I found some interesting studies that seem to shed some new light on 3rd stage physiology. I'll put full references below, but basically they are the results of 'continuous, dynamic, ultrasound imaging of the 3rd stage of labour'. (dreadfully intrusive for women of course at this time and would affect their position - no mention of ethical approval!)
25 'patients' with normal spontaneous 'deliveries' and five with prolonged 3rd stage were studied, no hx of CS or pathological 3rd stage. First scan assessed placental location: 10 were anterior, four fundal and four lateral (we all know placentas can implant anywhere - but the pictures of 3rd stage in MW textbooks always show mechanism of fundal separation - not so helpful). Syntometrine was given for 3rd stage immediately after birth.
Here's the main findings:
"Real-time ultrasonography of the 3rd stage in patients with normal deliveries showed that immediately after delivery the placenta-free wall became thick and the placenta-site wall remained thin. Thereafter the placenta-site wall thickened gradually from <1cm to >2cm. At this point the placenta was already separated and could be seen detached from the uterine wall as it began a sliding movement toward the cervix. No haematoma was observed between the placenta and its adjacent uterine wall. Once the placenta began its movement, the zone of separation remained unchanged and a small amount of blood collected in the uterine cavity, indicating that bleeding during placental separation is rather a consequence and not a cause. In six normal deliveries gentle traction of the cord was applied before contraction of the placenta-site wall occurred. This procedure had no effect until all areas of the uterine wall had thickened, indicating that contraction should occur before detachment ensues. On the basis of this sequence of events we propose to divide the 3rd stage of labour into 4 phases: latent phase, contraction phase, detachment phase and expulsion phase......On the basis of measurements of the various phases, it is apparent that the length of the 3rd stage is primarily determined by the latent phase (median 3mins). Once the ensuing contraction phase begins, the other 3 phases are shorter and with less variability"
They go on to say:
In five cases of prolonged 3rd stage: "In four cases after a prolonged latent phase of 50-120, the contraction phase ensued, ending with both thick uterine walls. Now, gentle traction of the cord was successful and normal placentas were delivered.....in the fifth case, however, the adjacent uterine wall remained thin and after 120 minutes and adherent placenta was lysed and removed manually under GA.....our policy is to avoid interventions in the first 2 hours so long as no bleeding occurs.
"After completion of the study we followed an additional 6 cases in which oxytocic drugs were withheld. Those cases exhibited the same ultrasonographic findings"
Same authors did further study of 101 women with normal deliveries with focus on the actual separation:
Results: "Separation in 97 cases was multiphasic. Monophasic separation in which all parts of the placenta appeared to separate simultaneously occurred in only two cases. Pathological prolongation of the 3rd stage precluded determination of separation in 2 cases. 92 cases had a uterine wall placenta (anterior or posterior); the separation commenced at one pole and progressed sequentially towards the opposite side in 89 of them. The process started at the lower pole (down-up separation) in 83/92 cases (90.2%) and began from the upper pole (Up-down separation) in only 6/92 cases (6.5%). Nine cases had a fundal placenta; of these the separation was also multiphasic but began sequentially from either the anterior or posterior pole, or simultaneously from both in 8 (88.9%) cases so that the fundal part was separated last (bipolar separation)"
Interesting aye - not a particularly large study I know, but shows that our classic textbook picture of fundal placenta separating from the middle first aided by the retroplacental clot may be a load of &*%$#
Wonder if this info will ever filter through into MW teaching and texts?
sequential separation of the placenta.
Herman A, Zimerman A, Arieli S, Tovbin Y, Bezer M, Bukovsky I, Panski M.
Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2002 Mar;19(3):278-81.
CONCLUSIONS: Placental separation is usually an orderly multiphasic phenomenon that begins mostly from the lower pole of the placenta and propagates sequentially upwards. Fundal placentae, however, separate first at their poles with the fundal part being separated last. Recognition of the sequence of events and understanding of the mechanism of placental separation may aid in detecting cases prone to third-stage complications and in managing pathological ones.
third stage of labor for early detection of failed placental
Krapp M, Baschat AA, Hankeln M, Gembruch U.
Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2000 Feb;15(2):138-42.
CONCLUSION: Cessation of blood flow between the basal placenta and myometrium following delivery of the baby is the sonographic hallmark of normal placental separation. Persistent blood flow demonstrated by color Doppler sonography is suggestive of placenta accreta.
labor: new perspectives into third-stage mechanisms.
Herman A, Weinraub Z, Bukovsky I, Arieli S, Zabow P, Caspi E, Ron-El R.
Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1993 May;168(5):1496-9.
CONCLUSION: Shearing forces seem to tear the decidual septae and
thereby separate the placenta. This process is completed only when
the placenta-site wall attains full thickness. In cases of
prolonged third-stage labor, traction of the cord should be
applied only when this phase is completed and the actual sliding
movement of the placenta is observed.
At birth, immediate continuous skin-to-skin contact with the baby is initiated for the first 3½ minutes postpartum. If the woman requests cord cutting, don't cut the cord before 3 minutes. The midwife keeps her hands off the fundus. At 4 minutes the midwife directs the mother into a good deep squat with her bottom almost touching the floor and her feet flat on the floor or the floor of an empty bathtub, over a low plastic bowl if midwife wishes to measure blood loss. If the mother requests for the cord to be cut, the mother hands the baby to someone. The midwife gives verbal encouragement to push. The woman will not feel a contraction – she pushes without feeling a contraction. If the placenta is not delivered by 5 minutes 0 seconds, the midwife helps the cord to come further out by gently pulling it down about 5-15 cm in length in order to reassure the mother and herself that the placenta is very low and all she has to do is push. The woman is in a low squat while she pushes out the placenta. The time of delivery is noted. Immediately after delivery of the placenta, the mother is helped to put on an absorbent pad and underwear(optional), helped into bed, and immediately given the baby. The uterus is then immediately massaged to check for clots. If blood completely fills the absorbent disposable pad during the next five minutes, a shot of either 10 IU Pitocin IM or 0.2 mg methergine IM (intramuscularly), or both is given at 10 minutes postpartum. Early suckling at the breast is initiated. If a woman has a history of PPH>1000 mL at a previous birth, or if she is had twins, prophylactic methergine 0.2 cc IM may be considered after the placenta is delivered.
Judy has put up a YouTube
video of this protocol in action.
I think all midwives should carry Cytotec for emergency use in
case of postpartum hemorrhage. Certainly if a woman has a
history of PPH, it would seem especially important to do so!
I deal with "normal" women birthing at home. Their infants
are birthed up onto the women's chests and never leave their mom's
skin for any reason. Mother is given a postpartum tea mixture and
told "This tea will help your placenta come out smoothly, all in
one piece" (hypnotic induction). She is watched for bleeding
as unobtrusively as possible but no other mention is made of the
placenta for at least 30 mins., timed by the clock. At the
end of exactly 30 mins., almost all the women say "I'm feeling
some more cramps now", they are told to push for their
placenta and most are out in about 45 mins. I attend about
40 births per year. I have not seen a p.p.h. in about 8
years. I buy a prescription of pit ampules each year and at
the end of the year I throw the whole bunch into my teaching box
because they've expired unused.
In response to the question, does hemorrhage repeat itself,
statistically, I learned in Midwifery School that there is a 16%
increased risk of hemorrhage (specifically, post partum
hemorrhage) with subsequent pregnancies. I think this is an
acceptable risk (some may not). More importantly, exploring WHY
the woman may have hemorrhaged in an attempt to avoid repeat
circumstances prenatally is useful. Doing those things
preventatively with nutrition (the midwife's "specialty" :-)) and
discussing management with the mom should the situation recur are
some approaches I take with this history. I suggest alfalfa
tablets in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy in hopes of building up
the client's natural Vitamin K. Nutritionally, I try to make sure
that she is not "anemic" using food sources for building iron,
suggest lots of alfalfa sprouts, onions, and garlic for Vitamin K,
and sometimes have them drink a tea of raspberry
leaf/nettles/shepherd's purse the last several weeks.
My friend who does home births recommends Shepherd's Purse.
They encourage this for all their moms, not just those with hx of
hemorrhage, but it would be especially important for them.
They have used this for about 10 years now and have found it very
Also try yellow dock tincture. 3 droppers 2 xa day. This will
help all the iron be absorbed in her body. Also dandelion root
tincture is high in iron...same dosage. These 2 together is an
alternative to L. Chlorophyll or if she's real anemic try all of
Chinese Medicine for Third Stage
color Doppler sonography.
Krapp M, Katalinic A, Smrcek J, Geipel A, Berg C, Germer U, Gembruch U.
Arch Gynecol Obstet 2003 Feb;267(4):202-4
Notice that while there was a reduction in transfusion rates,
there was also an increase in women returning to the hospital
after discharge for treatment of abnormal bleeding and no
difference in bleeding at levels severe enough to cause symptoms.
Henci Goer wrote the chapter on third-stage management as
co-author of her new book. She writes, "The excess
percentages were low and identical (1-2%), so essentially you are
trading a small potential for solvable bleeding problems right
after birth for the same potential later on. Furthermore, any
reduction in immediate postpartum excessive bleeding does not take
into account the degree to which medical-model labor management
contributes to excess postpartum bleeding via oxytocin use,
instrumental vaginal delivery, and episiotomy. The gap would
probably disappear were all women given optimal care. There is
also no evidence that active management of third stage improves
outcomes over treating excessive bleeding when it occurs while at
the same time, it introduces the possibility of iatrogenic harm.
