Shoulder Dystocia/Brachial Plexus Injuries

Shoulder Dystocia occurs when a baby descends through the birth canal and their shoulder gets caught up on the mother’s pelvic bone.   With proper medical training, this is not a medical emergency. Nonetheless, many physicians are not well prepared for this situation. They panic, and begin to pull up or down on the baby’s head in an effort to deliver the baby. “Excessive traction” (pulling up and down on the baby’s head) causes severe neurologic injury to the baby’s brachial plexus nerves in the shoulder and can result in permanent neurologic injury. Injuries to the brachial plexus are avoidable. When a doctor remains calm in the face of shoulder dystocia and implements various maneuvers to release the baby’s shoulder, without applying excessive traction, it is very unlikely that the baby will be harmed. Some of the proper maneuvers include: McRoberts’ Maneuver; suprapubic pressure, Rubin maneuver, manual delivery of the…

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