Postpartum hemorrhage is excessive blood loss in a woman after childbirth. It is called primary when it is within the first 24 hours after childbirth. Secondary (or delayed) postpartum hemorrhage occurs between 24 hours to six weeks after childbirth.
Some blood loss is normal. However, postpartum hemorrhage is a potentially serious condition that often goes unrecognized. Any excessive blood loss can put a woman at considerable risk. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns about blood loss after giving birth.
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Postpartum hemorrhage can be caused by:
- A loss of muscle tone in the uterus after birth
- Wounds in the birth canal
- Failure to deliver the placenta
- Maternal bleeding disorders that prevent blood clotting (rare)
In rare cases, uterine inversion or uterine rupture may also cause postpartum hemorrhage.
Last reviewedAugust 2013by Andrea Chisholm; Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.