Reviewed by James Brann, MDShoulder dystocia occurs sometimes during a vaginal delivery. When it happens, your child’s shoulder becomes stuck behind your pelvic bone as the baby moves through the birth canal and into the vagina. This then leads to the baby becoming stuck in the birth canal.
Shoulder dystocia is considered an emergency, and needs immediate treatment.
Sometimes shoulder dystocia occurs for an unknown reason. Due to this, there’s no way to always prevent it from happening.
SymptomsThere are no symptoms for the mother. As delivery progresses, your doctor or midwife will notice your baby’s shoulders aren’t coming out of your vagina as they should be after your baby’s head comes out.
TreatmentImmediately after your doctor or midwife notices shoulder dystocia, they’ll tell you to stop pushing. Then, they’ll try different methods to help you deliver. This may include:
- Reaching into your vagina to help make the baby unstuck
- Pressing on your belly, pushing down on baby’s shoulders
- Moving your thighs onto your belly to make more room for baby
ProblemsShoulder dystocia can lead to problems for both baby and mom. The most common for a baby include:
- Nerve damage - If your baby’s neck stretches too much, the nerves surrounding the shoulder may get damaged. This can make your baby’s arm weak and lead to trouble moving the arm. Doctors may refer to this injury as Erb’s palsy.
- Broken collarbone or arm
Pregnancy Health Topics
- Reducing Risk of Birth Defects
- Repeated Miscarriage
- Rh Factor
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Routine Testing
- Screening for Down Syndrome
- Screening for Cystic Fibrosis
- Seizure Disorders
- Shoulder Dystocia
- Skin Conditions
- Symptoms of Pregnancy
- Using Illegal Drugs and Alcohol
- Vaccines during or Before Pregnancy