For example, is it really a good idea to pull on the umbilical
cord when you don't know how well the other end is attached, i.e.,
velamentous insertion or placenta accreta?"
labour: the Hinchingbrooke randomised controlled trial. [Medline
Rogers J, Wood J, McCandlish R, Ayers S, Truesdale A, Elbourne D
Lancet 1998 Mar 7;351(9104):693-9
INTERPRETATION: Active management of the third stage reduces the risk of PPH, whatever the woman's posture, even when midwives are familiar with both approaches. We recommend that clinical guidelines in hospital settings advocate active management (with oxytocin alone). However, decisions about individual care should take into account the weights placed by pregnant women and their caregivers on blood loss compared with an intervention-free third stage.The Hinchingbrooke randomised controlled trial labour policy cards - Policies for the management of the third stage of labour in the Hinchingbrooke randomised controlled trial.
implications for practice?
Rogers J, Wood J
Pract Midwife 1999 Feb;2(2):35-7
Please, please would you read the Bristol trial again? I would
replace the term 'expressed reservations' with 'serious
methodological flaws'. (For anyone who hasn't read this paper, it
is considered by many people I know as a prime example of how you
can bias research to say anything you like). Huntingdon Hospital,
England, did a terrific third stage trial about 4 years ago which
came up with entirely conflicting results - they showed
physiological third stage to be safer than synt. (pitocin) and
controlled cord traction.
One of the abstracts from the recent society of Perinatal Obstetricians meeting (reference provided upon request) described a randomized trial of physiologic management of third stage (no intervention) vs. pitocin with birth of baby and controlled cord traction (Brandt Andrews maneuver).
Results indicated less retained placenta, lower ebl, less pph,
less manual removal of placenta with routine pitocin and
controlled cord traction.
I always tell people who recite this study to remember three points:
1. That slight decrease in average blood loss is not a clinically important amount.
2 The study had two points in the protocol; Controlled Cord
Traction during the first strong post-partum contraction (NOT
uterine massage), and AN INJECTION OF PITOCIN/SYNTOCINON WITHIN 15
SECONDS OF BIRTH -- preferably with the birth of the shoulders!
THIS STUDY IS NOT APPLICABLE UNLESS THE PITOCIN ROUTINE IS FOLLOWED!
3. The decrease in length of third stage and the slight reduction in average loss was balanced by a higher incidence of hemorrhaging and of manual removal.
Many of those who cite this research seem to have only read the headlines, and not the rest of the study (or even abstracts of the study)
I think an argument can be made that an attentive third stage is a good idea (the midwife being ready to move on the placenta at the first moments of separation), but the benefits of routine CCT without the additional protocol of routine oxytoxics, are not yet proved.
People hold strong opinions about third-stage management. I think
that maternal wishes should be a strong factor in midwife
opinions, and if the woman desires a physiological third stage her
midwife should honor her wishes! Obviously, the midwife will
intervene if there's a problem, but outside of that eventuality,
the woman is in charge.
simple alternative to parenteral oxytocics for the third stage
Irons DW, Sriskandabalan P, Bullough CH
Int J Gynaecol Obstet 1994 Jul;46(1):15-8
Nipple stimulation showed similar results to syntometrine.
Kim YM, Tejani N, Chayen B, Verma UL
J Reprod Med 1986 Nov;31(11):1033-4
Nipple stimulation was found to be a safe alternative to oxytocin
in the management of the third stage of labor.
Article on Third Stage by Victoria,
My protocols require that I consult if the placenta is not out by
30 minutes after the baby is born. I wait patiently for about 20
minutes. Then I drain the cord. Then I try a little gentle fundal
massage. Somewhere around 15-20 minutes after the baby I have the
mom start doing some visualization about the placenta sliding off
the wall of the uterus and slipping out. At 25 minutes I use IM or
IV Pitocin (depending on if she already has an IV or not).
Finally, at 30 minutes I consult. Usually these other measures
will get the placenta before then. I also feel comfortable sliding
one or two fingers into the vagina to see if I can feel the
placenta sitting there in the cervix. If it is, I have the mom
push it out while I apply gentle cord traction. I would
estimate that I've only had to consult for "prolonged" 3rd stage
about 4 or 5 times in the last 1000 births.
Homebirth midwives should have an expectant management policy with the placenta and the expectation is that the mother will birth her placenta just fine unless proven differently. Hurrying the placenta and interfering with the bonding by doing BPs is a recipe to "create what you fear". The women that I work with have a 30 minute rule for 3rd stage---no mention of the placenta until 30 mins has elapsed, no phone calls to family. Mother and baby spend 30 mins undisturbed (falling in love, exuding hormones, kept warm, lying down, skin to skin). We observe the mother's face for signs of wellness---are her eyes bright and shining? does she have that pretty p.p. flush?? is she smiling??
When left alone, the mother almost always says right at the 30 min mark "I have to push again" and we have the bowl ready for the placenta. If you think about it, the uterus is probably contracting every 3 mins so it takes about 10 of those tightenings to spontaneously birth a placenta.
If the mother is having clotting problems or bleeding too much
she will look pale and be asking someone else to hold her
baby. These are signs to get on it and find out what is
wrong but these cases are extremely rare with a physiological 3rd
stage. That grand multip uterus that pushes a baby out
efficiently will also push out a placenta.
We were discussing pitocin and saline in the cord to bring about
separation of the placenta. She mentioned she uses saline (10ccs,
I think) occasionally and the placenta has always followed within
a few minutes. I thought it interesting enough to bring to the
As for when I inject Saline into the cord, I do it when usual
methods to deliver the placenta have failed., and either the Mom
or I feel the need to get on with things and get everything over
so she can give her undivided attention to the baby and have me
stop futzing with the cord, etc. Usually by this point there is
partial separation, and it just needs a little nudge to completely
separate. Of course if bleeding seems heavy I don't wait . Hope
this answers your questions.
Most/many of us with a non-pharmaceutical view of third stage see it as a three step process;
1: separation from the uterine wall;
2: expulsion (often, but not always with the separation contraction) into the lower uterine segment -- or upper vagina;
3: expression (by mom or attendant) from the vagina.
A partially separated placenta will allow bleeding; as will a fully separated placenta which is still in the upper uterus. We have to get these out right away.
A placenta which is sitting in the lower segment with a tightly contracted uterus on top of it, isn't causing any problems and (though we will watch it carefully) we can wait till stronger contractions expel it, or mom feels up to pushing it out or standing to deliver, or we give a little cord traction and pull it out.
Controlled cord traction/modified Brandt-Andrews - as used in this part of the world -- is designed to bypass this second phase and bring the placenta from the upper uterus to the introitus at the moment of separation. Advantages are that it finishes third stage more quickly; and avoids leaving a separated placenta in the upper uterus and it MIGHT avoid partial separation and entrapment. ( Few in this region use pitocin with the shoulders -- most use it post placenta -- I always wonder how this affects the results since the studies on active management have all been done with pitocin/methergine etc with the shoulders).
Disadvantages are that it might CAUSE partial separation and profuse bleeding; it may leave portions of placenta or membranes in the upper uterus; and some folks seem to pull the cords off pretty regularly and then feel compelled to do a manual extraction[Grin]..
I think it is seldom necessary; though usually causes no great harm.
Most of us use CCT/Brandt-Andrews here only in the case of partial separation; not as a routine. We figure a little more time waiting for the placenta (if all is well), balances out with less frequent episodes of hemorrhaging and trapped placentas.
Saline in the cord to speed separation is an interesting trick -- I assume the theory is it would work by forcing fluid through the placental villi? I found a number of very old references for saline (or warm water) injections into the cord -- a think glucose is mentioned also.
Would anyone worry about embolism?
Also.... I think speed of delivering the shoulders, may influence third stage -- taking time with the shoulders giving us a better separation and expulsion phase. Comments?
(Or maybe it's another thesis project for someone! -===== Does
time from delivery of head to delivery of body affect the timing
of placental separation? I'll bet it would be easy to set up, if
you could get agreement to expectant third stage management).
Most of my births have EBL of <100 ml. I frequently tell the moms that lots of women have heavier periods! A lot of moms don't even have the amount of blood to fill a couple 4x4s. Some, of course, have a greater blood loss, but > 500 ml is really rare for me. If most of your births have EBL > 500 I would suggest that you look at 3rd stage management.
I freely admit that I am aggressive in getting those placentas out. The studies I have read indicate that aggressive third stage management results in less blood loss, and less incidence of PPH.
For many of you on this list, what I am going to post will sound like anathema to you. However, I read stuff all the time that makes my hair curl...and that is one of the benefits of this list....that we share a variety of practice styles.
Once the baby is born onto mom's belly, I dry, stimulate, get parents hands on (if they haven't helped birth their baby ) and eventually clamp the cord. I then turn my attention to mom and baby. I spent 10 years giving pitocin after the placenta....then I changed to giving pitocin after the baby, but before the placenta. I think this has drastically decreased the blood loss, and studies confirm this. Sometimes I forget to give pit at all.
After the dust settles, I put one hand suprapubically, and one hand on the cord. Every now and then I do Brandt-Andrews maneuver (suprapubic pressure while doing controlled cord traction...if the placenta has separated, the cord will not retract when doing suprapubic pressure directed upward. If the placenta is still attached, the cord will retract.)
If the cord retracts, I wait. If the cord does not retract, and/or there is a gush of blood, I do controlled cord traction while guarding the fundus. I have evulsed a cord two or three times in 1100 births, but they were velamentous or marginal insertions. I rarely have retained placentas, manual removals or PPH. The women do not seem to mind what I do in third stage.
