What is shoulder dystocia? Over the past few weeks, we have had contact with parents regarding injuries that children have suffered due to them being essentially stuck during a vaginal delivery. For the parents of these children their first priority is to the wellbeing of their children, but also included is how a baby can get stuck during a vaginal delivery?


In this Maryland birth injury educational article, I will discuss some of the key areas of analysis surrounding a medical malpractice case predicated on shoulder dystocia. Please remember however, that birth injury cases are fact specific in many instances. With that said, this information should give you a good starting point as to what is shoulder dystocia and how it can lead to a brain injury.




The easiest way to understand what is shoulder dystocia is that it occurs when a baby is stuck behind the mother’s pelvis. This in turn leads to an emergency in the delivery room. Namely, because if the doctors cannot free the baby in enough time, serious injury or death can occur. Doctors are thought certain maneuvers to help free the child.


Injuries to a baby’s neck, arm, and/or hand (broken clavicle) can occur when doctors use too much force, or do not perform the maneuvers correctly. For some doctors, panic can set in because if the baby is not freed in enough time, death can occur.


Below are some of the potential risk factors associated with shoulder dystocia:


  • Increasing Fetal Weight: This can be seen as fetal macrosomia. Doctors should be on the lookout if the baby is greater than 4000g, or 8.8 lbs
  • Prolonged Second Stage Of Labor
  • Gestational Diabetes: Diabetes, and gestational diabetes pose an increased risk of shoulder dystocia because both conditions can increase the fetal weight.
  • Maternal Body Mass Index: Mothers who are obese present with an increased risk of shoulder dystocia. An increased fetal birth rate can be tied to a mother’s obesity in some cases.




Above, I briefly explained that when the baby is trapped behind the pelvis, an injury can occur to the baby’s neck, arm, and/or hand because of too much force. An injury to the brain can be due to compression of the umbilical cord. Since the umbilical cord is responsible for providing blood and oxygen to the baby, restriction of blood and oxygen can lead to a brain injury in the baby.


Cord compression can happen when the umbilical cord is stuck against the baby and the wall of the birth canal. Indications of cord compression are revealed on the electronic fetal heart monitor. The monitor will show a sudden drop in the baby’s heart rate. Because shoulder dystocia is a serious condition, doctors must correctly diagnose and treat the condition. Failure to do so can result in not only serious injury, but can result in death.





Was your baby stuck during delivery and now you have been told that your child has a brain injury? Do you feel that your labor was prolonged and this may have contributed to your child’s injury? If you have all of these things going on, and you are worried about your child’s future challenges, this is what I invite you to do.


Pick up the phone and give me a call. I can be reached at 301-850-4832. I answer birth injury questions like yours all the time and I would be happy to listen to your story.


Marcus B. Boston, Esq.

Boston Law Group, LLC

2 Wisconsin Circle, Suite 700

Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815



1-833-4 BABY HELP


Marcus Boston is a Maryland medical malpractice attorney who helps people navigate the Maryland childbirth injury and medical malpractice process to get money for their injuries caused by the carelessness of doctors and hospitals. BLG handles cases in Prince George’s County, Baltimore City, Montgomery County, Howard County, Anne Arundel County, and all other Maryland Counties. blgesq.com