Dystocia is a term used to describe the difficult delivery of a baby. In shoulder dystocia, the baby's head can be delivered, but the shoulders cannot pass through the birth canal. The shoulders are too wide to fit and become lodged behind the mother's pubic bone or the opening of the birth canal.
Typically, babies born with shoulder dystocia do not suffer long-term complications. If complications do occur, they are usually because the baby has become stuck too long in the birth canal.
For the baby:
Lack of oxygen
Broken arm or collarbone
Arm nerve damage
For the mother:
Tearing or bruising of the cervix, rectum, or vagina
Bruising to the bladder
The baby's shoulder is lodged behind the mother's pubic bone.
The following factors increase the chance of a baby suffering from shoulder dystocia:
Mothers who are diabetic
Mothers who are significantly overweight
Mothers, often small themselves, who may have a small pelvic bone
Signs and Symptoms
The signs of shoulder dystocia become apparent during
. The delivery does not progress because of the baby's shoulders being lodged in the birth canal behind the pubic bone. Signs also include very large babies who are likely to have problems being delivered vaginally.
Shoulder dystocia cannot actually be diagnosed until delivery. It can sometimes be predicted by determining the weight and size of the fetus and whether a vaginal delivery is safe for the mother and baby. An
may be done prior to labor in an attempt to determine if the baby is too large to fit safely through the birth canal during delivery.
Your doctor will decide on the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
Manipulated vaginal delivery—There are a variety of maneuvers that the doctor can do to help the mother deliver the baby.
(C-section)—If the maneuvers do not work, the baby will need to be delivered via a C-section. For babies who are at risk of shoulder dystocia because of their large size, a C-section may be scheduled.
Shoulder dystocia cannot be prevented. Babies who are at risk of shoulder dystocia because of large size can be evaluated prior to delivery with regular prenatal care and ultrasound testing. Women with diabetes or who are very overweight should have the size of their babies estimated. Babies at risk for shoulder dystocia should have a Cesarean delivery scheduled.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a