Postpartum hemorrhage is excessive bleeding following the birth of a baby. About 4 percent of women have postpartum hemorrhage and it is more likely with a cesarean birth. Hemorrhage may occur before or after the placenta is delivered. The average amount of blood loss after the birth of a single baby in vaginal delivery is about 500 ml (or about a half of a quart). The average amount of blood loss for a cesarean birth is approximately 1,000 ml (or one quart). Most postpartum hemorrhage occurs right after delivery, but it can occur later as well.
CAUSES OF POSTPARTUM HEMORRHAGE
Once a baby is delivered, the uterus normally continues to contract (tightening of uterine muscles) and expels the placenta. After the placenta is delivered, these contractions help compress the bleeding vessels in the area where the placenta was attached. If the uterus does not contract strongly enough, called uterine atony, these blood vessels bleed freely and hemorrhage occurs. This is the most common cause of postpartum hemorrhage. If small pieces of the placenta remain attached, bleeding is also likely. It is estimated that as much as 600 ml (more than a quart) of blood flows through the placenta each minute in a full-term pregnancy.
Some women are at greater risk for postpartum hemorrhage than others. Risk factors for postpartum hemorrhage include the following:
- placental abruption - the early detachment of the placenta from the uterus.
- placenta previa - the placenta covers or is near the cervical opening.
- overdistended uterus - excessive enlargement of the uterus due to too much amniotic fluid or a large baby, especially with birthweight over 4,000 grams (8.8 pounds).
- multiple pregnancy - more than one placenta and overdistention of the uterus.
- pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) - high blood pressure of pregnancy.
- having many previous births.
- prolonged labor.
- medications to induce labor.
- medications to stop contractions (for preterm labor).
- use of forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery.
- general anesthesia.
Postpartum hemorrhage may also be due to other factors including the following:
- tear in the cervix or vaginal tissues.
- tear in a uterine blood vessel.
- bleeding into a concealed tissue area or space in the pelvis which develops into a hematoma, usually in the vulva or vaginal area.
- blood clotting disorders such as disseminated intravascular coagulation.
- placenta accreta - the placenta is abnormally attached to the inside of the uterus (a condition that occurs in one in 2,500 births and is more common if the placenta is attached over a prior cesarean scar).
- placenta increta - the placental tissues invade the muscle of the uterus.
- placenta percreta - the placental tissues go all the way into the uterine muscle and may break through (rupture).
Although an uncommon event (one in 2,000 deliveries), uterine rupture can be life threatening for the mother. Conditions that may increase the risk of uterine rupture include surgery to remove fibroid (benign) tumors and a prior cesarean scar in the upper part (fundus) of the uterus. It can also occur before delivery and place the fetus at risk as well.
Excessive and rapid blood loss can cause a severe drop in the mother's blood pressure and may lead to shock and death if not treated.
SYMPTOMS OF POSTPARTUM HEMORRHAGE
The following are the most common symptoms of postpartum hemorrhage. However, each woman may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- uncontrolled bleeding
- decreased blood pressure
- increased heart rate
- decrease in the red blood cell count (hematocrit)
- swelling and pain in tissues in the vaginal and perineal area
The symptoms of postpartum hemorrhage may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
DIAGNOSIS OF POSTPARTUM HEMORRHAGE
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnosis is usually based on symptoms, with laboratory tests often helping with the diagnosis. Tests used to diagnose postpartum hemorrhage may include:
- estimation of blood loss (this may be done by counting the number of saturated pads, or by weighing of packs and sponges used to absorb blood; 1 milliliter of blood weighs approximately one gram).
- pulse rate and blood pressure measurement.
- hematocrit (red blood cell count).
- clotting factors in the blood.
HOMOEOPATHIC TREATMENT FOR POSTPARTUM HEMORRHAGE
ARNICA : Arnica is commonly used for bruising and can aid in healing the perineum and other tissues after birth. It can also be used for afterpains and uterine cramping that can occur with nursing.
BELLIS PERENNIS : This homeopathic remedy can be used in the postpartum to treat abdominal symptoms. It too can be helpful for bruising and injury related to birth, as well as afterpains. It can also support healing after a tear. It may help women who have had a C-section.
SEPIA : Sepia is one of the best remedies for assisting women experiencing hormonal changes, making it great for the postpartum period. It can be especially helpful in women experiencing the baby blues or even postpartum depression—those who may feel irritably, apathetic, resentful, or burdened. Women who benefit from this remedy may also feel indifferent to the birth experience and have trouble bonding with the baby. This remedy can also help with pelvic weakness or uterine prolapse.
PHYTOLACCA : This homeopathic remedy can be helpful for issues arising with breastfeeding, including engorgement, painful nipples, and plugged ducts.
NATRUM MUR : This remedy can be helpful when a woman is experiencing feelings of disappointment about the birth experience or overall outcome. It can help when one feels irritation at other’s attempts to console them even though they are sad. Women needing this remedy may also get headaches or heart palpitations when depressed.
PULSATILLA : This remedy can aid women who are feeling emotionally sensitive and prone to tears in the postpartum. These women may feel needy and insecure, wanting constant affection, reassurance, and nurturing. Getting fresh air and avoiding warm stuffy rooms can help. Finding a way to express/release the emotions in some way also greatly assists women experiencing this heightened sensitivity in the postpartum.e.t.c