Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Shoulder distocia* lawsuits for injuries from baby stuck in birth canal cause fetal distress
Injury can occur when a baby is stuck in the birth canal. The resulting fetal distress can cause cerebral palsy and erbs palsy. When doctors or nurses miss the signs of fetal distress, they may commit medical malpractice which results in lawsuits being filed.
The birth process, shoulder distocia, and fetal distress
The maternal pelvis has a series of bones forming a circle protecting the pelvic organs. The front-most bone is the symphysis pubis. It is there that a baby's anterior shoulder gets caught during a delivery which is complicated by shoulder distocia. The bone at the back of the maternal pelvis is the sacrum. Because of its peninsula-like shape, it generally serves as a slide over which a baby's posterior shoulder can descend freely during labor and delivery. The side walls of the maternal pelvis usually do not contribute to shoulder distocia.
Significant factors associated with Erb's palsy were shoulder distocia; high birth weight; prolonged second stage, instrumental delivery, fetal distress; use of oxytocin; and epidural anesthesia.
In normal vaginal deliveries the head of the baby emerges first. During labor, the soft, mobile bones of the fetal head can alter their shape and somewhat overlap. This facilitates the fetal head fitting into and through the maternal pelvis. The baby's shoulders, likewise being flexible, usually follow the delivery of the baby's head quickly and easily.
But for this to happen, the axis of the fetal shoulders must descend into the maternal pelvis at an angle oblique to the pelvis's anterior-posterior dimension. This position affords the shoulders the most room for their passage. If instead the shoulders line up in a straight front-to-back orientation as they are about to emerge from the mother's pelvis, there will often be insufficient room for them to squeeze through. The back of the mother's pubic bone then forms a shelf on which the baby's anterior shoulder can get caught. When this happens -- shoulder distocia results.
Shoulder distocia can also occur if the posterior shoulder of a baby gets caught on its mother's sacrum. This is a far less common cause of shoulder distocia.
It is the relative sizes of the fetal head, shoulders, and chest compared to the shape and size of the maternal pelvis that determines how smoothly a delivery will go. Usually it is the fetal head that has the largest dimensions. If the fetal head can pass through the maternal pelvis without difficulty, the rest of the baby usually follows easily.
When the dimensions of the fetal shoulders or chest rival those of its head, the chances of a shoulder distocia are greatly increased. Shoulder distocia occurs more frequently in large babies and babies delivered by diabetic mothers.
In large babies, much of the excess growth that occurs is in the chest and abdominal areas. Babies of diabetic mothers also have greater arm circumference, larger triceps folds, and more body fat. Since larger babies are more likely to get stuck, much of the work in the field of shoulder distocia has been targeted at attempting to predict which babies will be larger than normal, especially when their mothers are diabetic.
How does a baby go into fetal distress?
Fetal distress is the presence of signs in a pregnant woman, before or during childbirth, the signs revealing that the fetus is not well or is becoming excessively fatigued. Fetal distress results in a flurry of remedial activity.
The mother and her husband or partner can only watch and passively consent to whatever the health professionals are recommending. Attempts to reassure the parents that everything will be fine are difficult to accept in the presence of the sudden sense of urgency and medical personally who suddenly appear in the delivery room. Fortunately for parents in this situation, the anxiety is very short-lived, as a healthy baby is generally delivered and united with its parents.
Signs and symptoms of fetal distress include:
- Decreased movement felt by the mother
- Dark green fecal matter in the amniotic fluid
- Signs of fetus pulse
- Increased or decreased fetal heart rate especially during and after a contraction
- Decreased variability in the fetal heart rate
- Biochemical signs, assessed by collecting a small sample of baby's blood from a scalp prick through the open cervix in labor
- Fetal acidic body fluids
- Elevated fetal blood lactate levels indicating the baby has a lactic acids
Medical Malpractice Attorneys
There are many causes of fetal distress such as multiple births, breathing problems, abnormal positioning, shoulder distocia, and prolapsed umbilical cord. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now urges doctors to use the more descriptive --non-reassuring fetal heart rate tracing – to replace the generic phrase of fetal distress.
*Distocia is a purposely misspelled to accommodate people who search for that spelling. The correct spelling is dystocia.
If you are exploring the possibility of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit over shoulder dystocia or Erb's palsy, the attorneys at Anapol Schwartz can help. Click here to contact us for a free, no-obligation evaluation of your case, or call 1-866-735-2792.
Medmal Distocia (Dystocia) Lawsuits
- Cerebral Palsy
- Gestational Diabetes and Stuck Shoulder Injuries
- Hiring a Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Lawyer