post partum hemorrhage management

post partum hemorrhage management

Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is a significant cause of maternal morbidity and mortality worldwide. It refers to excessive bleeding following childbirth, typically within the first 24 hours but can occur up to six weeks post-delivery. Effective management of postpartum hemorrhage is crucial to prevent severe complications and ensure the mother’s well-being. This article will discuss the causes, recognition, immediate steps, medical and non-medical interventions, prevention, and the global perspective of postpartum hemorrhage partum hemorrhage management

Welcoming a new life into the world is a joyous occasion, but it is important to be aware of potential complications that can arise during childbirth. Postpartum hemorrhage, characterized by excessive bleeding, poses a significant risk to the mother’s health. Timely recognition and appropriate management are essential in preventing adverse outcomes. This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of postpartum hemorrhage management.

post partum hemorrhage management

Postpartum Hemorrhage

Postpartum hemorrhage is defined as blood loss of 500 milliliters or more within the first 24 hours after vaginal delivery or blood loss of 1,000 milliliters or more after cesarean section. It is categorized as primary when it occurs within the first 24 hours and secondary between 24 hours and six weeks postpartum. The most common cause of postpartum hemorrhage is uterine atony, which refers to the inability of the uterus to contract effectively after childbirth.

Causes of Postpartum Hemorrhage

Uterine Atony

Uterine atony is responsible for the majority of postpartum hemorrhage cases. It occurs when the uterus muscles do not contract adequately to compress the blood vessels and stop bleeding. Factors contributing to uterine atony include:

  • Prolonged labor.
  • Overdistention of the uterus (as seen in multiple pregnancies or polyhydramnios).
  • Certain medications during labour.


Trauma during childbirth can lead to postpartum haemorrhage. This may occur due to lacerations of the birth canal, cervical tears, or uterine rupture. Instrument-assisted deliveries, such as forceps or vacuum extraction, can increase the risk of trauma and subsequent bleeding.

Retained Placenta

Retained placenta, where fragments of the placenta or membranes remain in the uterus after delivery, can cause postpartum hemorrhage. This condition prevents the uterus from contracting effectively and can lead to persistent bleeding.

post partum hemorrhage management

Coagulation Disorders

Coagulation disorders, such as disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) or inherited bleeding disorders, can contribute to postpartum haemorrhage. These conditions impair the blood’s ability to clot, leading to excessive bleeding.

Recognizing Postpartum Hemorrhage

Signs and Symptoms

Early recognition of postpartum haemorrhage is crucial for prompt management. Some common signs and symptoms include:

  • Excessive or continuous bleeding
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Pale skin and rapid heartbeat
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Signs of shock, such as lightheadedness or loss of consciousness

Risk Factors

Certain factors increase the risk of postpartum hemorrhage. These include:

  • Previous history of postpartum haemorrhage
  • Multiple pregnancies or a large baby
  • Prolonged labour or induced labour
  • Precipitous delivery (very rapid labour)
  • Cesarean section delivery
  • Placenta previa or placental abruption
  • Use of medications to induce or augment labour

Immediate Steps for Management

Assessing Blood Loss

Assessing blood loss accurately is crucial in managing postpartum hemorrhage. Healthcare providers may estimate blood loss visually or use quantitative methods, such as measuring blood collected in containers or using specialized devices. This information helps determine the severity of the bleeding and guides further management decisions.

post partum hemorrhage management

Fundal Massage

Fundal massage is a technique used to stimulate uterine contractions and prevent excessive bleeding. It involves gently massaging the uterus, starting from the top and moving downward toward the pubic bone. Fundal massage helps the uterus contract and expel clots or retained placental tissue.


Certain medications may be administered to manage postpartum haemorrhage. These include oxytocin, a hormone that stimulates uterine contractions, and uterotonics, such as misoprostol or methylergonovine, which help prevent or treat uterine atony.

Medical Interventions for Postpartum Hemorrhage

Uterine Tamponade

Uterine tamponade is a technique used to control bleeding by applying pressure to the uterus. This can be achieved through balloon tamponade devices, such as the Bakri balloon or the Foley catheter balloon. These devices are inserted into the uterus and inflated, causing compression of the bleeding vessels.

Surgical Interventions

In severe cases of postpartum haemorrhage, surgical interventions may be necessary. These can include procedures like uterine artery embolization, where the blood vessels supplying the uterus are blocked to control bleeding, or in rare cases, hysterectomy, the surgical removal of the uterus.

Blood Transfusion

In cases of severe postpartum haemorrhage, a blood transfusion may be required to replace the lost blood and restore the mother’s haemoglobin levels. This intervention aims to stabilize the patient and prevent complications associated with severe anaemia.

Non-Medical Interventions for Postpartum Hemorrhage

Balloon Tamponade

Apart from medical interventions, non-medical techniques like balloon tamponade can effectively control postpartum haemorrhage. Balloon tamponade involves the insertion of a balloon device into the uterus and inflating it to exert pressure on the bleeding vessels, thus stopping the haemorrhage.