I believe that a separated, but undelivered, placenta which sits
in the uterus collects a lot of blood behind it. Hemorrhage may
occur with no external signs. Maternal vital signs do not change
until mom is hemostatically compromised, and may be normal even in
the face of significant hemorrhage. The uterus cannot clamp down
until the placenta delivers. 500 ml is by definition, a postpartum
I have found that if you take one finger and gently follow the
cord up you will find the placenta sitting right at the cervix
nearly every time you have had a separation gush. And I never pull
on a placenta. There is a difference in gentle cord traction after
My feelings (for what they're worth) about third stage management is that if you've messed around with the physiological processes of labour at all during the first and second stages, then you cant afford not to for the third too.
I work in a fairly interventive hospital setting where women may often use opioid analgesia or have epidurals or ivs or augmentation or be poked and prodded in one way or another... For these women I think an actively managed third stage is probably the safest option.
That here means an IM injection of Syntometrine (mixture of syntocinon (pit.) and ergometrine) with the birth of the anterior shoulder of the babe if you're following the textbook, or following the birth of the babe and cessation of cord pulsation if you're sneaky like me... Then clamping and cutting cord, then awaiting firm contraction of the uterus or signs of separation (whichever you prefer). Then applying 'Controlled Cord Traction' (how Firmly Comforting and Solidly Reassuring those words sound...) whilst 'guarding 'the uterus. And finally massaging the uterus to expel any clots post delivery. Blood loss is generally minimal (although pph's still happen), An interventive end to an interventive labour; not the ideal but my current reality
I am confused by the logic of giving 'pit' post placental delivery. Surely if you have delivered the third stage and the woman's uterus is well contracted, you have passed the most risky time (and if you are still using CCT etc. and fiddling... working against physiology in all ways you are going to provoke the haemorrhage that is going to require the pit. 'cure')??
For non-active management. I have been taught to not clamp and
cut the cord at all, and sit back on my heels and wait: No
pulling. No massaging. No 'fundus fiddling'. HOWEVER... I sadly
admit that i am still waiting to conduct a 'physiological' third
stage... and as I only witnessed one during my training I cant
feel myself really qualified to do so. This is the great flaw of
the 'Bristol Third Stage Trial' (always quoted as gospel here).
The midwives were expected to make a sudden switch to a procedure
with which they were not familiar and inevitably had bad results.
Plus the women allocated to the non interventive group may have
undergone medical, interventive labours and thus already had their
normal physiology compromised...
I'm curious because first of all we rarely see a woman with 500cc
blood loss or less. Is it something in the water here in So. Cal.
or have others noticed this as well?
Well, two things come to mind... First.. silly question.. but blood loss is hard to estimate without double checking a few times and is it possible you are seeing less bleeding than you think? We rarely see a woman over 500cc...
I've conducted blood loss estimation workshops both with real blood both human and cow) -- it's the only good way to learn. Every time we do one, there are a few highly experienced midwives who discover that they consistently over-estimate! (and one in particular was SO relieved! She was able to cut down her pitocin use drastically after she took a workshop[Grin]).
Second...I also think that hurrying the placenta encourages blood loss - -clamping the cord before it's flat (under ten minutes or so), touching the fundus before separation (causing uncoordinated contractions), and trying to extract the placenta before it has been expelled into the lower uterine segment, all play a factor...
I'm not too impressed with herbs either and find that broad handed - even pressured massage will contract a uterus far more quickly than IM pitocin (with both hands and fingers spread wide -- trying to push the uterus into itself -- sort of like gathering up a broad lump of dough into a ball. This is a different massage than many texts show. I wish I could demonstrate; I don't know how clearly it comes across in words).
Most uteri will respond immediately -- well before the pit could have effect. I've drawn it up a few times, but haven't had to use pit in years since I learned this..
Used to give shepherd's purse at every birth.. hardly anyone
bled.. Then stopped giving it and still find hardly anyone bleeds
( ...more than we like to see). I think it's good to discuss this
frequently. We are all looking for new tips and tricks of the
We are doing hands-off cord and fundus til the mother says she's having a contraction. Used to monitor the uterus and we'd tell the mom when she was contracting and to push with it, all the while holding the cord like a leash. Makes for a much more relaxed immediate postpartum to just focus on the baby/mom's comfort and wait patiently for the mom to initiate the birth of the placenta. Seems like the separation/placenta delivery contrx. come spaced depending on the spacing of 2nd stage contrx. Takes longer if q5 than if q2. If I do check for level of the fundus, I do it very lightly, no massage, just to note location, after the mom has had a contrx or two. We still do some cord traction as the mom is pushing, but a lighter touch than in the past. (And no, I've never pulled off a cord, but probably will some day).
Placentas take longer - used to have most out within 10-15 min.,
now it is more like 15-30 min. with some longer. Just did a birth
for a FP doc's wife and I could see he was beginning to wonder
when placenta was still in >30 min., but it spontaneously
birthed at 42 min., no cord traction, minimal blood loss.
I have attended about the same number of births as you, and I have NEVER used pitocin on a woman before, during or after the birth of the placenta. I have on rare occasion used herbs, and I had a package of methergine tablets once, but those are long gone having used most of them on a woman with a late PPH, but I find myself using herbs much less often than I did years ago, and the few times I gave a woman a methergine tablet, the bleeding stopped within minutes of swallowing.....I doubt that the meth worked that fast!
I would classify my "management" of third stage as being semi-active. I do feel comfortable requesting that the mom push a placenta out when I have signs that it has separated, and I will use a traction on the cord while the mom pushes. I have had one cord fall off, and before I handled retained placentas myself (about the last 5 years, I've removed two since....both entrapped placentas) I transferred 4 times for retained placentas (one lady twice!!!) I have never had a PPH, apart from those partially retained placentas, that I wasn't able to get under control. I very seldom have a PPH at all.
I'd like to think that it's because of my superior skills and the
fact that all my clients have perfect lifestyles and diets, but I
know these things are not true! I take smoking mothers, I have
mom's with very poor diets, very young girls, grand-multips,
etc.......many women that would be expected to have poor third
stage outcome. And as for my skills, I'm just a normal midwife who
makes mistakes sometimes and poor judgment on occasion......I
think human would describe me well! :-)
I don't agree with the "quick, get it over with" way that most
midwives treat the third stage. I believe it comes out of
the medical model where there is a mistrust of the birth process
and a woman's body. When a woman has experienced the pain of
dilation and pushing and we know those are healthy, normal
passages--why do we need to save her from pain that accompanies
the birth of the placenta?? So many things that we were
taught would be "helpful" have been proven to be wrong---treating
the umbilical cord comes to mind. It's possible that
"helping" to get the placenta out quickly could be proven to be
harmful. There certainly are reports of cases of uterine prolapse
with gentle cord traction, not to mention pulling off the
umbilical cord. After the fact, the practitioner always
proclaims how gently they were pulling. I find it
interesting that the unassisted birth groups think that I am
horribly aggressive for expecting the placenta to come out in
around 30 mins. They have healthy, normal 3rd stages that can last
for days. Patience and guarding the normal are the
hallmarks of midwifery. The influence of the medical model
must be weighed in everything we do.
I have learned to be more assertive. In the last 3 years, or so, my clients' placentas have delivered quite a bit quicker. Usually in 5-10 minutes. The reason: upon noting the signs that the placenta has released I encourage the mom to push the placenta out. I used to wait until she felt more crampy. I used to wait so I wouldn't interfere with her time w/ her newborn. I used to wait because I didn't want to be aggressive and take control over a natural function and cause a problem. I have learned that encouraging the placenta to come, when it has released, actually helps the things I was trying to accomplish by waiting!
Minutes after the birth the cervix is nice and open and allows the placenta to come easily. The woman is usually glad to get it out/over with. She is happy to have me not sitting and waiting on her placenta. She can concentrate more fully on her baby and on nursing without me asking if she is having a contraction or if she feels like pushing the placenta out. I am glad that I can assess her blood loss and not be at a stopping point when there is clean up and charting to do.
We are taught what the 3 signs are that the placenta has
detached, but then we are sometimes taught that midwives shouldn't
do anything with that info. Just as holding a stubborn rim
of cervix up isn't aggressive when it is warranted, I've learned
that it isn't an aggressive action to help a mother with the last
stage of her birth.
I usually will just slip the cord (with kelly) under the seat.
When the placenta comes the trapped cord will keep it from going
too far... I just lift it out when we're ready to chuck the thing
-- or whatever they're gonna do with it..
I usually will put a chux underneath the toilet seat. It's easier
to examine the placenta and to estimate blood loss. Plus I think
the mom feels like it's a little cleaner. I also will do this if
the mom chooses to deliver sitting on the toilet. This way nobody
is worried that baby or placenta will get dropped in the toilet.
I do remember old-time midwives having moms drink a LARGE glass of water if the placenta was delayed. They insisted it would help bring the afterbirth.
I wondered if it might fight dehydration (and thus make the body work more efficiently) or else to make the bladder full enough to cause uterine cramps.. .but there was a recent research blurb that causing over-hydration (with IV fluids) resulted in stronger contractions and a more rapid birth. The effect looked equal to pitocin! Very interesting if the cattlemen and the researchers might have both stumbled on some simple physiological method to increase uterine contraction power.
If further research upholds the idea, then over-hydrating with
IVs is pretty easy to do (not without risk though). But I can't
imagine over-hydrating with oral liquids would be dangerous -- it
might not even be possible?
I think the key is to get warm fluids into the digestive tract, which causes the intestines to start moving it along, which causes sympathetic contractions in the uterus.
