Some blood loss from childbirth is normal, but serious bleeding during or after your delivery can be a complication. During labor and delivery, bleeding may result from problems with the placenta or tears in the vagina, rectum or uterus.
Serious bleeding after childbirth is called "postpartum hemorrhage." It happens in about 5 to 8 out of 100 deliveries. The two main causes of this are retained placenta and uterine atony. When the placenta does not come out after the baby is delivered, or if it breaks up and parts of the placenta are left behind, this is called retained placenta. Uterine atony is when the uterine muscles don't contract and close off the blood vessels of the uterus after the baby is delivered.
Treatment options for heavy bleeding will depend on the source of the bleeding, when it happens, and how serious it is.
For example, if the uterus doesn't start to contract after delivery, the doctor may try to massage the uterus by pressing up through the birth canal with one hand, and down on the abdomen with the other. Other possible treatments of serious bleeding include a c-section if the bleeding occurs before delivery, medication to help the uterus contract after delivery, or additional surgery.
If you lose too much blood, you may need a blood transfusion. Receiving transfused blood is generally safe, but there are always risks, such as the rare possibility of receiving blood that is infected with HIV or hepatitis. The estimated risk of contracting Hepatitis C from blood transfusions is about 1 in 100,000, the risk of Hepatitis B is about 1 in 200,000, and the risk of HIV is about 1 in 600,000.