Your body goes through many changes postpartum. And, while some conditions may be normal, others can be equally concerning, like heavy blood flow right after birth. What causes this bleeding after childbirth? Does it indicate any underlying condition?
Why Does The Bleeding Occur?
Heavy bleeding soon after childbirth occurs when the womb doesn’t contract enough, or properly to ensure that blood vessels are shut off. The condition is called a uterine atony.
Just before childbirth, the womb contracts and pushes the placenta out. Typically doctors use an injection to put the mother in an actively managed stage. The injection reduces the risk of heavy bleeding just after childbirth.
Ordinarily, women lose around 500 ml to 1000 ml of blood after the birth of a child. But, many women can cope with the loss of blood. Any blood loss of more than 1000 ml within 24 hours of giving birth is called a PPH (Postpartum Hemorrhage). Most women experience minor PPH after childbirth.
When Does PPH Become Harmful?
While primary PPH is common among women, if you lose any more than 1000 ml of blood after childbirth, your doctors will recommend emergency treatment. A PPH can also happen because of a uterine atony, especially if:
- You experience antepartum hemorrhage (bleeding before childbirth)
- You are carrying a big baby or twins
- You have a low-lying placenta
- You are overweight
- You are anemic
- You are 40 years old
- You experienced a short and active labor
How To Know If You Have PPH
You can tell that you are experiencing PPH, because of the symptoms of the condition, such as:
- Lowered blood pressure
- Rapid pulse rate
- A feeling of faintness or dizziness
The midwife usually checks if the fundus (top of the womb) is firm after you’ve given birth. She may even recommend a stomach massage to ensure that the blood flow isn’t too heavy, and doesn’t endanger the new mom. Your OB/GYN may recommend you take iron tablets to normalize your dropping blood levels. In rare cases, a woman may need a blood transfusion.
Other Reasons For Bleeding After Childbirth?
While a uterine atony is usually why women bleed so heavily after childbirth, there are other less common reasons for heavy bleeding in women, and they include:
- A retained placenta
- Injury during childbirth
Pregnancy complications like preeclampsia (a condition characterized by high blood pressure, sometimes with fluid retention), or gestational diabetes, and hypertension
While a primary PPH is quite common, a secondary PPH, which occurs between 24 hours and 12 weeks of your baby’s birth, is rare and only happens in 1% births.
If you are at home, and you experience a gush of blood, or you pass a blood clot, within 12 weeks of giving birth to your child, get in touch with your doctor immediately, as the condition can lead to major complications.