What is delivery hemorrhage?

Qu'est-ce que l'hémorragie de la délivrance ?

What is a delivery hemorrhage?

Delivery is the third phase of childbirth: the expulsion of the placenta, amniotic membranes and umbilical cord. Approximately a quarter to half an hour after birth, contractions resume with low intensity to expel the placenta. This causes moderate bleeding, but the blood vessels close up, in theory, gradually as the uterus retracts.

Occasionally, however, a hemorrhage may occur, known as a delivery hemorrhage, or post-partum hemorrhage. This refers to heavy bleeding (over 500 ml for vaginal deliveries and 1,000 ml for Caesarean sections) that can occur in the 24 to 48 hours following childbirth.

An adult woman has between 6 and 6.5 liters of blood in her body. During pregnancy, she has 500 ml of extra blood in "anticipation" of childbirth. It is therefore normal to lose a small amount of blood, due to the increase in blood mass. However, in the majority of cases, the 500 ml loss threshold is not exceeded, which is why any loss in excess of 500 ml is considered a hemorrhage, representing a risk for the mother.

These hemorrhages affect between 5 and 10 women out of 100 after childbirth. It's a medical emergency that needs to be treated quickly. However, delivery haemorrhages are often diagnosed within 2 hours of delivery, as the woman remains under surveillance in the delivery room during this period.

In some cases, blood loss can be measured using a collection bag, which is a pouch placed under the mother's buttocks after delivery, or by weighing the undersheet placed under the mother during delivery (compared with a blank undersheet).

What are the symptoms of delivery haemorrhage?

As you will have gathered, the symptoms of a delivery hemorrhage are first and foremost bleeding at the time of and following childbirth, particularly vaginal bleeding. Accelerated pulse and dizziness can also be experienced as a result of this blood loss.

What causes this haemorrhage?

There are several possible causes:

  • One of the most common: the placenta has not fully emerged. In theory, the placenta comes out on its own, but sometimes it doesn't come out, or doesn't come out properly, or part of it remains in the uterus, preventing it from closing properly. As a result, the blood vessels fail to close and bleed.

  • Lack of uterine contractions: the most frequent cause. As we saw earlier, it is essential for the uterus to contract following childbirth, in order to expel the placenta and then retract. Sometimes, however, the uterus does not contract or does not contract sufficiently (uterine atony), preventing the blood vessels from closing. Some doctors also believe that induced labor may be a factor in delivery hemorrhage, as the uterus contracts less well.

  • A wound in the genital area. It may not be the uterus that is bleeding, but the cervix or vagina.

  • A coagulation disorder. If a woman bleeds a lot for a long time, it may damage her clotting factors and cause her to bleed even more. This can also happen if she doesn't have enough platelets or her coagulation factors are not right, but it's not systematic.

  • A complication after Caesarean section.

Hemorrhage can also be due to several of these causes. In this case, the amount of blood lost is greater.

Unfortunately, some pregnancies are more at risk than others. These include pregnancies in which the uterus has been very strained (women pregnant with twins or with babies weighing over 4 kg at term, or who have too much amniotic fluid), women suffering from diabetes or hypertension, too rapid or very long deliveries, a caesarean delivery, women who have had several children or who have already suffered a delivery haemorrhage. Nevertheless, these high-risk pregnancies are generally known in advance, enabling doctors to prepare for them. In the case of high-risk pregnancies, we advise you to choose a type II maternity hospital, so that you can benefit from special care if necessary.

We would also like to remind you that Elia can support you even at the most delicate moments of your life with our range of menstrual pants.

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The information contained in the articles on www-elia-lingerie.com is general information only. Although reviewed by health professionals, this information is not error-free, does not constitute health advice or consultation, and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or suggest a course of treatment. Under no circumstances may this information be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.