California Shoulder Dystocia Lawyer

Thomas E. Donahue, Founder


Defending Your Family’s Legal Interests

The term dystocia means difficult delivery. Shoulder dystocia occurs when during delivery the baby’s shoulder gets lodged behind the mother’s pelvis. If not handled properly, this complication can cause Erb’s palsy or even a brain injury.

The presence of this condition depends in part on how the baby moves down the birth canal. While some shoulder dystocia injuries will heal, others are more serious and will last a lifetime.


What Causes Shoulder Dystocia?

This condition is caused when either or both baby’s shoulders lodge behind the mother’s pelvic bone. Most often, the front, or anterior shoulder is involved.

This condition is a risk to both mother and child. This will cause a slower, more difficult delivery. It is usually only noticeable by the doctor’s once the situation presents itself. If the baby is very large however, to prevent this from occurring your doctor may order a C-section.

There are certain risk factors that can make shoulder dystocia more likely to occur:

  • Obesity
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Small pelvis
  • Over-term pregnancy
  • Having twins
  • Induced labor
  • Epidural

If this condition arises and isn’t tended to immediately, the following injuries to the child could occur:

  • Fractured arm or collarbone
  • Oxygen deprivation
  • Brachial plexus injury
  • Erb’s palsy

Shoulder dystocia can also increase risks for the mother, such as:

Postpartum hemorrhage: A difficult delivery can cause the mother to experience internal bleeding.

Vaginal lacerations: With the traumatic nature of a difficult birth, the mother could experience vaginal lacerations. While they will heal with time, they can cause lasting discomfort.



Once the injury is diagnosed, it needs to be addressed as soon as possible. A C-section may be required to prevent further harm. There are also several corrective measures that could help the child which include:

  • Internal rotation of the baby
  • Mc Robert’s maneuver
  • Zanvienelli maneuver
  • Suprapubic pressure


Medical Negligence


This condition can occur due to medical negligence. This can occur when forceps or a vacuum is used to help the baby out, or when the physician handles the situation negligently.


Deadline to File a Claim

It is important to be aware that there are strict deadlines associated with filing a claim. These deadlines are set forth in the statute of limitations. It is important to speak with us at your first opportunity. If these deadlines are missed, you will be unable to pursue a claim.

The California shoulder dystocia lawyers at Donahue & Horrow LLP understand that you are upset, and want answers. We can sort through the facts of your case and create an action plan moving forward to get you and your family the compensation you deserve. Your first consultation is completely free. Call us today at 310-322-0300 or toll free at 877-664-5407.