When delivering a baby, medical staff can perform various “obstetric maneuvers” to reduce discomfort for the mother and decrease the risk of injury for the baby. However, mistakes and improper maneuvering can instead cause permanent birth injuries.

Consult a lawyer right away if your baby was injured at birth due to the negligence of a healthcare professional. With the help of our Michigan birth injury lawyers, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the doctor, nurse, or other persons responsible for your baby’s injuries.

What is Shoulder Dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia occurs during labor when the baby’s forward-most shoulder becomes trapped behind the mother’s pelvic bone, making it difficult for the infant to progress out of the birth canal. In the United States, shoulder dystocia occurs in roughly 0.15-2% of vaginal deliveries.

Several factors contribute to shoulder dystocia, including the size of the baby, especially the width of the baby’s shoulders. The angle of the baby before they enter the birth canal and the size of the mother’s birth canal also affect whether it occurs.

If shoulder dystocia is inappropriately diagnosed and treated in time, a newborn may suffer severe brain damage or even die due to a lack of oxygen during delivery. The medical team must be prepared ahead of time to release the baby’s shoulder, deliver the baby, and provide emergency treatment if required.

What are Common Obstetric Maneuvers for Shoulder Dystocia?

The doctor usually has a narrow window of opportunity to intervene in shoulder dystocia. Their first step when diagnosing shoulder dystocia is to assess the baby’s forward shoulder’s positioning, such as the location and angle of the baby in the birth canal.

Determining the position of the baby is important when deciding which obstetrical maneuver will be most effective for delivering the baby while keeping the mother safe.

Several well-known obstetric techniques and procedures can treat shoulder dystocia.  The most common ones used by OB-GYNs are:

  • McRoberts maneuver: A mother’s legs are flexed against the abdomen to tilt the pelvis.
  • Suprapubic pressure: The doctor applies pressure to the mother’s lower abdomen over the pubic bone in an attempt to release the baby’s shoulder.
  • Rubin maneuver: A Rubin maneuver involves inserting a hand into the vaginal canal and applying pressure to the rear-most part of the infant’s most accessible shoulder toward the infant’s chest.
  • Delivery of the posterior arm: The doctor inserts a hand into the vagina and sweeps it across the infant’s chest to deliver the rear-most arm.
  • Woods corkscrew maneuver: The doctor places her hand behind the baby’s non-affected shoulder and then rotates it in a corkscrew motion until it’s free.

A Zavanelli maneuver is usually used when all other attempts to save the child have failed. It involves rotating the baby’s head into position and pushing the head into the delivery canal by applying sustained, firm pressure. An emergency Cesarean section should be conducted as soon as the infant’s head has been successfully turned.

Cerebral palsy and other birth complications can occur when a doctor delays ordering a Cesarean section during delivery when it becomes necessary.

What Other Injuries Can Result from Improper Obstetric Maneuvers?

Even using these methods, pressure on the infant’s head is usually necessary to assist delivery. In one research study, participants could not define what counted as “excessive force,” especially when in a stressful delivery environment. The study concluded that when a doctor uses too much force, it can injure the nerves between the brain, the arms, and the hands.

If the doctor does not perform an obstetric maneuver when it’s needed, shoulder dystocia can result in the following birth injuries:

  • Erb’s palsy: Nerves in the brachial plexus connect the brain to the arms and hands. Erb’s palsy occurs when these nerves are damaged during childbirth, resulting in arm or hand paralysis. There could also be broken bones in the upper limbs when there is an injury to the brachial plexus. This can occur when the baby is breech, requiring the doctor to pull the baby’s feet out first, causing the arms to go above the baby’s head and putting additional stress on the brachial plexus.
  • Klumpke’s Palsy: Klumpke’s palsy occurs when the nerves in the lower spine are damaged, causing paralysis of the newborn’s hands or arms.
  • Cerebral palsy: An untreated shoulder dystocia could cause a temporary lack of oxygen to the infant’s brain. Excessive trauma to the head, prolonged pressure, and compression of the umbilical cord are among the causes of cerebral palsy. During childbirth, lack of oxygen to the brain leads to cerebral palsy, a disorder that affects body movements.

Contact a Birth Injury Attorney at Our Law Firm Today

If your baby suffered any serious injuries resulting from improper use of or failure to use obstetric measures, you should reach out to the birth injury lawyers at Fieger Law. We work with parents and family members across the United States to help win compensation for children’s birth injuries. Birth injuries put financial strain on many families, and when your child’s injuries were the fault of negligence, your family deserves compensation for your many medical expenses and pain and suffering.

Get in touch with us today for a free consultation to start your medical malpractice claim.