Shoulder Dystocia

The birth of a child is an awesome and inspiring event for parents and family members. Most often skilled physicians working with medical providers and the mother make childbirth smooth and memorable for all of the right reasons. However, many births have complications. Some of these complications lead to serious and permanent injuries to both mother and the newborn child. Many of these injuries are preventable.

One of the more common birth injuries is known Erb’s Palsy. That condition, which is the stretching or compression, tearing or pulling of the nerves in the shoulder is the result of brachial plexus and shoulder dystocia injuries during delivery.

The stretching, compression or tearing of the infant’s shoulder nerves is called shoulder dystocia, which occurs usually when the baby’s shoulder has been stuck behind the mother’s pubis synthesis bone.

Shoulder dystocia in many cases can be anticipated and therefore prevented if the warning signs are acted upon. In addition, injury to the infant can still be avoided if the necessary and safe procedures are taken once the shoulder dystocia takes place.

Again, when the infant is being delivered and his or her shoulder becomes stuck on the mother’s pubic bone and too much pressure or pulling takes place, the child can suffer severe injuries known as Erb’s palsy and brachial plexus.

In order to prevent injury to the infant’s nerves when shoulder dystocia is present, a safe intervention can be performed. One of those is called the McRobert’s maneuver. During this procedure, the mother’s legs are held in the flexed position. Then the mom is given lower abdomen pressure which is called suprapubic pressure. If the McRobert’s maneuver is done right, there are a number of things that a physician standing by can do to safely rotate the baby and free up his or her shoulders. Almost all deliveries of a child can be done correctly without incident as long as the proper use of these proven methods are done when shoulder dystocia occurs.

Some birth injuries involve the negligence of medical providers. In many instances, the occurrence of birth injury negligence can be recognized as one of the following:

  • Delay in ordering or performing a C-section
  • Misusing labor-stimulation drugs such as Oxytocin (Pitocin)
  • Negligent use of a vacuum extractor or forceps
  • Choosing not to recognize fetal distress
  • Permitting the pregnancy to go beyond 41 weeks without proper testing
  • Poor oxygenation of the newborn after birth
  • Failing to promptly respond to umbilical cord compression
  • Failing to act immediately to a shoulder dystocia

Many instances of brachial plexus injuries or Erb’s palsy injury to an infant may be mild and thus, the child will recover within three to five months. The more severe cases improve slowly over as long as two years. After two years, if there is no further improvement, physical therapy and possibly surgery may be needed to remedy the condition. Most practitioners would say that the child who has suffered a brachial plexus nerve injury would benefit best by surgery between the ages of 5 months and 12 months.

In shoulder dystocia births, it is by definition a difficult time in delivery. The word “dystocia” means difficult labor or birth. Shoulder dystocia can occur if one or both of the shoulders are stuck in the birth canal preventing the infant from being delivered. It is imperative that the obstetrician, nurse midwife or other medical providers on hand act quickly. If the baby’s shoulder dystocia is not acted on and treated correctly, the results can be devastating, including permanent brain damage, Erb’s palsy or a permanent brachial plexus injury to the child.

The known risks of should dystocia are gestational diabetes, a large fetus, breech position, a small in stature mother, a large weight gain by the mother during pregnancy, overdue baby, obese mother, small pelvic area, previous pregnancies with large babies or a history of pregnancy with shoulder dystocia. The obstetrician, nurse midwife and other medical providers taking care of the mother should know these circumstances or medical histories.

There are other nerve injuries that can result from a shoulder dystocia at birth. Other than Erb’s palsy, there is Klumpke’s palsy, which causes paralysis of the fingers and hands. Horner’s syndrome can cause the eyelid to droop. Erb’s palsy causes the arm to stay in a close position to the body with the palm facing backwards. Also, the child would suffer from the inability to move the arm from below the elbow.

A complete brachial plexus injury is the most severe and could cause total paralysis or no use of the affected arm.

If you or someone you know or love has been involved in a birth injury in Illinois, please call us for an immediate free consultation. Robert Kreisman of Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Chicago and Illinois birth injury cases for more than 40 years.

With our years of experience in trying and settling birth injury cases, Kreisman Law Offices provides the best possible services to our clients and have achieved unsurpassed results. Our service is unmatched. Please call us 24 hours a day at 312.346.0045 or toll free 800.583.8002 for a free and immediate consultation, or complete a contact form online. There is no charge for a consultation that will include an evaluation of your case.

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