Shoulder dystocia is when a baby’s shoulders become lodged inside the mother’s pelvis during birth. It can cause the baby to suffer fractures, damage to the brachial plexus nerves and potential lack of oxygen leading to, in severe cases, brain injury.
It can also cause injury to the mother including severe bleeding, perineal tears and uterine rupture.
The risk of shoulder dystocia may be increased in the following circumstances:
- Shoulder dystocia was a complication in a previous labour
- Size of the baby
- Maternal diabetes
- Maternal obesity
- Induction of labour
- Instrumental delivery
- Progression of labour
In cases where there are strong risk factors a caesarean section might be considered the best method of delivery.