Postpartum hemorrhage after delivery occurs when there is a loss of more than 500 ml of blood after a vaginal delivery or 1000 ml of blood following a C-section. If the heavy bleeding is not controlled it can lead to shock, loss of ability to have future pregnancies, permanent brain damage or maternal death.
Symptoms of postpartum hemorrhage may include:
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- A drop in blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
If bleeding is due to hematoma, a collection of blood outside a blood vessel, swelling and pain in the vaginal or perineal area may occur as well.
While postpartum hematoma is rare, following only about 5 percent of all pregnancies, hospitals, doctors, and attending healthcare professionals should monitor new mothers for these symptoms and provide swift treatment when they present.
What Causes Postpartum Hemorrhaging?
Uterine atony, or the inability of the uterus to contract, is the cause of most cases of excessive bleeding after delivery, and can often be corrected with uterine massage along with the medication Pitocin or oxytocin. Other causes of postpartum hemorrhage are:
- Early detachment of the placenta from the uterus (placental abruption)
- The placenta covers or is too near the cervical opening (placental previa)
- Abnormal placental attachment (placental accrete)
- Placental tissues invade uterine muscles (placental increta)
- Placental tissues rupture uterine wall (placental percreta)
- An over-distended uterus due to fluid buildup or a larger baby
- Tears in the tissue of the cervix or vagina
- Tears in uterine blood vessels
- Blood clot disorders
Postpartum hemorrhaging may be more common in women who have had multiple pregnancies. Additional risk factors include:
- Gestational hypertension
The issue may also be a result of steps taken by medical professionals during labor or delivery such as:
- Forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery
- Medications to induce labor
- Medications to stop contractions
- Exposure to infection
Understanding Your Rights
If you or someone close to you developed excessive bleeding or hemorrhage after delivery, and feel it was not properly treated, you may want to contact a law firm with doctor/lawyers or experienced medical malpractice attorneys for additional information and a free consultation.
Kline & Specter, PC has more than 40 attorneys, five of whom are also medical doctors, including two who are highly experienced OB-GYNs. The law firm maintains offices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and New York, enabling us to help families dealing with the consequences of medical malpractice and negligence throughout the region.