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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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Thousands of years of medical advancements have made giving birth into a relatively routine procedure. However, that is not to say all labors are risk-free. Mothers can spend nine months during pregnancy without experiencing any problems. But, as labor sets in, suddenly a host of potential medical obstacles can create dire issues.

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One such labor obstacle is called shoulder dystocia.

Shoulder Dystocia Defined

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The simple explanation for shoulder dystocia is it involves one or both of an infant’s shoulders getting lodged during delivery. The infant’s head can be seen, but the doctor cannot pull the rest of body out because the shoulders that are lodged in the birthing canal. Several reasons can cause this issue, with a larger than average infant one of the most common reasons. Other causes of this particular ailment include an infant leaving the womb feet first, which places too much pressure on the baby’s neck and shoulders.

Symptoms that Reveal Dystocia

The most obvious symptom of dystocia is when the infant’s head emerges, but the doctor cannot effortlessly pull the entire body out. With the shoulders firmly lodged, the doctor has to consider other means of extracting the baby, as time is short of delivering an infant. Physicians avoid applying to much force during delivery to prevent injuring the baby’s brachial plexus. Damaging the brachial plexus can lead to the development of cerebral palsy. A forced infant delivery can also break bones and cause serious facial injuries.

Common injuries of the afflicted victims include minor paralysis of the injured limb and the infant holding one or both hands in the shape of a claw. The child can also experience nerve damage in the shoulder. Mothers face possible injuries that range in severity from mild lacerations to a uterine rupture. Hemorrhaging of the birth canal is possible as well.

Who is Most at Risk?

The likelihood for a mother to experience this issue is higher than average because of the presence of one or more risk factors. Mothers who suffer from diabetes or gestational diabetes have a much higher rate of developing it. Women whose family history involves the delivery of larger and heavier than average infants are more at risk of experiencing the blocked delivery of an infant. Doctors that induce labor must be careful that the baby comes out head first to prevent oxygen depletion caused by the lack of air inside of the womb. Obese mothers and women that deliver infants after the expected due date run a higher risk as well. Doctors take all of the risk factors into account long before a mother begins going through labor. Mothers who expect twins should be especially concerned about shoulder dystocia. Doctors that have gained considerable experience delivering twins should be consulted with long before the expected due date.

This medical issue is not one of the conditions that require the use of advanced diagnostic equipment. Your doctor should immediately recognize the health ailment as soon as the baby stops moving in the birth canal. This symptom and a quick response typically prevent the shoulder malady from turning much worse. Skilled doctors manipulate the baby’s body subtly for a healthy delivery. If you experience dystocia of the shoulder, your doctor might use ultrasound imagery to confirm his or her diagnosis.