Shoulder dystocia is a traumatic experience for both the labouring mother, her baby and her partner. It refers to when one of the baby's shoulders gets stuck behind the pelvic bone and prevents the baby's body being born. (see shoulder dystocia video )
Shoulder dystocia can happen at any time during either a normal or instrumental birth; it can even occasionally occur during a c-section .
Normally, during birth the baby's head is delivered, followed, after a short delay by the rest of its body. However, with shoulder dystocia this delay is lengthened, meaning the baby cannot begoin to breathe because its chest is being compressed. The umbilical cord is also being compressed resulting in the baby's oxygen supply being cut off.
It is therefore very important that the baby's shoulder is released urgently so that the baby can be safely delivered and breathe air.