Shoulder Dystocia: A Rare Injury That Baby Might Face During Birth

Shoulder Dystocia is a birth condition that occurs when one or both shoulders of a baby are trapped in the pelvis of the mother during birth. Although babies are born safely in most shoulder Dystocia, sometimes it can cause issues for both mum and baby. Additionally, health care providers usually have trouble detecting or avoiding shoulder dystocia. 

If shoulder dystocia occurs, the doctor may attempt to shift the body and baby to a safer place to help get your baby out. If your doctor suggests a planned c-section, ask if you should wait a minimum of 39 weeks before birth to allow time for the growth of your baby.

Shoulder Dystocia
Source: Wikipedia

Causes Of Shoulder Dystocia

Shoulder dystocia is a condition that occurs during childbirth when the shoulders of an infant are stuck in the pelvic of the mother, mostly because the baby is too large for the birth tube.

Other causes can be when the baby is born face first, pulled out by the face causing undue stress on the neck. Also, the risk of this rare condition occurs when the baby is born feet first, often causing undue stress on the shoulder and neck region.

Sign And Symptom Of Shoulder Dystocia

A characteristic of a minority of deliveries with shoulder dystocia is the tortoise sign, which includes the appearance and retraction of the baby’s head, and a red, puffy face. This happens when the maternal pelvis obstructs the baby’s neck.

Shoulder Dystocia
Risk Factor Of Shoulder Dystocia Source: Cancer Therapy Advisor

During the time of delivery, doctors may cause injuries such as brachial plexus palsy, fractured bones, and facial injuries while attempting to take the baby out entirely. If an injury occurs after this problem, the symptoms can include:

  • Nerve damage and pain in the injured area
  • A claw-like hand appearance
  • Light paralysis of the affected limb

On the other hand, mothers are also at risk of medical problems when Shoulder Dystocia occurs. The condition such as hemorrhaging, uterine rupture, and lacerations are the probable ones.


Doctors diagnose Shoulder Dystocia when they can see the head of the baby but not possible to deliver the baby’s body, even after some minor maneuvers. If your doctor realizes that the trunk of your baby will not come out easily, they will immediately take measures. Realizing this condition often leads to the diagnosis of Dystocia Shoulder.

Events happen quickly in the delivery room while the baby is coming out. If your doctor suspects there is shoulder dystocia, they’ll work quickly to resolve the problem and deliver your baby.

How Is Shoulder Dystocia Treated?

Raising the mothers’ legs upwards and outwards, raising the belly above the pubic bone, turning the babies’ shoulders manually, placing the women on all fours can be the best measure to prevent this rare condition. Additionally, treatment may depend on how injuries occur after Shoulder Dystocia.

Further, the baby is often delivered successfully in many cases without injuring the brachial plexus nerves or destroying some other part of the body. Therefore, care for the reported injuries must coincide with treatment options. For example, injuries to the brachial plexus can include physical therapy, massage and, in serious cases, surgery.

Doctors usually try surgical interventions to help safely get the baby out and avoid accidents. Typical forms of medical maneuvers include internal rotating, maneuvering the McRoberts, maneuvering the Zavanelli, and excess pressure.


Shoulder Dystocia can increase risks for both you and your infant. Most mothers and babies with this condition will not suffer any serious or long-term complications. Although this condition is very rare, it’s possible that complications can occur. Here are some of the list of complication that can occur due to this condition:

  • Excessive bleeding in the mother
  • Injuries to a baby’s shoulders, arms, or hands
  • loss of oxygen to the baby’s brain, which can cause brain damage
  • Tearing of a mother’s tissues, such as the cervix, rectum, uterus, or vagina

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Asbin Ghimire

Asbin Ghimire an IT professional who is an avid writer. He currently works as an author of He has experience over three years working as a content writer and content marketer. His contents have a wide range of audiences, accumulating thousands of viewers. He believes writing is a powerful technique to express yourself and probably only the reason why he is into writing.

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