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Understanding shoulder dystocia

As you go through your Delaware pregnancy, the foremost things in your mind likely are the health and welfare of your developing baby. Naturally you want him or her to be perfect when (s)he is born, and consequently, you do everything in your power to keep him or her safe and healthy until then.

Unfortunately, however, you have virtually no control over what, if any, birth injuries your baby receives during your labor and delivery. Shoulder dystocia represents one of these possible birth injuries.

Shoulder dystocia risk factors

Shoulder dystocia occurs when one of your baby’s shoulders becomes stuck behind the bones in your pelvis while descending down your birth canal. Thankfully, only about 1 percent of babies who weigh six pounds or less at birth suffer this birth injury. The risk, however, increases to 9 percent if your baby weighs nine pounds or more.

Other shoulder dystocia risk factors include the following:

  • You develop gestational diabetes during your pregnancy
  • You deliver your baby after his or her expected due date
  • Your doctor must use vacuum extraction or forceps to aid his or her delivery
  • You have an older child who suffered from shoulder dystocia

Possible consequential injuries

Your baby is not the only one at risk for suffering additional injuries in a shoulder dystocia situation. So are you. Such injuries as the following often occur:

  • Your uterus ruptures
  • You hemorrhage
  • Your perineum significantly tears
  • Your pelvic area sustains injury
  • Both you and your baby sustain nerve damage
  • His or her collarbone breaks, as well as one or both of his or her arms

Remember, the best thing you can do to prevent a shoulder dystocia situation from arising is to gain the minimum amount of weight during your pregnancy that your doctor recommends.

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Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP
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1000 North King Street
Wilmington, DE 19801

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