Having a baby can be a beautiful thing until something goes wrong. The tragedy is that many high-risk conditions can be managed appropriately if the patient is cooperative and the healthcare provider is competent and well trained. Unfortunately, almost 600 pregnant women die in the U.S. each year from complications and the most common complication is significant blood loss after birth or postpartum hemorrhage (PPH).
PPH occurs when there is a blood loss of 500 cc or greater for a vaginal delivery and 1,000 cc after a cesarean section (C-section). Or, if you were admitted with a hemoglobin of 12 and it drops by ten points to 11, there should be a high index of suspicion for PPH as well. Therefore, if you feel lightheaded or dizzy, have palpitations or an increased heart rate after delivering a baby, inform the hospital staff immediately.
The most common cause of PPH is uterine atony or lack of contractions after the baby is delivered. Any pregnant condition that stretches the uterus significantly — such as having twins or a higher gestation, excess amniotic fluid (aka polyhydramnios), a prolonged induction of labor (greater than 24 hours) — increases the risk of PPH. Retained products of conception, such as the placenta, also places the patient at risk for developing PPH.
Other risk factors for PPH include:
- Women with a known placenta previa
- African-American women
- Hypertension or preeclampsia
- Mothers with infants weighing greater than 8.8 pounds (or 4,000 grams)
- Mothers with greater than seven children
- Women with a history of hemophilia
If you have any of the risk factors listed above, please be proactive and discuss the possibility of a PPH with your healthcare provider. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway*