You may be wondering what sort of conditions might arise during your pregnancy. There’s one birth injury called shoulder dystocia that, though occurring in only 0.2% to 0.3% of pregnancies, could affect an expectant mother in Virginia. Dystocia means slow or difficult labor or delivery, and shoulder dystocia refers to a potentially injurious condition where the baby has one or both shoulders stuck in the mother’s pelvis.

The effects of shoulder dystocia

In most cases, the baby is born safe and sound. Other times, the baby or the mother suffers injury. Arm and shoulder fractures are not uncommon, nor is damage to the brachial plexus nerves, which can leave the baby with a weak or paralyzed arm. The mother may bleed heavily or tear her perineum. In extreme cases, the baby may die or suffer brain damage from oxygen deprivation.

Risk factors for shoulder dystocia

Shoulder dystocia can arise during any pregnancy, but it’s more common in mothers who are overweight or who gained an excessive amount of weight during pregnancy, mothers with diabetes and mothers with babies who are abnormally large, which is a condition known as macrosomia. Other risk factors include:

• Having a multiple birth, such as twins or triplets
• Taking an epidural for pain
• Having doctors use birth-assisting tools like forceps

When shoulder dystocia results from negligence

Some birth injuries arise on account of medical malpractice, or the failure of doctors or other medical experts to follow an objective standard of care. If you believe that you have good grounds for a malpractice claim, you may want a lawyer to help because the filing process can be time-consuming and complicated. There can be much opposition, too, as the other side may try to force you into a less-than-reasonable settlement out of court. You may let your lawyer handle all negotiations for fair compensation.