Post-Partum Haemorrhage (PPH)

Home » What Happens After Birth » When Complications Arise » Post-Partum Haemorrhage (PPH)

Heavy bleeding after birth 

Post-partum haemorrhage (PPH) is excessive bleeding from the vagina at any time after the baby’s birth and up until six weeks afterwards.

PPH is a complication that can occur after your baby is born, known as the third stage of labour. There will be some blood loss during your birth. However, some people may experience heavy bleeding in the first 24 hours after their baby is born and this bleeding is called a postpartum haemorrhage (PPH). Treating a postpartum haemorrhage

Your midwife will identify if you are experiencing a PPH very soon after the birth of your baby due to the amount of blood you may have lost. They will act very quickly to ensure you are treated straightaway to stop the bleeding. You may find that your birth environment will become busier, as more midwives and doctors will be called quickly to help look after you.  This can feel frightening because the staff will be working quickly and with urgency.

Your midwife or doctor might:

  • massage your womb through your abdomen and sometimes your vagina
  • give you fluids through a drip in your arm

 

They’ll keep a close eye on your:

  • blood pressure
  • pulse
  • respiratory rate (breathing)
  • other vital signs

If the bleeding continues, you may need to have a blood transfusion or an operation and will be taken to theatre straight away. Don’t worry, your new baby will be cared for by your partner or a midwife and will be ready waiting for cuddles when you return. Following a PPH You may need to stay on the postnatal ward until you have recovered a little and you are well enough to go home.

Postpartum Haemorrhage Aftercare

Why Does PPH Occur?

PPH can occur for several reasons, many of which are out of your control. If you do experience a PPH it may help to talk to your midwife about your experience and ask them to explain further so you can understand why it may have happened.

 

How will I feel afterwards?

You may need a longer hospital stay. If tests show that you are very anaemic or if you are feeling faint, dizzy, or light-headed, you may be offered a blood transfusion or an iron infusion.

  • A blood transfusion is when a person gives their blood to help someone else who may need it. The blood is in a bag and is transferred via a thin tube and needle into the vein of the person who receives it. 

 

  • An iron infusion is when a small plastic tube is inserted with a needle into a vein in someone’s arm to allow an iron mixture to transfer directly into the body. image 5

 

     

    Going home

    When you go home you may still be tired and anaemic and you may need treatment with iron to restore the levels in your body. It may take a few weeks before you make a full recovery and start to feel strong again. Your GP may offer you a blood test in 6–8 weeks to check your blood count and to check how you are recovering.

    Self-care

    You can help improve your iron levels following a PPH by taking iron tablets regularly and eating a healthy diet, including iron-rich foods such as meat, pulses, eggs and leafy green vegetables.

    Things to consider

    Following birth and a PPH, you may find yourself feeling exhausted. You may feel shaky, weak, and look very pale. Resting and looking after yourself at this time is very important, but with a new baby, this can sometimes prove to be a challenge. Extra support at home at this time will help you focus on getting stronger and allow your body to recover. After a PPH breastfeeding is still encouraged. Some people find that their breastfeeding journey is affected following a PPH, and extra support from a feeding professional normally benefits both parent and baby. If you experience any difficulties or have any concerns, contact your GP or use the phone number on your hospital discharge information pack. 

    What about future births?

    Everyone’s experience is unique, and the reason for PPH following your birth may not impact any future births at all. For possible future pregnancies, your healthcare provider will discuss your previous experience with you and offer support and guidance for your next birth. Together you will make a plan that enables you to feel prepared and perhaps less concerned.

     

    Support

    You and your birth partner may have found the experience distressing and it is often helpful to talk through the events. You will have the opportunity to discuss what has happened before you leave the hospital. You may be offered, or you can ask for a further meeting with a specialist Birth Debrief Midwife.

    Birth partners are encouraged to attend the birth debrief to share their perspectives on the experience. It is common for partners witnessing the effects of a PPH to feel negatively affected by the experience, as often the person suffering a PPH is not always fully aware of what is happening to them, but the birth partner usually witnesses it all.

    A birth debrief will provide an ideal opportunity to ask questions and share any concerns, helping to lower the risk of unwanted stress or anxiety in the future. If you’re experiencing symptoms of any postnatal mental illness or are worried about your partner’s behaviour, you should contact your GP and/or midwife.

    Support organisations

    There are organisations ready to support you throughout your recovery following a PPH and remember that your maternity unit has specialist midwives available to talk about your experience and offer opportunities for reflection and guidance.

    PANDAS – [email protected] 0808 1961 776 

    Birth Trauma Association – [email protected] 0203 621 6338. 

    www.familylives.org.uk 0808 800 2222 

    Epic Dad www.epicdad.co.uk

    Skip to content