What is Shoulder Dystocia?
Shoulder Dystocia is a well known and documented emergency that can occur during the delivery of a baby. Shoulder Dystocia occurs after delivery of the infant’s head, when the baby’s shoulder gets stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone. If this happens, the remainder of the baby does not follow the head easily out of the vagina and the obstetrician must perform certain maneuvers to deliver the shoulders and body of the infant. Most often Shoulder Dystocia is easily resolved by the skilled and calm obstetrician, without leaving the infant or mother with any resultant injuries. However, there are occasions where injuries are sustained. The most common injury related to Shoulder Dystocia is a Brachial Plexus Injury, such as Erb’s Palsy. Erb’s Palsy caused by Shoulder Dystocia occurs when there is an injury to the Brachial Plexus ( a bundle of nerves running from the spine, through the neck, the armpit region and into the arm) during the delivery. The nerves in the shoulder get stretched, compressed, or torn when the doctor pulls too hard on the baby. As a result of this excessive force, nerve damage may occur, leaving the child with diminished or no muscle control or feeling in the affected arm and hand.
Shoulder dystocia can lead to ERB’s Palsy.