What is Shoulder Dystocia?

Have you heard of shoulder dystocia? If not, this blog post will walk you through what it is and how your medical professionals will go about solving it.

What is shoulder dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia is when the baby’s head has been born, but their shoulder gets stuck behind the mothers pubic bone which is at the front of the pelvis or the sacrum which is at the back of the pelvis. There is usually a short pause once the head has been born but shoulder dystocia is when the delay is longer than normal. This is an emergency which will need to be dealt with quickly.

The reason this is an emergency situation is because the delay causes a blockage of oxygen to the baby due to them being stuck and/or their umbilical cord being compressed. This can lead to brain damage or even death. Please don't stop reading there as the rest of this blog post is designed to calm your nerves about shoulder dystocia happening during your own labour.

image_of_the_female_pelvis

Should you be worried about shoulder dystocia?

Yes shoulder dystocia is dangerous but it is rare. It only happens in 1 in 150 births in the UK which is 0.7%. When it does happen, midwives are highly trained in fixing the issue quickly so your baby can be born.

Shoulder dystocia can also happen during a c-section however this is very rare.

Can you do anything to reduce the chances of shoulder dystocia?

In most cases, shoulder dystocia can’t be predicted. Having diabetes makes it more likely, which is why c-section or induction of labour are recommended to lessen the risk in these cases; although the induction of labour doesn’t really lower the risk - it just means the mother can be managed and monitored closely in hospital.

woman_labour_induced

How is shoulder dystocia fixed?

If shoulder dystocia does occur, the McRoberts manoeuvre should be carried out first - and your midwife and healthcare provider will be fully highly trained in how to do this. If this fails, then the mother could be moved onto all fours to continue with labour. An episiotomy could be carried out alongside the McRoberts manoeuvre, but this won’t fix the issue, it’ll just make more room for a hand to go in and rotate the baby. An episiotomy is a controlled cut to the perrenium to allow more space for baby to be born.

In very rare cases, your baby will be born via c-section. Once the spinal block has taken effect the baby will be pushed back into the uterus to enable an abdominal birth.

What happens after birth?

Most babies recover very well but they will need to be monitored in hospital after birth. They may also have difficulty with breastfeeding, if this happens you should seek specialist help from a lactation consultant.

 

Although shoulder dystocia is an emergency and it can be very dangerous, the chances of it happening are low and if it does, your midwife will be highly trained in fixing it quickly. Shoulder dystocia is one of the major events during birth that healthcare professionals take very seriously.

If you're ever concerned and would like more information, please don't hesitate to contact our midwife-led helpline via the support me page of the butterbean platform. And remember, you can always find further support and guidance on our YouTube channel and blog page.

 

The Benefits of Hypnobirthing: A Comprehensive Guide

What is Shoulder Dystocia?

The Benefits of Hypnobirthing: A Comprehensive Guide

Have you heard of shoulder dystocia? If not, this blog post will walk you through what it is and how your medical professionals will go about solving it.

What is shoulder dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia is when the baby’s head has been born, but their shoulder gets stuck behind the mothers pubic bone which is at the front of the pelvis or the sacrum which is at the back of the pelvis. There is usually a short pause once the head has been born but shoulder dystocia is when the delay is longer than normal. This is an emergency which will need to be dealt with quickly.

The reason this is an emergency situation is because the delay causes a blockage of oxygen to the baby due to them being stuck and/or their umbilical cord being compressed. This can lead to brain damage or even death. Please don't stop reading there as the rest of this blog post is designed to calm your nerves about shoulder dystocia happening during your own labour.

image_of_the_female_pelvis

Should you be worried about shoulder dystocia?

Yes shoulder dystocia is dangerous but it is rare. It only happens in 1 in 150 births in the UK which is 0.7%. When it does happen, midwives are highly trained in fixing the issue quickly so your baby can be born.

Shoulder dystocia can also happen during a c-section however this is very rare.

Can you do anything to reduce the chances of shoulder dystocia?

In most cases, shoulder dystocia can’t be predicted. Having diabetes makes it more likely, which is why c-section or induction of labour are recommended to lessen the risk in these cases; although the induction of labour doesn’t really lower the risk - it just means the mother can be managed and monitored closely in hospital.

How is shoulder dystocia fixed?

If shoulder dystocia does occur, the McRoberts manoeuvre should be carried out first - and your midwife and healthcare provider will be fully highly trained in how to do this. If this fails, then the mother could be moved onto all fours to continue with labour. An episiotomy could be carried out alongside the McRoberts manoeuvre, but this won’t fix the issue, it’ll just make more room for a hand to go in and rotate the baby. An episiotomy is a controlled cut to the perrenium to allow more space for baby to be born.

In very rare cases, your baby will be born via c-section. Once the spinal block has taken effect the baby will be pushed back into the uterus to enable an abdominal birth.

woman_labour_induced

What happens after birth?

Most babies recover very well but they will need to be monitored in hospital after birth. They may also have difficulty with breastfeeding, if this happens you should seek specialist help from a lactation consultant.

 

Although shoulder dystocia is an emergency and it can be very dangerous, the chances of it happening are low and if it does, your midwife will be highly trained in fixing it quickly. Shoulder dystocia is one of the major events during birth that healthcare professionals take very seriously.

If you're ever concerned and would like more information, please don't hesitate to contact our midwife-led helpline via the support me page of the butterbean platform. And remember, you can always find further support and guidance on our YouTube channel and blog page.