That's why IV hydration doesn't do it . . . it bypasses the
I've been having some really beautiful, peaceful births with moms and dad catching their own babies and sitting back. My assistant and I have especially made a point of being quiet and in the background right as the baby is being born and afterwards.
I've been noticing the grimacing and wincing that occurs, I believe, with placental separation, but I haven't been seeing any spontaneous placenta births. It appears that what happens is the placenta appears to separate (with the tell tale gush), but nearly all my moms are in the tub still at this point, sitting oohing and kissing on their babes. After quite awhile of them looking uncomfortable and "ready to be done with it", my assistant has helped birth the placenta with some cord traction.
Does anyone see regular spontaneous placenta births in the water
after birth? I'd really like third stage to remain
mother-led, as the birth is. I'm just wondering what, if
anything, could be done to help facilitate the birth better.
Is it because the mother is sitting? What about kneeling?
Separation and expulsion are two different processes. The placenta "may" separate from the uterus after only five or ten minutes. From there it spontaneously moves through a series of small contractions to the upper vagina. There's generally no harm allowing the placenta to descend through the natural process. The uterus is strongly contracted and there isn't any additional bleeding (the placenta is in the vagina, or lower uterus; its' harmless there; it isn't holding blood vessels open)
When the placenta descends enough to put pressure on the rectum, the moms will often feel uncomfortable and let you know that "something's happening". Sometimes they will just spontaneously push. Or you can see the cord has come "way down" -- or can see the membranes, or bulge.
Here's a common time table:
We will often see possible signs of detachment within about ten minutes of birth.
But... if we allow a "mother led" third stage, the placenta expulsion stage seems to happen at just about 20 to 30 minutes after birth.
We can make it happen faster sometimes, by changing moms position. And we can certainly often make it happen quickly by just pull the thing out at any time.
But I don't like to intervene unless there's a good reason.
Twenty minutes -- a half hour -- goes by very fast if moms are busy loving their babies. The placenta's often ready to come, just about the time many moms are ready to get a change of clothes -- or want to get out of the tub.
There are NO absolute rules -- and NO routines which apply to all women. But -- in general -- with waterbirths, we generally expect to get mom out of the water when it's getting close to half an hour after birth (things have settled down, and the water is often cooling). "As a general rule", moms first move to a chair beside the tub. We have the placenta chux ready, because shortly after mom stands up to get into the chair, she often feels the placenta sliding down.
When waterbirth first became popularized, there was a thought that the placenta shouldn't be delivered in the water. We were supposed to rush them out before the placenta came. But because i've always done "mother led third stage" it didn't seem to be an issue though. The moms almost always were ready to leave the water before the placentas came. And our clocks almost always showed this was about a half hour after birth (give or take ten minutes).
If you read the older midwifery texts -- and the older OB texts -- they all say to expect the placenta comes at about 20 minutes to half an hour -- "sometimes longer".
They didn't have the newer understanding that placenta's may often separate more quickly than this. But they did have the age-old observation that it usually took about a half hour before the placenta "appeared".
I'm still comfortable viewing the third stage as a two-part process of: 1. separation and 2. expulsion.
And so far, I'm still willing to let the process occur in it's natural time -- while being ready to intervene at any point if needed.
It's an individual decision though ---- one we all need to
work out with our clients.
I will do a Brandt-Andrews to see if the cord pulls up. If it
doesn't, I will do light CCT with mom giving a push. I do not
guard the uterus. In fact other than the suprapubic pressure
during Brandt-Andrews, I don't like to touch the abdomen while the
placenta is still in. Don't know why, but I don't.
When I was interning, one thing I loved was placentas. They wanted them out right away, and my confidence in knowing when it was detached grew tremendously. For the most part, aside from watching for cord lengthening and a separation gush (which seems to be absent a lot with a Schultz placenta) we used Brandt-Andrews to be sure it was detached. Then we kind of stretched out the lower segment of the uterus (like guarding but stronger) and guided the placenta out with the cord. We didn't use a clamp on the cord, just our gloved hand.
One little trick I was taught was that if you have a full bladder, you know how the uterus goes off to one side - well if you do Brandt-Andrews then it acts as though it is not detached. If you take both hands and center the uterus over the pubic bone, you get a "correct" reading.
I really love this, because I have sat through so much anxious waiting, checking to see if the uterus was filling with blood, sometimes the cervix would start to close down and the placenta didn't want to come, and everyone in the room was focused on the placenta, rather than the baby.
When I get them out nice and quick the mood in the room is so much nicer. The two I've had since I was back where the placenta didn't deliver within the first ten minutes, didn't want to let it out - it was detached.
By the way, we were taught to really vigorously massage the uterus there to expel clots etc. After some discussion on the list about how gentle massage works just as well, I've been doing this, and at the last birth I was at (where mother didn't want to let the placenta out) I went to massage gently and wow! Those clots popped right out! Then, not totally trusting that the gentle massage was getting them all, I worked harder at it, and no more came. I was really pleased to see how well those clots popped out with gentle massage.
So, I guess I do active management, but without the pit. I've
seen MUCH less bleeding this way - but the other variable in these
births is no directed pushing in 2nd stage, which we've discussed
In my midwifery training we were taught to never massage a uterus
UNTIL the placenta is out.
I was taught during my training to NEVER massage the uterus, that
it will cause the bleeding that it is suppose to prevent. I must
say, we hardly ever saw a bleed.
I too was taught hands off the uterus before separation to prevent a partial separation.
At the hospital where I interned, the more experienced midwives can massage a partially separated placenta off the wall of the uterus, sort of an external manual removal. What we are taught has a great deal to do with the skill-level of our midwifery community, and our ability to maintain sterility (plenty of midwives are taught never to do an internal).
Who knows what manual skills have been lost, or are known only to
communities of midwives outside our sphere of communication? I
have heard a few amazing manual dilation stories that snatched
birth back from the jaws of c-section, but have yet to find anyone
to teach me.
Windmill technique avoids manual removal of the retained
placenta-A new solution for an old problem.
Hinkson L1, Suermann MA2, Hinkson S3, Henrich W2.
Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2017 Aug;215:6-11. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2017.05.028. Epub 2017 Jun 1.
CONCLUSION:The Windmill technique for the delivery of the
retained placenta is a simple, safe, effective and easy to teach
technique that reduces invasive operative manual removal of the
placenta, postpartum blood loss and delay in the placenta
delivery. This innovative technique can also be a lifesaving
intervention especially in areas with limited or no access to
The new Windmill Technique for successful management of Placenta Retention - YouTube video
A SIMPLE WAY FOR MIDWIVES AND BIRTH ASSISTANTS TO AVOID MANUAL REMOVAL OF PLACENTA AND MAINTAIN MOTHER BABY BONDING.
The Windmill technique avoids manual removal of the retained placenta—A new solution for an old problem
Habek D, Franicevi? D.
Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2007 Nov;99(2):105-9. Epub 2007 Jul 2.
CONCLUSION: The intraumbilical injection of uterotonics is a noninvasive, effective, and clinically safe method of shortening the third stage of labor in women with retained placentas.
[NOTE - This is injected into the umbilical VEIN! which is the
large one, compared to the two arteries. And yes, it's after
I recently learned of a practice using Cytotec for retained
placenta. Is anyone else familiar with this use?
Yes, I have seen Cytotec work beautifully with partially
separated placentas . . . blood was streaming out, so I
administered Cytotec rectally, and the placenta was out and
bleeding stopped very quickly. One of the benefits of
Cytotec with PPH is that it helps keep the uterus very well
clamped in the hours immediately after birth, thereby reducing
additional "normal" blood loss that might be too much for a mom
who's had any kind of PPH.
In our farming community,, when the ladies don't deliver placenta
within a half hour, the men have them drink a good glass of warm
I tried this today on a client, and the placenta came out easily
in about 7 minutes. Her contractions had been every 6 -8
minutes up until the last few contractions and I thought if
she continued to contract that far apart after the birth we
might have to wait a long time for the placenta. Thanks for
the great idea!
I was taught to ask the woman to blow into a closed fist.
This seems to contract the lower abdominal muscles in a way that
may help the placenta come out more readily than standard
Where I trained, the midwife would observe for a rise in the
fundus, and then provide continuous pressure on the fundus, kinda
massaging the placenta out. She would feel the placenta under her
hands and smush the placenta neatly out the vagina into the
student's waiting hands. The times I saw it, that was the end of
it and there was no more bleeding.
When you did this, did you use one hand and just "squeeze" the
uterus? I'm thinking of fingers on the posterior side of the
uterus, and thumb in front. Does that sound right? This must
sound terrible to anyone who hasn't seen it, but it worked slick
as a whistle.
I don't remember anything more than just pushing on the fundus in
a smooth, steady motion, downward.
1. Retained (or delayed) placentas - Angelica tincture (angelica
atropurpurea) Tried all my usual tricks, emptying bladder,
squatting, warm water, draining the cord, finally cord traction
did it. I am a big fan of getting the placenta out right away (for
homebirth midwives that means 10-15 minutes) it reduces postpartum
blood loss, the pp Hgb is higher and moms feel better afterwards.
Sometimes we would give 30u Pit into one of the vessels of the umbilical cord, with good results for separating a stubborn placenta.
I've read a lot about the effectiveness of using angelica for
separating the placenta, and I'm interested in hearing any
Can someone explain why injecting Pit into the cord works? Is it because the vessel carries the pit directly to the mother's blood stream? Does it matter which blood vessel into which it is injected? What if the umbilical cord has stopped pulsating? (which would probably indicate separation, I know.)
