Q: What is shoulder dystocia?
A: Shoulder dystocia is a birth injury that leaves the newborn with limited movement ("palsy") in one of the arms. When the anterior shoulder of a newborn gets "stuck" in the birth canal, the physician must make additional maneuvers to extract the newborn from the womb. When these maneuvers are done incorrectly, the brachial plexus becomes stretched, and shoulder dystocia can sometimes result. Shoulder dystocia is a factor in about 5000 births a year. With larger babies (more than 9 lbs.), the incidence rate of shoulder dystocia is much higher. Alert and well-trained doctors can avoid shoulder dystocia through several techniques, including Caesarian section.