In hospitals in New Mexico and across the U.S., it’s not rare for injuries to arise during the delivery of a baby. One injury that arises in 0.2% to 0.3% of pregnancies is shoulder dystocia where one or both of a baby’s shoulders become stuck in the mother’s pelvis.

Injuries linked to shoulder dystocia

If doctors cannot position the mother and baby in such a way as to treat the condition, the baby may suffer damage to the brachial plexus, a network of nerves that controls sensation and movement in the shoulders, arms and hands. Arm fractures are not uncommon. In extreme cases, the baby may have his or her oxygen supply cut off and incur brain damage or die.

A wide range of risk factors

Though shoulder dystocia can technically occur during any pregnancy, doctors should be looking out for certain risk factors. They include:

• Unusually large babies
• Overweight mothers
• Diabetes in the mothers
• Births of twins or triplets

If the mother takes an epidural or has an assisted vaginal birth, which means using birth-assisting tools like forceps and vacuums, then the chances of shoulder dystocia will go up. Though doctors cannot predict shoulder dystocia, they may recommend a C-section if, for instance, the mother has diabetes and the baby weighs at least 4.5 kilograms.

Shoulder dystocia and malpractice claims

It’s conceivable that a medical malpractice claim can arise from a shoulder dystocia case. After all, doctors may neglect to take the risk factors into account or use the birth-assisting tools in too violent a manner. If you and your baby were injured as a result of medical negligence, you may want to talk to a lawyer about filing a malpractice claim. The lawyer may help you navigate the process safely and even handle negotiations for you.