We have used Angelica for several years with good results. I have
only ever seen one manual removal, and that was the one I had to
do myself. I think the Angelica was probably working because I was
very nervous, (I was alone - my partner had to run off to the next
birth) and I don't know if I actually separated that placenta
myself, or if the angelica was working by then. Probably a
combination of both. At her next birth she lived in another part
of the state and had a different midwife - one with MUCH more
experience than me (over 3000 births) and I heard that the same
thing happened - had to have a manual removal, with large blood
loss. :( At least I don't feel so guilty, that the first time was
somehow my fault that it happened.
I use a tea made with angelica, black and blue cohosh, ginger,
raspberry, and lots of honey. Every mom gets this unless she
pushes the placenta out before we can get her to drink it. Some
moms love it, others would rather get up and squat to get the
placenta so they don't have to drink it! I've also made a tincture
of this for those fast births with no time to make tea. I do think
that angelica helps but it also just may be the warm tea with
I think the success I've had comes from a powerful belief in the ability of a woman to have a baby, get the placenta out and then stop bleeding.....even if she's exhausted.
I won't deny that on a few occasions I wish I had had pitocin,
but I didn't, so I had to use my mind and my hands to get the PPH
stopped. I have no doubt that had I been trained to use pitocin, I
would feel more comfortable using it.......I've noticed this with
the few midwives in Nevada trained in Texas midwifery schools. And
of course, since it's illegal for me to care any drugs, I have
acquired and used drugs only on the rarest occasions.
There are several kinds of retained placentas. There's the still attached, (no bleeding, uterus is not getting rid of it), type. I think that you can wait for a good long time for these. If you are not in the hospital, that is. (Time limits there.) Some of these will be accreta and need some medical intervention. Most come out. Lots of methods to do this. One of my friends always gave oxygen, some gave pitocin in the cord, some give piton IM, some like to squat the woman. There's featherin'. (Only have heard about this) Tickle the woman under her nose with a feather. Have also heard about other ways to get the woman to sneeze. Breastfeeding is my personal favorite.
The list is long and creative.
There's the placenta that is loose, held in uterus by closed cervix. I had two of these in one night. Rather, I had one and my partner and the back-up had the other after a forceps delivery. We took both to the OR and gave general anesthesia. Geeze, that was weird.
Another is the placenta sitting somewhere in the canal, with some amount of bleeding behind it. Students who are shy with cord traction can sit and watch these for a while, I tend to be aggressive with them. If cord traction seems about to break the cord, I follow it up and grab the placenta.
I have heard a few good OBs, including a MFM, say that an inverted uterus is usually not a result of too aggressive cord traction, it just happens. I want very much to believe this, although I still guard the uterus while I'm pulling on the cord.
Then, there's the placenta that is partially retained with steady
bleeding. Partial accreta or pieces left. This takes some
I have waited 24 hrs for a placenta- mom was stable, no raising of the fundal height, no bleeding, zero bleeding and no the placenta was not just sitting in her vagina. The baby before the one I caught and all the ones after had the same 24 hr delay. Mom's sister had a manual removal in hospital with baby#1 and considerable bleeding. From then on out never went to the hospital again; she also had 24 hr placentas. I know the midwife in attendance of the first birth this woman had and she didn't tell me about this until after the experience-- so what I do know is that there are at least 5 other midwives with the same experience.
I have also done some research, and in Italy they do conservative management of placenta acreta- ultrasounds and abx- I am not sure that this is acreta but for what ever reason that these women have retained placenta, hey are fine and in good health which is our goal-- we found that trimming the cord closer to mom's body kept it out of the toilet and we left it unclamped in case draining would help it release better-- she didn't have after contractions but the fundus was firm.
MY thinking is why are we doing anything if mom is stable? you could add abx but any other way to manually remove puts mom in danger- destabilizes her.
I have had another mom whose placenta was very unusual-- probably 3-4 inches thick with some of the cord imbedded in the body of the placenta looked like a jello mold with a cord in it normal insertion looked like a healthy placenta other wise-- the cord stopped pulsing fairly quickly and just before that I saw what looked like a bit of a separation bleed, which made me a bit more concerned when there was no placenta after the first hr. but there was no continued bleeding; turned out after the placenta was delivered and we looked at it the bleed probably came from the cord - one of the divisions ,that create a cotyledon had 2 sides of the cord partly torn and the only clot on the placenta.
So I have also seen 3 partial separations-- 2 were not my births, in any case , there was only one that was a very brisk bleed. the other 2 were seeping one very slowly and the other was a slow but steady stream- I would chalk this one up to maternal exhaustion- she was up for days with sick kids before labor started- she even felt uncomfortable like maybe she needed to push the placenta out just didn't want to bother; had given her space, food and drink, baby nursing well, contractions; she peed on a chux, herbs, 1 shot of pit 1/2 hr later another shot of pit----- sent everyone out of the room except dad and baby and said your body is like a holding tank for a well, and you know if you keep the faucet on even if it is just a slow steady flow it will eventually empty the tank and before that we are getting you into the hospital- you have lost as much blood as I would expect to see with the delivery of the placenta- can't go any longer, so then she mustered the strength and sat up and could feel the pressure but really didn't want to stay up-- so we ended up holding her up in a squat my hand covering the back of her perineum and anus- thinking that she was probably also afraid that it was going to hurt her butt-- and she got more contractions and birthed the placenta-- she was so worn out that she was exhausted and really didn't want to bother with one more thing, also this was their last baby- they were planning on having no more and it is her 3rd boy not the girl she was hoping for.
In fact, in all the partially retained placentas there was something intense in the emotional aspect. The brisk bleed I was just supposed to be another woman at the birth, 2 other midwives did the birth; I saw the bleeding start and no one was paying attention- mom wasn't having contractions- I said something to one of the midwives to take a look-- and let it go, she said to mom if she felt any pressure no so waiting- but this is too much blood and I say this is at least 2 cups here...... so they get mom up and she passes out.... long story but basically we are in a car driving to the hospital because no ambulance service to this property. midwife at her head and one driving- they wanted me to give advice but I ended up at the wrong end or maybe their intention... anyway I was holding the uterus from the out side and she was still pouring blood- and I was praying for this gal and trying to talk to her, and she kept passing out, when she passed out blood just poured, uterus was firm when she was awake, I started joking with her, trying to take the stress down a notch or 2 and I told her I was going to see if I could get ahold of the edge of the placenta- and some jokes with it and she laughed, but she still went out again and i reached in and scooped the placenta out, her cervix was open as if it were complete and pushing a baby out-- when she was out and closed when she was awake so I grabbed the cervix when she was awake and held it tightly shut and compressed from the top-- and she stopped bleeding, and the uterus made a tight ball and she didn't pass out again wheeled her in to the hospital and she was fine from then on out..... long back story but basically she was on the phone to her boyfriend before they wheeled her completely into the room- telling him how she almost died...now he needed to come to the hospital and be with her-- he was thrown out of the hospital 2x and not allowed to come back... so these are not complete stories by any means I am sure that there are things I forgot to talk about or got something out of order- my always excellent memory is not so excellent anymore-- but I guess the point of telling the partial retained stories was to let you know why I think no big deal for a fully retained placenta.
Then there is the case we just had of "Percreta" that has a real
high chance of recurrence. This patient had a percreta that
involved the bladder "amazing cystoscopy". The diagnosis was made
early and she was delivered by a true classical C/S. the cord was
tied close to the placenta and the placenta was never touched
during the case. blood loss < 500 cc. The uterus is now
involuting quite well at 3 months pp (12 wks size.)
Can anybody elaborate on dealing with possible retained membranes and eventual outcomes? I've a mother that birthed this am and only was able to tease out a portion of the bag. No excessive bleeding has occurred. Fundus remains firm and involving OK for the few PP hours I stayed. I did a sterile exploratory uterine check as best I could, and teased out a fair portion of the bag, but just feel like the rest is still stuck inside. I've advised forcing fluids, using some Echinacea, some vitamin C, temperature checks, and to observe for any tissue passed at potty trips.
Any more suggestions?
I wouldn't treat her any differently than any other PP mom. I wouldn't do the echinacea or vit C or anything since I don't think she is at any higher risk of infection than the "usual" mom.
the membranes will come out without any fuss or bother - -probably wrapped around a clot and making an interesting little clump.
I know folks who would recommend oral methergine tabs for a few days "just to make sure", but I think if mom is upright and moving around and nursing a baby, then she is moving around enough and having strong enough contractions to empty her uterus without any additional help.
I wouldn't sweat it too much. I don't think retained membranes are a big deal.
I agree in part. If you have gotten most of the membranes out, the rest will pass over the next few days. I have had a few ladies where nothing has come and I do believe that with those methergine is in order (I give 6 tablets to be taken every 5 hours, round the clock, until gone).
That being said, I will leave 2 methergine tabs with the instructions to take them if they feel they are bleeding too much, and call me. Sometimes the ladies take one and don't call me :0) and that is fine.
Again..w/o any excessive bleeding, do you advise the Methergine one tab PO every 5 hrs x 6 doses then? (Bear in mind she only passed about a quarter of the sac immediately pp.) What about hefty afterbirth cramps in a woman as it is? I'd take that as a sign that her uterus is crunching down effectively for now....huh? Is Methergine still a good idea? She's only taken one solitary dose of IB for afterbirth cramps over the last 48 hours now. No clots or discernible tissue have been passed. I've warned her to observe for the next week or two as a precaution. Mom remains afebrile and baby's doing just fine as well.
Many times "hefty afterbirth cramps" indicate something left inside. The uterus is having to work extra hard to stay contracted.
sometimes the membranes pass as such tiny shreds -- they roll up on themselves and stick together. Mom might not notice anything particularly unusual.