Uterine Massage and Expression of Clots

Uterine massage and expression of clots can assist in managing postpartum haemorrhage. Healthcare providers may manually massage the uterus to promote contractions and encourage the expulsion of clots or retained placental tissue. This can help stop the bleeding and prevent further complications.

Complementary Therapies

In addition to conventional medical interventions, complementary therapies like acupuncture or herbal remedies may be considered adjunctive measures in postpartum haemorrhage management. However, consulting a healthcare professional before using complementary therapies is essential to ensure their safety and effectiveness.

Prevention of Postpartum Hemorrhage

Preventing postpartum haemorrhage is key to reducing its occurrence and associated complications. Here are some preventive measures:

Antenatal Care

Regular antenatal check-ups are crucial in identifying risk factors for postpartum haemorrhage. Healthcare providers can monitor the mother’s health, identify underlying conditions, and provide appropriate interventions or referrals if partum hemorrhage management.

Active Management of the Third Stage of Labor

Active management of the third stage of labour involves administering uterotonic medications, controlled cord traction, and uterine massage immediately after the baby is delivered. This approach helps prevent uterine atony and reduces the risk of postpartum haemorrhage.

Early Recognition and Prompt Management

Early recognition of postpartum haemorrhage signs and symptoms is vital for timely intervention. Healthcare providers should be vigilant and responsive to any indications of excessive bleeding, ensuring immediate management measures are implemented to control the bleeding.

Postpartum Hemorrhage: A Global Perspective

Developing Countries

Postpartum haemorrhage remains a significant cause of maternal mortality in developing countries, where access to quality healthcare services and resources may be limited. Efforts are being made to improve healthcare infrastructure, increase access to skilled birth attendants, and promote awareness about postpartum haemorrhage management in these regions.

Developed Countries

While the incidence of postpartum haemorrhage is relatively lower in developed countries, it still poses a significant risk to maternal health. Healthcare systems in these countries emphasize the importance of early recognition, prompt management, and access to advanced medical interventions to ensure optimal outcomes for mothers.

post partum hemorrhage management

What is the nursing management for postpartum haemorrhage?

Nursing management plays a crucial role in caring for women experiencing postpartum haemorrhage. Here are some key aspects of nursing management for postpartum haemorrhage:

  1. Early Recognition: Nurses should be vigilant in assessing postpartum women for any signs or symptoms of bleeding. This includes monitoring vital signs, uterine tone, lochia (postpartum bleeding), and the woman’s overall well-being.
  2. Immediate Action: If postpartum haemorrhage is suspected or confirmed, nurses should take immediate action to control the bleeding. This may involve applying fundal pressure, massaging the uterus, or administering uterotonic medications as prescribed by the healthcare provider.
  3. Fluid Resuscitation: Nurses should assess the woman’s fluid status and initiate appropriate resuscitation if necessary. Intravenous fluids may be administered to restore circulating volume and prevent hypovolemic shock.
  4. Medication Administration: Nurses may be responsible for administering medications such as oxytocin, which helps stimulate uterine contractions and reduce bleeding. Other medications, such as misoprostol or methylergonovine, may be used depending on the situation and the healthcare provider’s orders.
  5. Blood Transfusion: In severe cases of postpartum haemorrhage, nurses may assist with blood transfusions. This involves ensuring the compatibility of blood products, monitoring vital signs during transfusion, and managing potential transfusion reactions.
  6. Ongoing Monitoring: Nurses should closely monitor the woman’s vital signs, bleeding, and overall condition throughout managing postpartum haemorrhage. Frequent assessments are essential to detect any changes or complications promptly.
  7. Emotional Support: Postpartum haemorrhage can be a traumatic experience for women and their families. Nurses should provide emotional support, reassurance, and clear communication to alleviate anxiety and address concerns.
  8. Collaboration: Nursing management of postpartum haemorrhage involves collaboration with other healthcare professionals, such as obstetricians, anesthesiologists, and laboratory staff. Effective communication and teamwork are vital to ensure coordinated care.
  9. Patient Education: Nurses play a key role in educating women about postpartum haemorrhage, its signs and symptoms, and the importance of seeking immediate medical attention. They should provide clear instructions on self-care, signs of complications, and follow-up care.
  10. Documentation: Accurate and thorough documentation is essential in managing postpartum haemorrhage. Nurses should document all assessments, interventions, medications, and the woman’s response to treatment. This information ensures continuity of care and assists in future partum hemorrhage management.

What are three interventions for postpartum haemorrhage?

