Shoulder dystocia is an unexpected condition which can happen in childbirth. With the condition, the baby’s head delivers okay, but one shoulder remains stuck behind the pelvic bone of the mother. Whilst every birth carries the risk of this complicated delivery, it is a rare condition affecting fewer than one in two hundred births.
The basics: In normal deliveries, the body follows the head following a short delay. However, with SD this period of delay goes on for too long. As a result, the baby can be put at risk of not being able to breath; due to pressures on their body and the constriction of the umbilical cord.
Unpredictability: An added complication to the condition is the difficulty with which it can be determined. Whilst some factors can be considered which could be responsible, it is not an exact science. For example, diabetic mothers or larger babies could likely suffer, though the percentages are extremely low.
Above all other considerations, due attention will be given to moms who have suffered from shoulder dystocia affected births in the past. Having to induce labor is also thought by many to possibly contribute, but again instances of this are rare. No matter the perceived risks or otherwise however, all labors will be carefully monitored.
Whilst these considerations will be noted by the medical team, there still is no way of predicting what will happen through any birth. As such, prevention of the issue is not possible. In some cases where it has happened in previous births, a c-section may be advised, but are no guarantees with this either.
If an when the condition does present itself through labor, all available medical staff team members will be immediately called. Mom will be told to cease pushing, and will be repositioned lying on her back with her legs pushed down onto the abdomen. With pressure on the abdomen, baby will be worked into a better position.
In some cases, a cut may be made to the vaginal opening, to enlarge the area for delivery. This is the last consideration however, and all trained professionals are aware of all the specific maneuvers, whilst they are practiced in a regular basis.
If shoulder dystocia should happen throughout a birth, it will naturally be extremely frightening for the mother and the birthing partner. The medical team however will know exactly what to do, and have an emergency procedure in place ready to act immediately.
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