November 28, 2021

Volume XI, Number 332

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What Is Postpartum Hemorrhage?

One uncommon but known condition that can occur after a baby is born is postpartum hemorrhage. When it happens, a woman has more bleeding than normal — usually about half a quart (500 ml) during vaginal birth or one quart (1,000 ml) after a cesarean birth.

Stanford Children’s Health estimates that about 1 to 5 in 100 women experience postpartum hemorrhage, and that it is more likely to occur with a cesarean birth. Meanwhile, a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that up to 70 percent of hemorrhage-related obstetric deaths, including postpartum hemorrhage, could be prevented by hospitals if the condition is recognized and dealt with properly.

Causes of Postpartum Hemorrhage

After a baby is delivered, the uterus contracts to push out the placenta. Once the placenta is delivered, the contractions put pressure on the bleeding vessels from which the placenta was detached to stop the bleeding. The most common cause of postpartum hemorrhage is a failure of the uterus to contract enough and these vessels continue to bleed.

Other causes can include tears in the cervix or tissues of the vagina, a tear in a blood vessel of the uterus, hematoma (blood outside the blood vessels), blood clotting disorders, and placenta abnormalities.

Certain risk factors are associated with postpartum hemorrhage, including a previous history of postpartum hemorrhage, blood conditions, having a long labor, and issues that affect the placenta.

Signs of Postpartum Hemorrhage

The most common symptoms for postpartum hemorrhage are:

  • Uncontrolled/excessive bleeding

  • Decreased blood pressure

  • Increased heart rate

  • A decrease in red blood cell count

These symptoms look like other health conditions, so it is important that your healthcare provider performs the proper tests in order to make the correct diagnosis. A competent provider will review your health history and potentially run a number of tests to estimate how much blood you have lost, your red blood cell count, clotting factors, and pulse and blood pressure.

It is also important to have a healthcare provider team that can recognize and diagnose the signs of postpartum hemorrhage early and take action.

If a doctor or nurse recognizes the early warning signs of postpartum hemorrhage and fails to act in a timely manner, you could be at greater risk of injury. Postpartum hemorrhage is a very serious condition that can lead to death if not properly treated. It is important to have a healthcare team you can trust to adhere to their duty of care during your pregnancy and delivery.

© 2021 by Clifford Law Offices PC. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 278
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About this Author

Clifford Law Offices prides itself on tackling complex cases and seeing them through to the end. Our commitment to these difficult cases has led to many notable verdicts and settlements — many of them record-setting — in a variety of practice areas.

We have been named in the National Law Journal's Top 50 "America's Elite Trial Lawyers," the only Chicago law firm to be awarded this honor. We have also received first-tier rankings in such practice areas as medical malpractice, product liability and class action work in U.S. News & World Report...

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