Skip to Content

Five Causes of Excessive Uterine Bleeding at Delivery

Childbirth Injury Attorneys Serving Victims across New York

As noted in one recent medical study, human childbirth is “treacherous.” For example, in a “normal” delivery, the mother sustains significant blood loss – about one pint after the birth of a single baby in vaginal delivery. For a cesarean birth, the average blood loss is twice that amount. While most postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) – the medical term for excessive bleeding following the birth of a baby – occurs right after delivery, it can occur later, as well. Unless it is adequately treated, PPH can lead to shock and even death.

According to that same study, PPH is the leading cause of maternal mortality worldwide. It is responsible for 35 percent of all maternal deaths. What are some of the causes of excessive uterine bleeding following delivery? Here are five of the most common.

Uterine Atony

Following the delivery of a baby, the uterus normally continues to contract in order to expel the placenta. As the placenta (afterbirth) is “delivered,” the contractions help compress the blood vessels along the uterine wall where the placenta was attached. Insufficient contraction – uterine atony – is the most common cause of excessive bleeding.

Forceps or Vacuum-Assisted Delivery

Use of forceps or vacuum “extraction” poses some additional risk of injury to both mother and baby. In some cases, of course, the obstetrician has no choice, but these methods of delivery can cause additional damage to delicate tissues, including the uterine lining, resulting in excessive bleeding.

Multiple Pregnancy

In most multiple pregnancies (an exception is identical twins), more than one placenta is present within the uterus. Since as much as a quarter of blood flows through the healthy placenta each minute, multiple placentas increase the risk of excessive bleeding following childbirth. Multiple pregnancy also often leads to an overdistended uterus – excessive enlargement of the uterus due to additional volumes of amniotic fluid or multiple babies, increasing the risk of bleeding following childbirth.

Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension

High blood pressure can be induced by pregnancy. If the condition is inadequately treated or maintained, the mother can be at risk of PPH.

Placental Abruption or Placenta Previa

Excessive bleeding can also be associated with placental abruption – the early detachment of the placenta from the uterus. Placenta previa, a condition that exists when the placenta covers or is near the cervical opening, is also associated with greater risk of PPH.

Treatment for Postpartum Hemorrhage

The primary aim in any medical treatment associated with PPH is to find and stop the cause of bleeding. Some medications can be prescribed that stimulate uterine contractions. Manual massage of the uterus is quite commonly performed to stimulate contractions. If the problem is sufficiently serious, surgical intervention may be required.

Was PPH Caused by Medical Error?

In some cases, the PPH may have resulted from inadequate treatment or other medical error. In such cases, the obstetrician, the hospital, and its staff may be liable not only for the costs associated with additional treatment, but for the pain and suffering endured by the mother. If the mother dies as a result of hemorrhaging and it is determined that failure to detect or treat the bleeding promptly was the cause, there may be cause for a wrongful death lawsuit.

E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy: Experienced, Caring Attorneys

If you or a member of your family have suffered from excessive bleeding following a delivery, you may have a valid claim for damages. The attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy have the experience to handle your medical malpractice case. While we are experts at negotiating an appropriate settlement, we also have the skill, resources, and tenacity to take your case to trial, if necessary.

We are one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the Capital District. We have been representing clients for more than 125 years; our law practice has stood the test of time. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 730-7270 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.