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Is shoulder dystocia a fatal injury during childbirth?

Envisioning a baby's birth usually brings happy thoughts. Even though the mother will go through pain from contractions, she is probably still looking forward to the birth of her little one. Unfortunately, not all women have the wonderful birth experience they envision. Our Kentucky readers might be interested to learn how shoulder dystocia, a rare condition, might affect some women's birth experience.

What is shoulder dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia occurs when a baby's shoulders are too large to fit through the mother's pelvis during delivery. This can cause the baby to get stuck in the birth canal. When the baby is stuck in that position, pressure from the contractions and the force necessary to get the baby out can hurt both the baby and the mother.

What injuries might the mother suffer?

The mother might suffer from bruising of her bladder, cervix, vagina or rectum. She might experience tearing of those tissues. She might hemorrhage or suffer a uterine rupture. All of these conditions can lead to a longer recovery, and in some cases, the mother might have permanent injuries.

What injuries might the baby suffer?

The baby can die from shoulder dystocia if it is severe enough. The lack of oxygen might cause problems that can be temporary or permanent. The baby's arm or collarbone might break. The baby can suffer from nerve damage to the hand, shoulder, or arm.

Can a family seek compensation for damages caused by shoulder dystocia?

Some cases of shoulder dystocia aren't properly diagnosed by a medical professional. A medical malpractice lawsuit would be possible in those cases, as well as some other cases. Doctors are expected to provide care that meet certain standards. If the care a woman received is lower than that standard, a medical malpractice lawsuit might be necessary.

Source: FindLaw, "Birth Injury: Shoulder Dystocia" Nov. 18, 2014

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