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Overview of postpartum hemorrhage

Michael A Belfort, MBBCH, MD, PhD, FRCSC, FRCOG
Section Editors
Charles J Lockwood, MD, MHCM
Deborah Levine, MD
Deputy Editor
Vanessa A Barss, MD, FACOG


Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is an obstetrical emergency. It is a major cause of maternal morbidity, and one of the top three causes of maternal mortality in both high and low per capita income countries, although the absolute risk of death from PPH is much lower in high income countries (1 in 100,000 deliveries in the United Kingdom versus 1 in 1000 deliveries in the developing world). With timely diagnosis, appropriate resources, and appropriate management, however, PPH may be the most preventable cause of maternal mortality.

This topic will present an overview of major issues relating to postpartum hemorrhage, including management of secondary postpartum hemorrhage. Specific issues in management of PPH depend on the setting, vaginal or cesarean delivery, and will be discussed separately:

(See "Management of postpartum hemorrhage at vaginal delivery".)

(See "Management of postpartum hemorrhage at cesarean delivery".)


PPH is described as primary or secondary: Primary PPH occurs in the first 24 hours after delivery (also called early PPH) and secondary PPH occurs 24 hours to 12 weeks after delivery (also called late or delayed PPH).


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Literature review current through: Oct 2015. | This topic last updated: Aug 19, 2015.
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