Shoulder dystocia presents risks to both the mother and fetus. Problems for the fetus can include:
- Fractures to the collarbone and arm
- Damage to the brachial plexus nerves. These are the nerves that go from the spinal cord in the neck down the arm. Damage to these nerves can cause paralysis in the arm or shoulder.
- Asphyxia (lack of oxygen to the body) leading to brain injury or death
- Fetal death
Risks for the mother can include:
- Postpartum hemorrhage (heavy bleeding after birth)
- Severe tearing of the perineum (tear between the vagina and rectum)
- Uterine rupture (rupture of the uterus during the labor)
- Rectovaginal fistula (an abnormal connection between the rectum and vagina)
- Symphyseal separation (this condition is characterized by excessive movement of the pelvis) with or without femoral neuropathy (nerve dysfunction of the legs)
What is shoulder dystocia?
Shoulder dystocia refers to a condition where after the delivery of the fetus’s head, the fetus’s shoulder may get stuck inside the mother’s pelvis. In most cases, the child comes out normally; however, it may pose a severe threat to the mother and the child. Dystocia causes slow or difficult labor or birth. Shoulder dystocia affects 0.6-0.7% of women during deliveries.
Shoulder dystocia is a medical emergency because it may result in life-threatening fetus injury.
Who is at risk of getting shoulder dystocia?
Shoulder dystocia can affect any woman; however, women with certain risk factors are at an increased risk of getting shoulder dystocia. Risk factors include:
- Macrosomia: In this condition, the baby weighs more than eight pounds (4000 g). Macrosomia can increase the risk of shoulder dystocia. However, most of the fetuses with macrosomia are born safely. Sometimes, fetuses with a healthy weight have dystocia.
- Preexisting diabetes or gestational diabetes: Having diabetes before or during the pregnancy can result in macrosomia.
- Previous history of shoulder dystocia
- Being pregnant with multiple fetuses
- Being overweight or gaining too much weight during pregnancy
Some factors associated with labor and birth include:
- Getting oxytocin for inducing labor
- Getting an epidural to help with pain during the labor
- Having a very short or very long second stage of labor (the second stage of labor involves pushing and delivering the child)
- Assisted vaginal birth (a method of labor where the physician uses tools like forceps or vacuum to pull the baby through the canal)
How is shoulder dystocia treated?
The physician treats shoulder dystocia in one of the following ways:
- Episiotomy or a small cut over right or left of the vagina when the physician confronts shoulder dystocia.
- McRoberts maneuver: Press the woman’s thighs up tight against her belly
- Suprapubic pressure: Press on your lower belly just above the pubic bone.
- Reach up into the vagina to try to turn the baby.
- A C-section or other surgical procedures to release their shoulders. These are done only in severe cases of shoulder dystocia.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What Are the Risks of Shoulder Dystocia? Related Articles
Childbirth Delivery Methods and TypesThere are various childbirth delivery methods and types such as the Lamaze method, the Bradley method, water birth, and assisted births. Options for where a woman can deliver her baby include home birth, a birthing center, and a hospital. The method and type of labor and delivery options should be discussed with a woman's doctor.
Baby's 1st Yr SlideshowWhat developmental milestones can you expect to see during baby's first year? Find out when babies learn to smile, laugh, crawl, and talk.
Embryo vs. Fetus (Differences Between Stages Week by Week)The embryonic stage of pregnancy occurs from the moment of conception until the 11th week pregnancy, or first trimester. During this time the embryo develops major body structures, for example, the organs, heart, and main blood vessels. At this stage the baby's heart begins to beat. The fetal stage, or second trimester is next, and begins during the 11th week of pregnancy, and continues through to week #40. During this time the baby's organs and structures continue to develop, the fetus' gender can be identified, and fetal movement begins. The fetus is about 2 pounds by the 27th week. During the third trimester the baby is the size, and has the characteristics of a newborn. The greatest risk of miscarriage is during the very early stages of pregnancy before a woman even knows she is pregnant.
Fetal Movement (Quickening): Feeling Baby KickPregnancy can be one of the most joyous time in a couple's life. Learn what your baby's first movements may feel like week by week, how often you may feel them, what time of day the baby is most active, and what to do if you feel your baby is not moving as much as you feel it should be moving.
Stillbirth (Stillborn Baby)About 1% of pregnancies overall result in stillbirth, meaning that there are about 24,000 stillborn births each year in the U.S. A number of diseases and conditions as well as problems with the pregnancy or health of the mother can all be causes of stillbirth. The most common symptom of stillbirth is not feeling the baby moving or kicking.
What Are Shoulder Muscles Called?Shoulder muscles are required for movements of the upper limb. They also give the shoulders their characteristic shape. The shoulder has multiple muscles. Shoulder muscles include the intrinsic muscles or scapulohumeral group, including the deltoid, teres major and four rotator cuff muscles. The extrinsic shoulder muscles are the trapezius, latissimus dorsi, levator scapula and rhomboids (rhomboid major and rhomboid minor).
Why Does My Deltoid Muscle Hurt?Shoulder pain is a common problem that may be caused by an injured deltoid muscle. Learn the signs and causes of a deltoid injury, how to treat it, and when you should see a doctor.