Postpartum Hemorrhage & Medical Malpractice

Postpartum Hemorrhage & Medical Malpractice

by / Wednesday, 23 February 2022 / Published in Medical Malpractice
The top of a baby's head is seen while being held on its mother's lap.

In the time immediately following childbirth, it’s extremely normal for mothers to experience some degree of bleeding. This natural type of bleeding, known as lochia, typically lasts for 24-36 days, but it has been known to last upwards of 6 weeks. On average, women lose approximately one quart of blood following a C-section and half a quart after a natural delivery. However, there is a big difference between the perfectly normal lochia and postpartum hemorrhage. 

Postpartum hemorrhage occurs when a new mother experiences a sudden, large amount of blood loss. Often, this is defined as losing more than a pint of blood within 24 hours, resulting in problems like nausea, pale skin, feeling dizzy, and other symptoms of low blood pressure like blurred vision. Most commonly, postpartum hemorrhage happens within 24 hours of giving birth but it can occur as late as 12 weeks after delivery. According to the March of Dimes, postpartum hemorrhage occurs in about 1% to 5% of people who give birth.

Causes & Risk Factors for Postpartum Hemorrhage

Postpartum hemorrhage can be caused by a few different things, but the most common reason is if the uterus doesn’t contract strongly enough to restrict bleeding vessels in the area where the placenta was attached. This is also known as uterine atony. However, it can also occur due to cervical tearing, problems with the placenta, blood clotting disorders, or a torn blood vessel in the uterus. Retained placenta can also result in postpartum hemorrhage. 

In some cases, there may be risk factors that make a person more likely to experience postpartum hemorrhage than others, such as:

  • Use of birth-assisting tools (forceps, vacuum assistance)
  • Carrying multiple babies
  • Over-distended uterus
  • A quick or prolonged labor
  • Having many previous births
  • Taking medications to prevent preterm labor or to induce labor

Treatment & Complications of Postpartum Hemorrhage

When postpartum hemorrhage occurs, it’s extremely important for doctors to act quickly to provide appropriate treatment. Treatment largely depends on what, exactly, is causing the bleeding. For example, if it’s a case of retained placenta, the remaining placenta will need to be removed. Or if uterine atony is the reason, medication could be used to stimulate the contractions needed to stop the bleeding. 

If postpartum hemorrhage is treated right away, there will very likely be a full recovery. But if the doctor doesn’t take prompt action, the rapid loss of blood can cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure that can lead to shock or death. 

Contact a Michigan Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you experienced a postpartum hemorrhage that could have been prevented or the doctor didn’t act quickly enough to treat it, it’s very important to contact a medical malpractice lawyer for help. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we have experience handling both medical malpractice and birth trauma cases and are ready to help answer any questions you have about your case. Contact us today to get started.

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