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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

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Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

the guide

Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

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SHOULDER DYSTOCIA

Several obstacles potentially await mothers who are in labor of delivering a newborn infant. One of the less publicized, yet still dangerous medical conditions, is called shoulder dystocia.

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Data compiled by researchers reveal that up to 1.5% of all childbirths result in some form of arm and/or shoulder nerve damage. The birth delivery condition represents the emergence of an infant’s head through the mother’s birth canal, but doctors cannot deliver the entire body because one or both of the infant’s shoulders have become stuck inside of the birth canal. The relatively rare birth canal disorder can place both the mother and baby at risk for incurring serious injuries.

Causes of the Potentially Life Threatening Ailment

The most common cause of shoulder nerve damage is the larger than average size of an infant. Referred to by health care professionals as Cephalopelvic Disorder (CPD), the infant’s larger than average size causes the shoulder or shoulders to become stuck in the mother’s pelvic area. Nerve injuries also occur at times because an infant comes out of the womb feet first, which produces immense pressure on the infant’s neck and shoulder. Mothers who endure diabetes or gestational diabetes, as well as carry twins, are much more likely to deliver an infant that suffers from shoulder dystocia. Obese women and mothers who deliver long after the expected due date increase the likeliness of the birth canal disorder.

How to Prevent Stuck Infant Shoulder

An overwhelming number of baby deliveries go off without a hitch. However, birth defects caused by an infant’s shoulder lodging in the birth canal have several methods for you and your doctor to implement that prevent nerve damage. Mothers who press their thighs against the stomach area reduce the chances of shoulder dystocia during childbirth. The pressure placed on the stomach represents a subtle method for encouraging the movement of a baby’s body through the womb. Skilled doctors can also adjust the position of an infant’s shoulders during childbirth to move the child through the birth canal. An episiotomy, which represents an incision that further opens the mother’s vaginal cavity, also reduces the chances of birth delivery ailment.

How to Diagnose and Treat the Disorder

Doctors who quickly diagnose the potential for shoulder dystocia can take immediate measures to prevent an infant’s shoulder from becoming stuck in the birth canal. Diagnosis of the childbirth disorder requires only the recognition that an infant’s head has appeared, but his or her body stops moving in the womb. Physicians that detect the onset of the birth delivery disorder often perform an emergency Cesarean section (c-section) to help deliver a newborn. The c-section procedure is a surgical maneuver a doctor performs by making an incision in the stomach cavity and uterus. Moreover, doctors adept at diagnosing medical condition consider the risk factors that cause the childbirth disorder, such as the presence of CPD and/or a fetus that is much larger than average.

The failure to diagnose and promptly treat shoulder dystocia can lead to several complications. Lack of oxygen to an infant’s brain causes damage to brain tissue, and if deprived of oxygen long enough, an infant can die. Nerve damage in the arms, hands, and/or shoulders can provoke shaking, or worse, paralysis. Heavy bleeding in the birth canal, which occurs after the tearing of the vagina, uterus, or rectum, places mothers in serious medical distress.

Shoulder Dystocia
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