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Postpartum hemorrhage is excessive blood loss in a woman after childbirth. It is called primary when it is within the first 24 hours after childbirth. Secondary (or delayed) postpartum hemorrhage occurs between 24 hours to six weeks after childbirth.
Some blood loss is normal. However, postpartum hemorrhage is a potentially serious condition that often goes unrecognized. Any excessive blood loss can put a woman at considerable risk. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns about blood loss after giving birth.
Treatment is based on the severity of bleeding. Treatment options include:
Fluids, Oxygen, and/or Resuscitation
You may need IV fluids or an oxygen mask. In severe cases, resuscitation or a
may be necessary.
Bimanual Uterine Massage
A massage technique called bimanual uterine massage can control bleeding. A doctor or nurse will place one hand in your vagina to push on your uterus, while the other hand pushes down on your abdomen. This action will cause a relaxed uterus to contract, thus slowing bleeding.
Bleeding can be caused by a tear in your genital tract or other trauma. The tear will be stitched. In addition, tissue from a retained placenta may need to be removed.
Your doctor may prescribe uterotonics or prostaglandins to stimulate contraction of the uterus.
In some cases, surgery may be needed to stop bleeding. Procedures include:
Uterine packing—sterile materials or a special tamponade device is placed inside the uterine cavity to compress the bleeding area
Repair of arteries
Uterine curettage—scraping the lining of the uterus
Repair of hematoma
Removal of retained placenta
Uterine artery embolization—non-invasive procedure to block the uterine artery
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
ACOG Practice Bulletin: Clinical Management Guidelines for Obstetrician-Gynecologists Number 76, October 2006: postpartum hemorrhage.
2006;108(4):1039-1047. Reaffirmed 2011.
Anderson JM, Etches D. Prevention and management of postpartum hemorrhage.
Am Fam Physician. 2007;75(6):875-882.
Postpartum hemorrhage. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Updated July 19, 2013. Accessed August 6, 2013.
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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.