Postpartum Hemorrhage

Postpartum hemorrhage is a term used to describe excessive bleeding after a birth. It is more common in Cesarean births. Most postpartum hemorrhage occurs right after delivery.

Postpartum hemorrhage is very serious and can cause a severe drop in a woman’s blood pressure that may lead to shock or worse if not treated. However, if it is detected and treated quickly, it can lead to a full recovery.

The symptoms of postpartum hemorrhage may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis. If a woman experiences these symptoms shortly after birth, she should get help immediately: 

  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Increased heart rate
  • Swelling and pain in the vaginal area

Here are some of the most common conditions that contribute to postpartum hemorrhage: 

  • Placental Abruption: When the placenta detaches from the uterus too early
  • Placenta Previa: When the placenta covers or is near the cervical opening
  • Over distended Uterus: The uterus because too large, due to too much amniotic fluid or a large baby
  • High blood pressure
  • Previously giving birth many times
  • Giving birth to twins, triplets or more babies
  • Prolonged labor
  • Infection
  • Obesity
  • Medications that induce labor or stop contractions
  • Use of forceps or vacuum during delivery
  • Use of general anesthesia

Postpartum hemorrhage may also be due to other factors such as:

  • Placenta Accreta: When the placenta abnormally attaches to the inside of the uterus
  • Placenta Increta: When the placenta invades the uterine muscles.
  • Placenta Percreta: When the placental tissues go into the uterus and ruptures it
  • Tears in the cervix, vagina or uterine blood vessels
  • Blood clotting issues

Treating Postpartum Hemorrhage
Replacing lost blood and fluids is critical and must happen quickly. Often a woman will receive intravenous (IV) fluids as well as a blood transfusion to help prevent shock. Other treatments vary, depending on your unique circumstances. Your treatment may also include: 

  • Medication or massage, to stimulate contractions
  • Removing any placenta remaining in the uterus
  • Compressing the bleeding by packing the uterus with sponges
  • Tying off of bleeding blood vessels
  • Surgery to find the cause of the bleeding
  • Hysterectomy: surgical removal of the uterus. In most cases, this is a last resort.