Yes, I would still give the meth as the situation dictates such. The craziest thing about using meth and afterpains...not unusual for the afterpains to disappear. But, if my lady is known to have severe afterpains I 1)sit her up as soon as placenta is out (I get them comfy with a couch pillow behind all the other pillows plus arm rest pillows) 2)immediately give cal/mag, Afterease and IB.
The old doc used to tell me to give those drugs because, as he pointed out, I am leaving. Anytime I feel I am missing even a piece of membrane I give an injection of .2 mg meth and leave 2 tabs to boot. If it is more than a 'piece' I have them take 6 meth over the next 30 hours beginning from the first 5 hours after the injection. Plus, all my ladies get a tea after delivery. In that tea I will put herbs that are appropriate for the birth. With someone like her I would go heavy on the angelica (I always use a peppermint base to hide the taste of the tincture).
In the old days (before having meds) I would have such a woman
take blue cohosh every 5 hours for 2-3 days pp. I had one
primip whose husband would not allow me to give her
anything. She bled HEAVY 2 wks pp and was rushed to the
hospital where the doc removed a "fistful" of membranes.
Retained membranes can cause late hemorrhage. Even a piece the size of your baby fingernail. It can cause PAIN and it can lead to infection. It can also cause nothing. I am one of the midwives who uses methergine tabs 1 q 6 hrs for a week or until the membranes pass. I have the mom investigate clots to look for the retained piece. In one case a gal had a teeeny piece and it was hurting until I used a speculum and ring forceps to grab this from her os. She immediately felt better. So it can be a real big deal, and requires close attn.
i always have them pee in a strainer that way we don't miss them
when they do come out.
Yeah, but by that first night, all hefty cramps had subsided--esp. after her single dose of IB. Her bleeding is quite small, rubia, and no clots or tissue passed, unless she's not so observant of tiny shreds as Sandra mentioned by trying to catch via a strainer. I personally don't feel that's a good idea for Mom's mindset--trying to "catch" something that might never appear, huh? This is a fifth time mom, BTW. Her uterus might very well be behaving for now, staying low and firm as of yesterday when I did a followup visit, and I'll continue to pray that it remains as such. She's very compliant w/the nothing strenuous, excessive walking, going up/down stairs, etc. Her parents are there helping out as well, and the FOB works out of their home for his company--yea!
What tends to be the main reason for retained membranes? I've only seen this a few times in my experience, once was a succenturiate lobe with excessive vag. bleeding, but the others usually either come out spontaneously, or I've been able to get all of it right there in the immediate pp period by coaxing them. I didn't "pull" on the thinning string of this bag. I coaxed it verrrrrry slowly until the last bit got so thin that it broke. I feel that some portion is still stuck up inside where I cannot reach, because I could finger around inside the womb and feel something in there. I am almost certain something is still left inside. I also couldn't account for all the sac once I laid it out to examine. There were areas not accounted for. BTW--the baby was almost born in the caul. I pricked it once it reached three inches outside the mom's vagina. Baby was born over an intact perineum with a semi-tight nuchal cord around her neck and across her chest and leg and I had mother push her out through the cord because I couldn't slip it off, but didn't feel any need to reduce it. Her Apgars were a fine 9 & 9. The umbilical cord appeared to not have any oddball blood vessels trailing away. The largest portion of sac that I teased out was attached it seemed to the lowest segment of the cord and placenta.
What's with these hateful membranes anyway?
Placental site of attachment is the most likely cause of trouble with membranes.
I find that asking the mom to cough sometimes helps dislodge trailing membranes very nicely.
I keep my hands off unless her body is giving signals that she is in trouble. Nursing that baby frequently is the best tool to use to contract the uterus and encourage expulsion. I have the mom take 1,000 mg. of vitamin C q four hours. Echinacea, 10-20 drops 2 X per day. Nurse. She must stay down, take her temp. 2 X/ day. More frequently if she feels feverish, cold hot flashes. Watch the lochial flow for character, quantity, odor. Nurse. Have her keep anything she expels in a plastic bag in the refrig.. Not on a paper towel, tissue sticks to paper towels. Nurse. Have her squat over a towel before using the bathroom or cover the seat with a towel to catch anything. The membranes may be in a clot. Should be checked. B&B if she is not having firm contx. with, you guessed it, nursing! She needs to be well aware of uterine tone, tenderness and placement. All of this information is put together in handout form and left with mom's who have any retained anything! I also leave meth. just in case. Let her know that when she passes the fragments, they may smell, and she may have some strong cont. to re-dilate that cx. to let them pass.
It's kind of fun to see the wide range we have in our beliefs about - -and treatments for -- retained membranes! All the way from "ignore it unless there are problems" to "have mom use a strainer when she pees".
I wonder if outcomes are any different with the differing approaches?
I'm of the "ignore it" extreme. Have never ever seen a problem
(such as infection, delayed hemorrhage, painful afterpains, etc.
See also: Prenatal
Nutrition/Herbs or Vitamins for Anemia
updated syllabus (.pdf) on postpartum hemorrhage [Powerpoint
Hemorrhage - OB Hemorrhage Protocol Tools from CMQCC - California Maternal
Quality Care Collaborative
My protocols on pph involve: getting placenta out if in, nipple
stim, checking bladder status, acupuncture on Spleen 1, use of
herbs as above , bimanual compression, and use of
antihemorrhagics, usually in that order.
I use shepherd's purse, black and blue cohosh, pitocin and
methergine (IM), and nipple stim (preferably with baby's help). I
have used placenta for pph, too. I am reasonably active about
expressing clots, as well. I haven't really used ice
Hemorrhages need to be controlled quickly and expediently. Pit,
herbs, bi-manual compression, or manual extraction.
Make a lancet (PKU lancet) available along with your pit and
such. If a lady bleeds find the point of intersection if you would
draw a line straight down from her outer toenail on her big
toe(either one will do) and another line straight out from the
bottom(horizontal) of the nail as well. Just a pin point below the
intersect point....poke her....a good steady jab
You are describing an acupuncture point for prevention of
hemorrhage. The correct location is: On the MEDIAL side (away from
other toes) of the great toe, just posterior to the proximal
(toward the head, not toward the end of the toe) corner of the
nail. The point is known as Spleen 1 and is an empirical point for
uterine bleeding. The treatment is to prick the point with a
lancet to extract a drop of blood. If it is going to work, it will
work immediately. The point on the lateral side (inside) is known
as Liver 1. It is located on the lateral side of the dorsum of the
terminal phalanx of the great toe, between the lateral corner of
the nail and the interphalangeal joint. Leah Rizack, a CNM and
Dipl. Acupuncture, taught me that both points may be used. I have
only used Spleen 1, and never found the need to use the other. If
this simple technique does not work, continue with your normal
Ok ladies...don't laugh at my artistic attempt..but E. asked where to poke to stop a bleed.....have a look...X marks the spot...
look down at your left toe
I I I I
I I (nail) I I outer edge of foot
I I______I I
I X I
It involves a technique called bleeding, and it is just what it sounds like. You use a lancet to puncture an acupuncture point called Spleen 1. Its function is to control abnormal uterine bleeding. The method of puncture is slightly different than when getting a finger stuck, you are only after a small drop of blood or interstitial fluid. You don't need a great amount.
Choose either side, although if you're savvy enough with Chinese medicine you can start on the left side (left side rules the blood) for a hemorrhage that is profuse, bright red, or bright red and thick (sx of blood heat), or dark red and clotty (sx of blood stasis) and the right side (right side rules qi) for a pale, profuse watery bleed in an exhausted mother (qi deficiency). in any case, if you can't remember, just do it! It will still work.
The puncture is made in skin, just off the medial corner of the
nail. Locate the point that is just proximal to the medial corner
of the nailbed of the great toe. Imagine a line drawn down the
medial edge of nailbed and a perpendicular one drawn across the
proximal edge. Where these two intersect is the location of the
point: [Just below corner of big toe nail closest to inside ankle
bone.] It takes just a few seconds to do, and works within
moments, if it is going to. It is well worth the time, and hardly
adds any. If it doesn't work, take the next step in your
Homebirth and Postpartum Hemorrhage
Methergine is slower acting than pitocin but lasts much longer in the system - up to 2 hours.
A protocol we use based on the advice of our OB backup is to give one IM injection of Pitocin, if no response then repeat. If still no response or there is still concern give methergine IM. He felt that the receptors for pit would be exhausted after 2 IM injections so it was better to go to methergine next (of course considering the blood pressure was not high - which it usually isn't if we get to this part). We usually begin an IV after 1000 to 1500 cc loss and put an amp of pit in the bag. Women seem to feel better from the extra fluid and their milk comes in better.
I also use various herbs and/or homeopathics before the first
pit. My favorite is erigeron/cinnamom compound from Herb Pharm out
of Williams, Oregon.
I got the method out of old text and it really does seem to work well. (book is out on loan, otherwise I'd type the authors description). The theory is this broadhanded "holding" can be done before delivery of the placenta without increasing the risk of inco-ordinate contractions which could bring the danger of partial separation and more blood loss.
Knock on wood, thank the Lord, light a candle or whatever -- but
I haven't used pit/herbs etc in years. VERY few moms bleed more
than we like to see.
I have only recently had much experience with a birth stool, mostly with the DeBy and I am upset by how much more blood I feel I see immediately after the baby comes out when women are on the stool.
I don't know if it just the upright position and what I am seeing is the last of the amniotic fluid mixed with blood, but women just seem to GUSH right after the baby, until I get them on the bed, and then it slows right down. All that fluid loss makes me (a very new midwife, working out of hospital) very nervous.
