The interpretation of umbilical cord gases may not be straightforward following shoulder dystocia. We reviewed Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee data from New Zealand infants with moderate and severe neonatal encephalopathy (NE) for 2010–2017 inclusive. If one or more of: pH of ≤7.1; base excess of ≤–12 mmol/L; or lactate of ≥6 mmol/L were present it was considered an abnormal result. One‐third (12/36) of infants born following shoulder dystocia had documented umbilical cord gases within the normal range. It is important for clinicians to be aware of this possibility when assessing newborn infants with NE.