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.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
The following are potential causes of postpartum hemorrhage:
- Uterine atony (loss of tone of the muscles of the womb)—most common cause
- Medicines that relax the uterus
- Failure to deliver placenta (the organ that links the fetus to the womb)
- Birth trauma (wounds of cervix and/or vagina)
- Bleeding disorder
- Anticoagulant medicines
- Uterine inversion (caused by failure of the placenta to detach from the uterus)
- Retained products of conception after delivery of the placenta (eg, small pieces of placenta and/or fetal membranes)
Last reviewedSeptember 2012by Andrea Chisholm
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.