However, I love the stool for women who can't/don't want to/are afraid to push, especially first-timers. It is amazing.
What do all you wise women (with many more births under your
belt) find on the blood loss issue of stool vs. bed or other
I think you just see it easier - it comes out quicker, faster, and possibly mixed with amniotic fluid. Haven't ever noticed it really being more measured blood loss on a birth stool.
I also used to think that it was just that we were SEEING more
blood on a birth stool, and it made sense that you wanted the
blood OUT so the uterus could clamp down more efficiently.
However, after a chat with a very experienced midwife and
re-thinking some of the births where I was seeing more bleeding OR
retained placentas on the birth chair, I have formed the following
theory. I think that being on the birth chair somehow keeps
the uterus from relaxing, and if it doesn't relax, it can't
contract again to release the placenta, or to finish releasing it
in the case of a partial separation. My current practice is
to have moms get on the birth stool if it's convenient, e.g. if
she's getting out of a birth tub, and there's no bed nearby, BUT .
. . if the placenta doesn't come in a reasonably amount of time,
OR if I see flowing blood without a placenta coming right behind
it, then I'll move her to a lying down position so the uterus can
relax and the contract again to finish the job.
Thought I would jump in here as this is what I would use as well. My birth kit is still developing so I try to keep the bare necessities in it right now. Among the herbs I carry are Witch Hazel and Blue Cohosh. Whether placenta is still attached or not I would use 1 dropper each Witch Hazel and Blue Cohosh (or less if the mother is very sensitive). This Witchhazel is not the astringent but an herbal extract (or tincture).
After the birth of the placenta I would use a combination called Wombstringe (formerly known as PPH). Is has in it Shepherds Purse, Bayberry Bark, Motherwort, and Witch Hazel. This is made by Wishgarden Herbs.
If the mother is bleeding profusely I would skip the herbs and go
on to the heavy hitters like bi manual and/or pit. I would use the
herbs for a woman who is bleeding heavily and I am concerned. We
have used pit at only one of the births I have attended and it
didn't help (retained placenta). The herbs we rarely use but have
had good results with. Hope this answers your question.
Concerning an herbal patent called Yunnan Pai Yao, aka Yun Nan Bai Yao or other variations.
It is made entirely of one herb, whose pharmaceutical name is Radix Pseudoginseng, pinyin is San Qi, and Latin is Panax notoginseng or Panax pseudoginseng. It is similar in morphology to Panax ginseng- Chinese ginseng, but its properties are entirely different.
Whereas Chinese ginseng tonifies "qi", meaning it increases energy and organ function, Yun Nan Bai Yao stops bleeding. It also has an action of transforming blood stasis.
The causes of bleeding in Chinese medicine are many and varied. Abnormal heat, both vacuous and replete (meaning empty and excess) can cause it. In hemorrhage, this usually results in a heavy, profuse thick bright red flow. Blood stasis can also cause abnormal bleeding. This means that the blood actually blocks the normal channel of flow, and so the blood flows out of the vessels, much like a stream will overflow a log dam. Unless the stasis is resolved, the bleeding will continue. This type of bleeding is usually characterized by darker clotty flow and is accompanied by pain.
Two other types of bleeding are caused by a "qi" vacuity, meaning that the normal energy and organ function is weak. The first of these is a spleen qi vacuity. The spleen is responsible for "holding" the blood within the vessels, This type of hemorrhage is profuse, pale or watery, often the slow trickle type. The woman is typically exhausted and pale. The second type of qi vacuity hemorrhage is one where the qi is "sinking." This is also a malfunction of the spleen, which is supposed to ascend energy in the body and keep things from falling or "sinking." This type will be the same as the spleen qi vacuity hemorrhage, with the addition of prolapse, or a heavy downward falling feeling in the abdomen.
Yun Nan Bai Yao has the unique quality of stopping bleeding and resolving stasis at the same time. Because a stop bleeding herb acts on the emergency symptom, it works regardless of cause, so you don't have to spend much time or brain power figuring out the differentiation.
Yun Nan Bai Yao comes in three forms: a powder, encapsulated powder, and a hard to find alcohol extract. The powders come with a small red pill. The red pill is not Radix Notoginseng, so DON'T make the mistake of thinking that it's a stronger form of the herb. The red pill is made of herbs for loss of consciousness, which are very aromatic, somewhat like smelling salts, only in an oral form. This red pill will scatter the energy greatly, which is something you want if someone needs treatment for loss of consciousness, but not for hemorrhage itself. If the hemorrhage is from a qi vacuity and you give the red pill, you may exacerbate the condition that caused the hemorrhage by scattering already vacuous qi and actually precipitate shock. If you can't remember this, then remember to throw the red pill away. It's better not to use it than to use it incorrectly.
Because the capsules will take time to break down, it is advisable to use the powder for a postpartum bleed. The powder will form a suspension in water, it won't completely dissolve. Place about 1 teaspoon in 1/2 cup water, stir vigorously and have the woman chug the swill. (Those are medical terms :).) You can give up to 1/2 the small vial in this way, but if it doesn't work within just a few minutes, I'd go on to the next thing in my protocol, or combine the stop bleeding treatment with something more to the cause of the hemorrhage.
The capsules are useful for other, less emergency type bleeds such as prolonged postpartum bleeding, and to aid healing around surgery. The dose is 2 capsules 4 times a day. If you know someone is having surgery, have them take two capsules the last time they're allowed anything by mouth and the first thing after the surgery. They can then continue with the dosage above.
The Chinese Medicine approaches to hemorrhage are very specific, and Yun Nan Bai Yao (Yunnan Pai Yao) is one of those herbs that are easy and effective. Other techniques and herbs exist for hemorrhage. If you have an opportunity to attend any of the Midwifery today conferences, I've started doing a presentation on Chinese medicine for midwifery emergencies. If you want more info the two part class on Chinese Medicine is more in depth.
Yunnan Bai Yao, as a blood mover, is contraindicated for bleeding during pregnancy. These bleeds are sometimes caused by the same etiologies as postpartum bleed, but in pregnancy it is vital to be sure of the cause before giving something that might move the blood. So don't make a mistake--differentiate! (And please, don't guess!)
Zand herbals is introducing a new Chinese Classic line of herbal
tinctures, with a new distillation process that make them very
effective. They will be marketing a Hemostatic Formula that
midwives could use for postpartum hemorrhage of any kind that I
believe will be much more effective than Yun Nan Bai Yao. They
typically sell only to people trained to use TCM formulas, so you
may have to procure it through a friendly acupuncturist.
Thanks for some more info on Yannan Pai Yao (though I confess to a complete bafflement about Chinese medicine[Grin]. I will leave it to those of you who are expert in it).
Got a big question though. If you feel this is good medicine for
bleeding, then what do you think of the rapidly growing practice
of using it with no bleeding -- simply prophylactically at every
birth? Do you feel this is indicated?
I think that the leap that if something is good when indicated, it must be just as good when not indicated is almost like using pitocin prophylactically. HERBS ARE DRUGS. They need to be used with full understanding of how they work, and should NEVER be applied in a manner in which they are not intended.
That said, Yunnan Bai Yao is one of the few herbs that can be used to stop bleeding with relatively few side effects. However, since it is also a blood quickener, and that means that energetically it moves the vital substance called blood, in a qi vacuity (meaning a lack of energy), given prophylactically, it could theoretically cause a bleed when there wasn't one. HOWEVER, Yunnan Bai Yao, being a styptic and blood mover, can be used whenever there is trauma, such as an episiotomy or tear, even in qi vacuity, AS LONGER AS THERE IS INDICATION FOR ITS USE. That indication can be surgery, trauma, bruising, and not necessarily a postpartum bleed.
Most likely those who might use it prophylactically won't see any kind of deleterious effects in the relatively small numbers a of private practice. This is because the doses given are still rather small. They are large enough to be effective when indicated, but small enough not to generate unwanted side effects, most of the time. It is also the gentle nature of the particular herb that contributes to it not producing side effects.
Your question presents the opportunity to caution midwives about
the way they use herbs. Those who have a nursing background would
never dream to be doling out drugs the way herbs are sometimes
used. In my mind, herbs are drugs. Most of them have fewer side
effects than pharmaceuticals because the active agents occur in
combination with other substances that may mitigate side effects,
or contribute to soften or counteract the effective action of the
herb. Many herbs we use could be classified as a food, like Red
Raspberry, and as such, have few, if any side effects. But when we
start talking about herbs that have stronger actions, particularly
the whole class of those that effect the blood, either to nourish
it or to stop bleeding, it should be standard that you study and
know the action of each, the dose, the route of administration,
contraindications and side effects just like you would a drug.
What I observe is that someone mentions that this herb is good for
that, and before you know it, it is used for something else
entirely. Intuition is good, but so is logic, and intuition that
springs out of a knowledgeable and logical base is the most
powerful of all.
I would love to know if anyone else on the list has had experiences like this, because there is little written in the texts on this topic, especially vaso-vagal response in relation to cervical distention after birth...
Yes, we've discussed it before. Saw a lot of vaso-vagal when I
worked in radiology as a nurse. The difference is sudden drop in
BP, without lots of blood loss, as opposed to hemorrhage, where
you may see temporary rise in BP, or at least widening pulse
pressures first as compensatory mechanisms, accompanied by rapid
pulse, and usually rapid breathing. With v/v you usually see a low
pulse, the vagal stim is also affecting heart rate to slow down.
