Postpartum Hemorrhage: Causes and Treatments

Mothers, in addition to infants, are susceptible to birth injuries. And, unfortunately, the United States is the only developed country in the world whose maternal mortality rate is rising, with an average of 17.4 maternal deaths for every 100,000 births.

The most common cause of maternal death is postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). Learn the causes of and treatments for PPH.

What Causes Postpartum Hemorrhage?

PPH occurs when a mother experiences a blood loss greater than 500cc following a vaginal delivery or 1,000cc following a C-section. Any woman who carries a pregnancy past 20 weeks of gestation is at risk for PPH.

Aside from that, the major risk factors of PPH include the following:

  • Abnormal placental positioning, such as placenta previa or accreta
  • Retained placenta
  • Failure to progress
  • Large for gestational age (LGA) baby
  • Forcep or vacuum delivery
  • Lacerations
  • Induced labor (pitocin)

Doctors, midwives, and the obstetric nurses should be aware of their patients’ risk factors for PPH and prepare for the birth accordingly. The failure to do so may result in PPH from one or more of the following causes:

  • Tone: This is when the uterus is unable to contract or tighten up and there is continuous bleeding; sometimes, a hysterectomy is the only way to save the mother.
  • Trauma: Trauma to the uterus, cervix, vagina, labia, or clitoris can lead to significant bleeding in pregnant women.
  • Retention of the placenta: This can inhibit the uterus from contracting and cause life-threatening, ongoing bleeding.
  • Bleeding disorder: This is when there is so much bleeding that the blood gets diluted, and the blood is unable to form a clot to stop the bleeding. This is called Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation, or DIC. Again, the only treatment for this if the bleeding is not controlled early enough is a hysterectomy to save the mother.

How to Treat Postpartum Hemorrhage

PPH requires immediate treatment. Doctors must recognize the urgency of the situation and apply one or more of the following treatments:

  • Massage the uterus to stimulate it to contract.
  • Give Pitocin or Misoprostol intravenously.
  • Carefully manage the blood replacement to control for the development of DIC.
  • Conduct a uterine artery ligation, ovarian artery ligation, or hysterectomy to control the bleeding.

If your doctor failed to treat you adequately during your labor and delivery, our Philadelphia birth injury attorneys can help you seek justice and recover the compensation you need for medical bills, lost wages, emotional suffering, and more.

Contact The Beasley Firm, LLC at (215) 866-2424 to schedule a free consultation.