Losing a little bright red blood during childbirth is normal. When you lose more than 1 liter of blood, it is called excessive blood loss. This can become very dangerous for both mother and child. What causes excessive blood loss and what should you do yourself or what does the doctor do for you?
Blood loss during childbirth is normal
A birth can announce itself in different ways. For example, due to the rupture of the membranes, loss of the mucus plug, contractions or blood loss. Losing the mucus plug can also be accompanied by blood loss. Many women are shocked by blood loss during childbirth, but it is a completely normal phenomenon. Blood loss can already occur during the first contractions. Bright red light blood loss is seen, possibly mixed with mucus that is recognizable as elastic threads or as a plug.
500 to 800 milliliters of blood
Most blood loss occurs during the expulsion of the baby. It is normal to lose 500 to 800 ml of blood. For comparison: during menstruation you lose an average of 50 to 80 ml of blood, spread over 4/5 days. During childbirth you lose more than ten times as much blood in one go than during menstruation in 4 days. So it seems that you lose a lot of blood, but the body can handle this well. Losing 500 to 800 ml of blood is in any case not threatening. Only when you lose half of your blood, more than 2.5 liters, does it become a life-threatening situation. Losing more than 2/3 of your blood is fatal. That’s 3.3 liters. Many women do feel weak after giving birth. This is due to the blood loss. You may also feel weak and listless in the first days after giving birth.
More than 1 liter
More than 7 percent of women who give birth lose more than 1 liter of blood. That is worrying, because a lot of blood loss can ultimately kill you. This concerns blood loss that is lost during or shortly after childbirth. Excessive blood loss is caused, among other things, by an abnormal shape of the uterus, a fibroid, a clotting disorder in women or damage to the birth canal that occurs during childbirth. Shortly after delivery, a lot of blood loss can occur if part or all of the placenta is not delivered and remains in the uterus. In these cases, the uterus continues to contract convulsively to expel the placenta, which can be accompanied by a lot of blood loss. In some cases, blood loss just before delivery is caused by a detached placenta. However, this can also occur much earlier during pregnancy.
In most cases, a lot of blood loss during labor is caused by uterine atony. This is a relaxation of the muscles of the uterus. Women who have given birth before are more likely to experience this. Due to a weakening of the muscles, the uterus can no longer contract properly. The contraction is necessary to pinch off the blood vessels in the wall. When the placenta has separated from the uterine wall, a wound occurs. Blood vessels have been torn open at this location. The contraction of the uterus squeezes these exposed blood vessels so that they become closed and the bleeding quickly stops. In the case of uterine atony, this does not occur or does not occur sufficiently. The result: the blood vessels remain open and bleed. This can be accompanied by a lot of blood loss.
If there is a lot of blood loss, always immediately notify a doctor, midwife or emergency service.
Extensive blood loss must be remedied immediately. If this does not happen, the risk of dying is high. Damage must be treated immediately. If there is any remaining (residual) placenta, it must be surgically removed. In the case of a fibroid or unknown cause, an injection is given to cause the uterus to contract. The blood vessels or artery of the uterus can also be blocked by stuffing the uterus with cotton wool or using a balloon. In severe cases, only removal of the uterus can save the day. Sometimes a blood transfusion is also necessary. This is mainly used in very serious cases. In other cases, the woman is treated as for anemia.