Pregnancy and childbirth present significant health challenges to both Illinois mothers and their infants. While many things have the potential to go wrong, most children are born safely and in good health. Unfortunately, there are occasions where either the mother or child is injured for a variety of reasons; sometimes, these birth injuries cannot be helped even with the best medical care. However, other times, injuries are caused or worsened because a mother’s obstetric team fails to appropriately respond to medical emergencies. One such emergency is shoulder dystocia, a condition in which one or both of an infant’s shoulders become stuck during labor. To learn more about shoulder dystocia and its consequences, read on.
What is Shoulder Dystocia and How Does it Happen?
Usually, an infant’s head is the most difficult part of the body to push out of the vaginal canal during labor. Once the head emerges, the shoulders and the rest of the body generally follow right away. Sometimes, however, one or both shoulders can become stuck in the mother’s pelvis.
While overall rates of shoulder dystocia are low, certain risk factors include:
- Babies who weigh more than eight pounds and 13 ounces
- Gestational or preexisting diabetes
- Pregnancy with twins or triplets
- Maternal obesity before pregnancy or gaining too much weight during pregnancy
- Use of pitocin during delivery
- Use of an epidural
- Prolonged labor
- Use of assisted delivery tools like forceps and vacuum extraction
What Injuries Can Shoulder Dystocia Cause?
While most mothers and infants recover from shoulder dystocia with little or no injuries, serious problems can occur, especially when the delivery team does not respond immediately with appropriate treatment measures. Injuries to the infant from shoulder dystocia include, but are not limited to:
- Fractured arm and collarbone
- Brachial plexus nerve damage, including weakness or paralysis in the shoulder, arm, or hand
- Brain damage
Injuries to the mother include, but are not limited to:
- Postpartum hemorrhaging and anemia
- Perineum tearing
- Uterine rupture or tearing
Competent doctors must be aware of any risk factors for shoulder dystocia and prepare mothers and the medical staff to respond appropriately if it occurs.
Contact a Chicago Birth Injuries Lawyer
Watching your infant experience a birth injury during delivery can be a traumatic experience, to say nothing of the medical expenses and long-term treatment your child may need because a doctor failed to appropriately respond to should dystocia. If you or your child have suffered from the consequences of shoulder dystocia, speak with a Cook County birth injuries attorney at Birth Injury Law Alliance, Ltd.. You may be able to pursue damages to hold the medical party responsible for your and your infant’s pain and suffering. Call us today at 312-462-4200 to schedule a free consultation.