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Midwives given updated guidance on preventing postpartum haemorrhage

Friday 23rd December 2016
UK midwives have been given revised guidance on the prevention and treatment of excessive postpartum bleeding. Image: FamVeld via iStock
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Nurses and midwives in the UK have been issued with updated guidance on preventing postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) in women who have just given birth, and in providing support to those affected by this bleeding.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has revised its guidelines for the prevention and treatment of PPH, as it believes that too many women are still suffering from excessive bleeding after childbirth.

As a result, the body wants to see all midwives trained in spotting the signs of PPH, which is classified when a new mother has lost 500 ml or more of blood within the initial 24 hours of giving birth.

Although bleeding is normal following childbirth, if it is excessive, this could be a sign of a more serious problem, such as an undetected vaginal tear or the placenta not being delivered properly. However, the most common factor behind the onset of PPH is the uterus failing to contract as it should.

PPH may not be apparent immediately after birth, so the RCOG wants to make sure that midwives are given the time to advise new mums about the potential signs of the condition so they know to seek professional medical advice if they have any concerns about bleeding in the first few days following their delivery.

There has been a slight reduction in the number of women dying from PPH in the UK in recent years, but the recently-published '2012-2014 Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths and Morbidity Report' showed that 13 new mothers still died from excessive postpartum bleeding during this two-year period. As a result, the RCOG does not believe that the reduction in PPH-related fatalities since 2009 has been significant enough.

Dr Andrew Thomson, co-chair of the RCOG guidelines committee, commented: "These guidelines, which should be adopted by all obstetric-led units in the country, provide clinicians with best-practice advice and guidance on preventing and treating the condition."

Louise Silverton, director for midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, added: "Ideally, training should also include the whole maternity team so that if an emergency does occur, there are good systems in place."

Written by James Puckle

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