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Post-Partum Hemorrhage

Addressing Maternal Blood Loss During and After Birth - Chicago Medical Negligence Attorney

Birth can be a traumatic process for both a child and a mother. Following labor and delivery, medical personnel will take steps to address any issues that may affect the child's health, but they should also be sure to determine whether treatment is needed to protect the mother from injury. Post-partum hemorrhaging is one serious issue that may affect mothers following birth.

What Is Post-Partum Hemorrhaging?

After a child's birth, some blood loss is expected, since a mother's body manufactures extra blood during pregnancy in order to provide oxygen and nutrients to the child. However, excessive bleeding may occur after the delivery is complete, and if a mother loses too much blood, she may experience a dangerous drop in blood pressure. This can result in her organs not receiving enough blood or oxygen, which can lead to serious injuries, including organ failure, brain damage, or death. While hemorrhaging will typically occur within one day of giving birth, it may take place up to 12 weeks after the end of the pregnancy.

Post-partum hemorrhages may occur for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Uterine atony - If the uterus does not contract to its normal size following birth, hemorrhaging may occur where the placenta was attached to the uterus. Uterine atony can be caused by a stretched or distended uterus, and this may occur if the child was large, if there were multiple fetuses (twins, triplets, or more), or if there was too much amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios).
  • Placenta problems - If the placenta is not passed out of the uterus within 30 to 60 minutes after the delivery of the child, this is known as retained placenta, and it can result in parts of the placenta remaining attached to the uterus, which increases the chances of hemorrhaging. Excessive bleeding may also occur if the mother experienced issues during pregnancy such as placental abruption, placenta previa, or other abnormalities in the placenta.
  • Trauma during birth - During delivery, the mother may experience vaginal lacerations, uterine rupture, or tearing in the cervix, all of which can lead to dangerous blood loss. These types of injuries may occur if tools such as forceps or vacuum extractors were used to assist in delivery, and hemorrhaging is also a risk during prolonged labor or Cesarean delivery.
  • Blood conditions - Blood clotting disorders, such as disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), may affect the body's ability to form blood clots and stop excessive bleeding.
  • Hematoma - Bleeding may occur within the mother's body in a place that is not immediately noticeable. This typically occurs within the pelvis, including in the vagina or vulva.
  • Infections - If the mother experiences a bacterial or viral infection during pregnancy, such as chorioamnionitis, this may cause hemorrhaging.

Risk Factors

Medical personnel should be aware of factors that increase the likelihood that a mother will experience post-partum hemorrhaging, including:

  • Obesity - A body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher will increase the risk of excessive bleeding.
  • Pregnancy-related conditions - A mother may experience hemorrhaging after birth if she had preeclampsia (high blood pressure) or a condition of the liver known as intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP).
  • Labor induction - Medically induced labor using drugs such as Pitocin can cause uterine hyperstimulation, increasing the chances of excess bleeding.
  • Demographic factors - Mothers who are Hispanic or Asian are more likely to experience post-partum hemorrhaging.

Assistance in Cases of Maternal Blood Loss

While post-partum hemorrhaging is relatively rare, occurring in around 1 to 5% of births, it is one of the leading causes of maternal death. In cases where hemorrhaging occurs, immediate steps should be taken to stop the bleeding. In some cases, medications may be administered to help the uterus contract, or a balloon or catheter may be inserted to put pressure on blood vessels where hemorrhaging is occurring. A blood transfusion may also be used to replace lost blood. In other cases, surgery may be performed to stop the bleeding, and if other treatments fail, a hysterectomy may be necessary.

If doctors and nurses do not take steps to recognize and treat post-partum hemorrhaging, this may be considered medical negligence. At the Birth Injury Law Alliance, we understand the devastating effects that a maternal birth injury can have on a family, and if you have suffered harm, we can help you determine the best way to proceed. We offer free consultations and case evaluations, and we will work with you to ensure that you receive financial help that addresses your family's needs. Contact us today by calling 312-945-1300.

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