Here are three interventions commonly used for postpartum haemorrhage:

  1. Uterine Massage: Uterine massage is a manual technique performed by healthcare providers, including nurses, to stimulate uterine contractions and promote the expulsion of clots or retained placental fragments. This intervention helps the uterus contract effectively, reducing bleeding. Uterine massage involves gently massaging the fundus of the uterus in a circular motion while applying gentle pressure.
  2. Uterotonic Medications: Uterotonic medications are drugs that promote uterine contractions, helping to control bleeding. The most commonly used uterotonic medication is oxytocin. It can be administered intravenously or intramuscularly to stimulate uterine muscle contraction, reduce bleeding, and prevent further complications. Other uterotonic medications, such as misoprostol and methylergonovine, may also be used based on the healthcare provider’s judgment and the specific clinical situation.
  3. Balloon Tamponade: Balloon tamponade is a mechanical intervention used when uterine massage and uterotonic medications are ineffective or not feasible. It involves inserting a specialized balloon into the uterus and inflating it with saline solution to apply pressure against the uterine walls, controlling bleeding. Balloon tamponade helps to compress bleeding vessels and can be an effective temporary measure while further interventions are partum hemorrhage management

These interventions are part of a comprehensive approach to managing postpartum hemorrhage. It’s important to note that the choice of interventions depends on the severity and underlying cause of the bleeding and the healthcare provider’s assessment and judgment. Prompt recognition of postpartum haemorrhage and timely implementation of appropriate interventions are essential for successful management and the woman’s well-being.

What IV fluids are used for postpartum haemorrhage?

Intravenous (IV) fluids are crucial in managing postpartum haemorrhage by restoring fluid volume and maintaining hemodynamic stability. The specific type of IV fluids used may vary based on the woman’s clinical condition and the healthcare provider’s preference. Here are the commonly used IV fluids for postpartum haemorrhage:

  1. Crystalloids: Crystalloid solutions are the most frequently used IV fluids in postpartum haemorrhage. They contain water and electrolytes, which help replace lost fluids and maintain fluid balance. Examples of crystalloid solutions include normal saline (0.9% sodium chloride) and lactated Ringer’s solution. These solutions are readily available, cost-effective, and can be administered quickly to address hypovolemia caused by excessive bleeding.
  2. Colloids: Colloid solutions contain larger molecules, such as albumin or synthetic colloids, which help to increase intravascular volume. They have higher oncotic pressure and stay in the bloodstream longer than crystalloids. Colloid solutions may be considered in cases of severe bleeding or when crystalloid therapy alone is insufficient to restore adequate intravascular volume.
  3. Blood Products: In cases of significant blood loss, transfusion of blood products may be necessary. Blood products commonly used for postpartum haemorrhage include packed red blood cells, platelets, and fresh frozen plasma. These products help replace lost blood components, restore oxygen-carrying capacity, and correct coagulation abnormalities that may arise due to excessive partum hemorrhage management

The choice of IV fluids for postpartum hemorrhage is determined by the woman’s clinical condition, including hemodynamic status, blood loss, and laboratory findings. The healthcare provider will assess the woman’s needs and determine the appropriate type and volume of IV fluids required for resuscitation and stabilization.

How much IV fluid per day?

The amount of IV fluid administered daily depends on several factors, including the individual’s clinical condition, fluid status, ongoing losses, and the healthcare provider’s assessment. It is essential to determine the appropriate fluid volume on a case-by-case basis. Fluid requirements can vary widely among individuals and may change throughout treatment.

The healthcare provider will assess the woman’s fluid needs based on blood loss, hemodynamic stability, urine output, laboratory values, and clinical response. They will consider the specific situation and adjust the IV fluid therapy accordingly.

The healthcare provider may prescribe fluid replacement based on maintenance requirements to provide adequate hydration and support normal physiological functions. Maintenance fluid requirements are calculated based on the individual’s weight, and additional fluids may be added to account for ongoing losses, such as postpartum partum hemorrhage management

It’s important to note that IV fluid therapy should be carefully monitored to avoid complications such as fluid overload or electrolyte imbalances. The healthcare team will regularly assess the woman’s fluid balance, vital signs, urine output, and laboratory values to ensure appropriate fluid management.

The specific amount of IV fluid per day can vary greatly depending on the woman’s condition and the healthcare provider’s judgment. It is best to consult with the healthcare team managing the individual’s care to determine the appropriate fluid volume and ensure optimal hydration and hemodynamic stability.

post partum hemorrhage management


Postpartum haemorrhage is a critical obstetric emergency that requires swift and effective management. Timely recognition, immediate steps such as fundal massage and medication administration, medical and non-medical interventions, and preventive measures are essential in reducing the impact of postpartum haemorrhage on maternal health. By implementing comprehensive strategies, healthcare providers can improve outcomes and ensure the well-being of mothers worldwide.


Q: Can postpartum haemorrhage occur after a cesarean section?

  1. A: Postpartum haemorrhage can occur after vaginal delivery and cesarean section.

Q: Are there any long-term complications associated with postpartum haemorrhage?

  1. A: Severe postpartum haemorrhage can lead to long-term complications such as anaemia, organ dysfunction, or even death if not promptly managed.postpartum haemorrhage management.

Q: Can postpartum haemorrhage be prevented?

  1. A: While it may not be entirely preventable, early recognition, active management of the third stage of labour, and appropriate interventions can significantly reduce the risk of postpartum haemorrhage.

Q: Are there any alternative therapies that can help manage postpartum haemorrhage?

  1. A: Some complementary therapies, such as acupuncture or herbal remedies, may be adjunctive measures. However, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional before using them.

Q: How does postpartum haemorrhage impact the baby?

  1. A: Postpartum haemorrhage can indirectly affect the baby’s well-being if the mother’s health is compromised. Prompt management is crucial to ensure the baby’s safety.

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