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What is shoulder dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia is a medical condition that occurs during the labor and delivery process. An Albuquerque mother and child may experience this sometimes serious and often scary complication when the baby's shoulders cannot pass through the birthing canal. As a result, a baby can become lodged inside of their mother and both mother and child can suffer significant complications as a result.

For a baby, the occurrence of shoulder dystocia during labor and delivery can result in a lack of oxygen prior to birth, a break to the bones of the shoulder and collarbone, and nerve damage to the baby's upper body. For the mother, shoulder dystocia can lead to tearing of the body, a rupture of the uterus and significant bleeding.

While many of the babies and mothers who suffer shoulder dystocia during labor and delivery recover from their injuries, others are not so fortunate. Death, permanent disability and other serious outcomes can occur as a result of shoulder dystocia.

There are steps that doctors can take to recognize possible situations where shoulder dystocia may affect a mother and baby during the labor and delivery process. For example, if a mother is significantly overweight or if she suffers from gestational diabetes then she and her baby may have an increased risk for experiencing shoulder dystocia. Babies who are born after their due dates and babies who are very large relative to the sizes of their mother may also suffer shoulder dystocia when they begin the descent through their mother's birthing canal.

When doctors properly monitor their patients for these and other signs of possible shoulder dystocia, plans can be made to protect both the mothers going through labor and the babies waiting to be born. However, doctors who ignore the risk factors for shoulder dystocia in their patients can cause those under their care to suffer and give their patients possible claims for medical malpractice based on preventable birth injuries from shoulder dystocia.

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