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What Is Shoulder Dystocia? – Birth Injury


“What is shoulder dystocia?” “How is it related to brachial plexus injury?” are common questions we receive all the time concerning birth injuries.

Learn More:

What is Shoulder

What is Birth Injury? – Birth Injury Overview

Vacuum Extraction Birth Injury – Suction Device Injuries


Video Transcript


0:00 Intro
0:21 What is Shoulder Dystocia?
1:37 Brachial Plexus
2:25 Brachial Plexus Injury

This is Dr. Francois Blaudeau. I’m an OB/GYN doctor and lawyer, and part of the team of Physician Attorneys atLawMD. I’m here today to talk to you all about brachial plexus and shoulder dystocia birth injuries.

0:21 What is Shoulder Dystocia – Birth Injury?

Shoulder dystocia is a problem that happens when the doctor is delivering the baby, the head of the baby comes out, but the shoulder gets trapped up under the pubic bone of the mother. When the shoulder gets trapped under that pubic bone, sometimes if you pull too hard on the baby trying to get the baby delivered, you put too much stress on the neck of the baby trying to pull and get that shoulder past the bone, you can stretch, tear or injure the brachial plexus, which is a bunch of nerves that leave the neck and go into the arm.

That can cause the baby to have significant issues with the use of their arm. Shoulder dystocia can at times happen without a doctor anticipating it. Shoulder dystocia could be something the doctor should have thought about, especially in cases where the mother might be diabetic and there’s a concern that the baby is really large or the labor went for a long period of time. At times, it can be anticipated, if the baby’s head comes down the birth canal and sucks back up, we call that the turtle sign, like the turtle bringing his head out and back into his body. 

1:37 Brachial Plexus Injury

Shoulder dystocia is an injury that occurs typically when the physician actually has his hands on the baby and is actually physically doing something to help deliver the baby.

There are certain maneuvers a physician can do that are accepted within the standard of care to help try to dislodge that stuck shoulder. Physicians do those maneuvers properly at times, but sometimes they don’t. A physician panics, the baby is not getting good oxygen and the baby’s stuck in the birth canal. The physician wants to deliver the baby quickly and sometimes they make a bad decision or make a bad move, which can cause an injury to occur. 

2:25 Brachial Plexus Injury

Brachial plexus injuries are evaluated over time. Sometimes the nerve will heal and the injury will not be bad. There are certainly cases where there is long-term loss of function of the arm in a baby.

At LawMD, we litigate brachial plexus and shoulder dystocia cases.  Our Physician Attorneys would be glad to assist you in evaluating your case if your child has suffered significant long-term nerve injury related to shoulder dystocia.

Please feel free to reach out to us. Thank you.



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