Postpartum Hemorrhage and its Implications

The birth of a baby is a delicate procedure which requires that an expectant mother seeks the help of a qualified professional or health facility to avert any complications that may occur.

Excessive bleeding, also termed as postpartum haemorrhage, is one complication that may occur during childbirth. It is the leading cause of maternal mortality. According to the World Health Organization, PPH is a loss of 500ml of blood or more within 24 hours after giving birth.

Causes of Postpartum Haemorrhage

There are various reasons why a woman may develop postpartum haemorrhage. These include:

  • Retained products of conception – The most common cause of postpartum haemorrhage is the retained products of conception. These are basically the parts of the placenta and membranes that remain inside the womb after a woman gives birth. Due to their toxic nature, if they stay in the womb for too long, the body will try to dispose of them through bleeding.
  • Uterine atony – This is the failure of the uterus to contract after the birth of a baby. This allows the blood vessels feeding into the site where the placenta was attached to continue to bleed. 
  • Trauma – Trauma sustained during delivery, perhaps following an episiotomy or through the vagina or cervix, ruptured uterus, can also lead to loss of a lot of blood. 

Risk Factors for Postpartum Haemorrhage

Some women are at greater risk for postpartum haemorrhage than others. There are several factors that may increase this risk including;

  • Placental abruption
  • A previous case of postpartum  
  • Vaginal bleeding during the pregnancy or labour
  • If one is anaemic
  • Prolonged labour
  • Induction of labour
  • Age (women who give birth at 40 and above)
  • Placenta Previa
  • Conditions of high blood pressure such as pre-eclampsia

How Can You Tell when You Have Postpartum Hemorrhage?

One can know they suffer PPH depending on the amount of blood loss and their health condition prior to and during the pregnancy.  Other signs to look out for include: 

  • Uncontrolled bleeding 
  • Decreased blood pressure 
  • Increased heart rate 


If a case of PPH is detected, then doctors will know the best treatment to provide. It is important to note that replacing lost blood and fluids is important in treating postpartum haemorrhage. 

Since the condition can be fatal, quick action needs to be taken in treating the cause of bleeding so that the women can fully recover.


#Please note that development differs from one child to another

#Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Last Reviewed January 2019

Sources: myvmc, emedicine.medscape, stanfordchildrens

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