Shoulder dystocia is when the baby’s head is delivered vaginally but the shoulders get stuck inside the mother’s body. This emergency situation happens during the end of the second stage of labor. It is one of the most frightening emergencies in the delivery room. Health care professionals usually cannot predict or prevent this condition even though there are certain factors that puts you at risk. Shoulder dystocia is discovered only after labor has begun.
What puts a pregnant woman at risk of shoulder dystocia ?
You may be at risk of this condition if you fall into the following category :
- your baby is very large – macrosomia
- have diabetes
- being overweight
- pregnant with multiples
- deliver after your due date
- have induced labor
- have had a very large baby or shoulder dystocia in the past
- you get an epidural to help with pain during labor
- had an assisted vaginal delivery
You may also experience shoulder dystocia if you don’t have any risks.
What complications are associated with shoulder dystocia ?
The baby and mother usually do well after going through this ordeal. However, certain complications are possible with both the mother and baby.
Complications for the mother include :
- heavy postpartum bleeding
- tearing of the vaginal, uterus, cervix or rectum
Risk the baby may face include the following :
- injury to the nerves of the shoulder, hand and arms which may cause shaking or paralysis. The problem go away within 6 to 12 months in most cases
- lack of oxygen to the brain which in severe or rare cases may cause brain damage or death
What will happen if my baby has shoulder dystocia ?
If it is suspected that your baby has this condition, the health care team will act fast. They will tell you to stop pushing ad immediately call for help from health professionals such as obstetricians, an anaesthetics , midwives and a pediatrician . The following measure may be taken to help the baby come out safely
- the mothers thighs will be pressed against her belly
- pressure will be applied to the mother’s lower belly
- the baby’s shoulders will be turned while still inside the mother
- an episiotomy which is cutting wide of the woman vagina may be performed
Most babies are usually delivered with these simple measures, In rare cases ,drastic measure such as cesarean delivery may be necessary. However this is done after all options to get the baby out has failed.
Shoulder dystocia. Baby center. http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a1050967/shoulder-dystocia. Accessed November 1, 2015
Shoulder dystocia. Royal college of obstetricians and Gynaecogists.https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/gtg42_25112013.pdf . Accessed November 1, 2015