Postpartum care is important during the days and weeks following a vaginal or c-section delivery. The first two to three days of postpartum care are under the observation of nurses and an obstetrician dedicated to the health of women following delivery. However, the majority of the postpartum period occurs at home, with only one to two follow-up appointments scheduled in the six to eight week period following birth. Most women make complete and healthy recoveries during this time when following the advice of their obstetricians. However, some develop complications, such as hemorrhaging. Hemorrhaging is excessive bleeding caused by placental detachment from the uterine wall. It is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.
Did you know…
that postpartum hemorrhaging only occurs in about 4 percent of women after birth? Women are particularly at risk for postpartum hemorrhaging because they experience up to a 50 percent increase in blood volume during pregnancy. It is important to note that blood loss is both common and normal following birth, but women who lose more than 500 ml of blood after a vaginal birth or 1,000 ml of blood following c-section births are said to be hemorrhaging.
Frequently Asked Questions
How will I know if I am hemorrhaging?
You will know you are hemorrhaging if you are losing excessive amounts of blood, experiencing a drop in blood pressure or have a low red blood cell count. Your doctor and nurses will monitor you for hemorrhaging in the 48 – 72 hours after delivery, and you’ll be given instructions for identifying signs of hemorrhaging after you leave the hospital, such as bleeding that gets heavier with time or the passing of golf ball size clots or larger. Hemorrhaging can occur in women up to 6 weeks after birth.
How will my obstetrician treat me if I am hemorrhaging?
If you are hemorrhaging, your doctor will administer fluids via IV and provide iron supplements. You may also be given medications to encourage uterine contractions or a blood transfusion in rare cases.
Will I need to follow any post-treatment care instructions?
Your body will need time to replenish its blood levels, so it is normal to experience some weakness or lightheadedness following a postpartum hemorrhage. Depending on the extent of the hemorrhage, some women may need to be kept in the hospital for medical oversight during the initial stages of recovery. The vast majority of women who experience postpartum hemorrhaging make complete recoveries without long-term side effects.