Learn More about Shoulder Dystocia

Updated on February 22, 2023

One of the things that you should know about shoulder dystocia is that it is quite a rare condition. The statistics vary quite a bit, due to the fact that doctors sometimes under-diagnose or over-diagnose the condition. However, we do have some reliable data.

One clear fact is that shoulder dystocia happens more frequently in babies with a birth weight of greater than 8 pounds and 13 ounces. Shoulder dystocia occurs in between five and nine percent of babies who have a birth weight of 8 pounds and 13 ounces or greater. This rate decreases to between six-tenths of a percent to 1.4% of babies with a birth weight of 5 pounds and 8 ounces all the way up to 8 pounds and 13 ounces. 

What Are the Symptoms of Shoulder Dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia is a condition that happens when one or both of your child’s shoulders becomes stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bones when your child is being delivered. As previously stated, there are risk factors when it comes to this condition. Babies that weigh more are more likely to experience shoulder dystocia. Unfortunately, there aren’t any symptoms that indicate that this condition could happen to your child. In fact, your obstetrician may only find out that your child has suffered a shoulder dystocia birth injury after delivering its head. 

Is Shoulder Dystocia a Birth Defect?

Unfortunately, there are a number of birth defects that can happen to a child. However, you should be aware that shoulder dystocia is not a birth defect. Your child does not have any issues with its shoulder or shoulders before it is delivered if it suffers a shoulder dystocia birth injury. This injury happens as a result of a number of factors. It can often happen if your obstetrician performs the delivery of your child incorrectly. As a result, you can consult a lawyer if your child has a shoulder dystocia birth injury. 

What Are the Causes of Shoulder Dystocia?

There are a total of four main causes of shoulder dystocia. The first main cause of this condition is that your child is born with a weight that is greater than 8 pounds and 13 ounces. Another main cause of shoulder dystocia is that your child is not in the right position before the delivery process begins. One more cause of shoulder dystocia is if the pelvic opening of the mother is too small to accommodate the standard delivery process. The fourth main cause of shoulder dystocia is if the mother is in a position that decreases the amount of room in her pelvis to facilitate the delivery. 

How Is Shoulder Dystocia Treated?

The main treatment method for shoulder dystocia is the HELPERR treatment. The H in this acronym stands for help and the obstetrician will ask for help. All the required equipment and other healthcare professionals will come to the room to assist them. The obstetrician will then determine if they need to make an incision to increase the size of the mother’s vaginal opening larger. This incision is called an episiotomy.  

After that, the obstetrician may try the McRoberts maneuver. This consists of the mother pressing their thighs up against their abdomen. The next step is the P in this acronym, which stands for pressure. The obstetrician will put some pressure on the mother’s lower belly to help rotate the baby’s shoulder and deliver the child successfully. The obstetrician may attempt to turn the child by reaching up into the mother’s vagina as part of the letter E in the acronym or enter maneuvers. 

The obstetrician may also lift one of the child’s arms out of the birth canal using Jacquemier’s maneuver. That is the step of removing the child’s posterior arm, which is what the first R in the acronym means. The second R stands for rolling the patient. The mother will move over onto her knees and hands so that she is in a different position. This can help the obstetrician deliver the child successfully. 

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.