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What are the signs of shoulder dystocia?

Expecting mothers may wish to research how labor may go. This will help prepare her for the general process and what to expect, but it can also alert her to certain conditions that she may be able to identify if they begin occurring in the delivery room.

One such problem that can be watched for is called shoulder dystocia. This is an obstruction that can occur during labor which can result in injury to the baby or even death if it is not taken care of quickly. The American Association of Family Physicians states that shoulder dystocia occurs when the shoulder of the infant is caught against the pelvic wall of the mother, preventing the child from exiting the birth canal fully. One sign that doctors will be on the look for is “turtling”. This occurs when the infant’s head appears and retracts multiple times, similar to a turtle returning to its shell. Facial discoloration and puffiness can also occur.

Some other potential signs of shoulder dystocia can include prolonged first or second stages of labor, a failure to restitute, no descent or shoulder rotation, or the infant’s head bobbing in the second stage. There is also a 10% increase in a woman’s chance of seeing a second case of shoulder dystocia if they have already had one labor that involved it. While there are some cases in which there are no symptoms or warning signs prior to the shoulder dystocia occurring, the signs that can announce it are not difficult to spot.

Learning about these potential problems and conditions can be frightening. However, learning the signs can also help a person better prepare themselves for their upcoming delivery. Expecting mothers may therefore benefit from the research.

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