It may also be seen a few hours pp if there is a hematoma
building. (saw this on occasion in pp ward. ) Sometimes the two
can go together to some degree, which is confusing, but if you
have hemorrhage, you will likely be massaging the uterus, and thus
usually taking care of the vagal stim. Some women seem to get v/v
reactions just from "normal" second stages though. One person I
know has this with every baby. Anyone with suggestions for next
My understanding, with hypovolemic shock, is that pulse pressures narrow, which goes along with the rapid, thready pulse, before BP drops. Which is why monitoring pulse is more useful than monitoring BP (since a BP drop is a late event in PPH).
Uncorrected, vasovagal syncope can progress to hypovolemic shock (because of hypoperfusion due to the bradycardia), so that secondarily, pulse will rise in response to the hypovolemia. Which is where the confusion can rise.
I guess my question is, however, how distention of the cervix
after birth (by clots or by the placenta) can elicit a vasovagal
response, since the uterus itself is not innervated by the vagus
nerve, but the sacral outflow. Vasovagal syncope is usually talked
about as being elicited by fear or threat or pain...which is why
you'd tend to see it in radiology, or why it can be a problem with
venipuncture. So I am looking for an answer as to why it would be
elicited at this point.
Single tinctures: shepherd's purse - which I love and keep with me; blue cohosh, white oak bark; bethroot; bayberry.
Combination tinctures: Bayberry, White Oak bark & Cayenne; Motherwort, Shepherd's purse & bayberry; Blue Cohosh, Bayberry, yarrow, and Capsicum; Shepherd's purse, Blue Cohosh, Yarrow.
Homeopathics: (from Christian Midwifery, 2nd) Aconite, Apis, Arnica, Arsenicum album, Calcarea Carbonicum, Carbo Vegetabilis, China, Kalicarbonicum, Laurocerasus (I've heard wonder stories about the last one - Laurocerasus), Phosphorus.
Lots of folks here use cayenne as an antihemorrhagic -- T They
give tincture or tea at the first sign of heavy bleeding, and seem
convinced that it's effective. Do others use it?
I like to keep capsicum in my birth kit to use along with other
tinctures to move them quickly into the bloodstream. It really
flushes the system and opens it to all other remedies. Especially
when I want them to act quickly. It doesn't take much so you must
If using capsicum in tincture form, try a vinegar based tincture.
Though it still burns going down, it doesn't have the added
alcohol bite to go along with it. I find it very pleasant tasting
myself (but I like spicy things) and yet you still get the benefit
of a quick route to the bloodstream. With capsules it just takes
I'm wondering if cayenne contracts the blood vessels or the
uterus, or both. If it contracts the uterus, how could it help
migraines??? If it contracts the blood vessels, how could it also
contract the uterus?? Does blood flow have anything to do with
migraines?? This is too complicated, or too magical, for me.
It's not really too complicated, or too magical, or anything like that. Uterus is smooth muscle; blood vessel walls have smooth muscle. They contract and they can be stimulated to contract by either nerve stimulation or by chemical stimulation.
Not sure exactly how and why cayenne works to alter blood flow or
to make the uterus contract, but changes in blood flow to the
brain are thought to be one of the factors involved in migraine.
Contraction or relaxation of the smooth muscle in the blood vessel
walls alters their diameter - and there fore allows less or more
blood to flow through the vessels. In the uterus, it could be
either a direct effect of the cayenne (from the bloodstream)
making the uterus contract or it could be something to do with
changes in blood flow to the muscle. Bit of a puzzle really.
NOTE - As of 2015, Methergine
is being phased out. Some midwives use a protocol of
recommending occasional oral use of misoprostol every few hours
for moms at risk of secondary hemorrhage after discharge.
Protocols vary. Some recommend 200 mcg every 6 hours; some
also leave a packet of 4 for the mom to take if she starts to have
a hemorrhage, with blood running down her legs
Methergine from drugs.com - can cause a rise in blood pressure, so it shouldn't be used with moms who already have high blood pressure;.
of Methylergonovine in Breastfeeding Mothers - Recently the
FDA issued a warning about the accidental administration of
Methergine injection to newborns, and for some reason,
also warned against the use of this product in breastfeeding
mothers, suggesting a waiting period of 12 hours
following its last use. They did not explain if they
have data suggesting reported toxicity in breastfed infants.
To review maternal deaths and the dose-related effects of misoprostol on blood loss and pyrexia in randomized trials of misoprostol use for the prevention or treatment of postpartum haemorrhage.
We searched the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register and Pubmed, without language restrictions, for '(misoprostol AND postpartum) OR (misoprostol AND haemorrhage) OR (misoprostol AND hemorrhage)', and we evaluated reports identified through the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group search strategy. Randomized trials comparing misoprostol with either placebo or another uterotonic to prevent or treat postpartum haemorrhage were checked for eligibility. Data were extracted, tabulated and analysed with Reviewer Manager (RevMan) 4.3 software.
We included 46 trials with more than 40,000 participants in the final analysis. Of 11 deaths reported in 5 trials, 8 occurred in women receiving >or= 600 microg of misoprostol (Peto odds ratio, OR: 2.49; 95% confidence interval, CI: 0.76-8.13). Severe morbidity, defined as the need for major surgery, admission to intensive care, organ failure or body temperature >or= 40 degrees C, was relatively infrequent. In prevention trials, severe morbidity was experienced by 16 of 10,281 women on misoprostol and by 16 of 10,292 women on conventional uterotonics; in treatment trials, it was experienced by 1 of 32 women on misoprostol and by 1 of 32 women on conventional uterotonics. Misoprostol recipients experienced more adverse events than placebo recipients: 8 of 2070 versus 5 of 2032, respectively, in prevention trials, and 5 of 196 versus 2 of 202, respectively, in treatment trials. Meta-analysis of direct and adjusted indirect comparisons of the results of randomized trials showed no evidence that 600 microg are more effective than 400 microg for preventing blood loss > 1000 ml (relative risk, RR: 1.02; 95% CI: 0.71-1.48). Pyrexia was more than twice as common among women who received > 600 microg rather than 400 microg of misoprostol (RR: 2.53; 95% CI: 1.78-3.60).
Further research is needed to more accurately assess the
potential beneficial and harmful effects of misoprostol and to
determine the smallest dose that is effective and safe. In this
review, 400 microg of misoprostol were found to be safer than
> 600 microg and just as effective.
Misoprostol reduces severe postpartum hemorrhage [Full text]
BMJ. 2005 Oct 1;331(7519):723.
Effect of sublingual misoprostol on severe postpartum haemorrhage in a primary health centre in Guinea-Bissau: randomised double blind clinical trial.
Hoj L, Cardoso P, Nielsen BB, Hvidman L, Nielsen J, Aaby P.
CONCLUSION: Sublingual misoprostol reduces the frequency of
severe postpartum haemorrhage.
A Lesser Known
Role for Misoprostol (search within Seven Ways to Control
Postpartum Hemorrhage by Ashley S. Roman, MD, MPH, Andrei
From the Cochrane Collection [from year 2000]
"Although the effectiveness of prostaglandins and their analogs
for arresting postpartum hemorrhage due to uterine atony has not
been demonstrated in controlled trials, their dramatic effect when
all other measures have failed shows that these drugs are
From "Know Your Options for Peripartum Hemorrhage" by Kerri
Wachter in Ob. Gyn. News, October 1, 2005: "Based on the
literature, the evidence is not sufficient at this time to support
routine use of misoprostol for the prevention of PPH. 'The
drug has such a high safety profile that it may be more useful in
a treatment role" said Dr. Mayer. He recommends using 800-1,000
mcg administered rectally.'"
delivery: a randomized trial.
Bhullar A, Carlan SJ, Hamm J, Lamberty N, White L, Richichi K.
Obstet Gynecol. 2004 Dec;104(6):1282-8.
RESULTS: A total of 848 patients were enrolled and 756 randomly assigned, 377 in the misoprostol group and 379 in the placebo group. Demographic, antepartum, and intrapartum characteristics were similar between the groups. The incidence of postpartum hemorrhage, 3% compared with 5%, (relative risk 0.65, 95% confidence interval 0.33-1.29, P = .22), mean estimated blood loss, 322 compared with 329 mL, (P = .45), and mean minutes of the third stage of labor, 6.7 compared with 6.9 (P = .52) were similar between the groups, misoprostol and placebo, respectively. Hemoglobin difference before and after delivery, need for second or third uterotonic agent, and all measured neonatal variables including birth weights, and umbilical cord pH were similar between the groups. CONCLUSION: Buccal misoprostol at cord clamping is no more effective than placebo in reducing postpartum hemorrhage.
Ed: Some critical thinking - The use of Cytotec reduced the
incidence of postpartum hemorrhage by half; I don't know why
this is considered statistically insignificant. It looks to
me like Cytotec is reducing the bleeding. Also, this study
used 200 mcg Cytotec orally, whereas most postpartum hemorrhage
protocols call for up to 600 mcg rectally for fastest
absorption. And this study is about prevention, not
treatment of PPH.
and Treatment of Postpartum Hemorrhage: New Advances for
Suellen Miller, CNM, PhD; Felicia Lester, MPH, MS; Paul Hensleigh, MD, PhD
from Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health
Posted 07/27/2004 on Medscape - registration is free
OK, now here's the study I'm looking for . . . is Cytotec effective at treating postpartum hemorrhage? This study says Yes!
postpartum hemorrhage after home births in Tanzania.
Prata N, Mbaruku G, Campbell M, Potts M, Vahidnia F.
Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2005 Jul;90(1):51-5.
Objectives: Determine safety of household management of
postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) with 1000 mug of rectal misoprostol,
and assess possible reduction in referrals and the need for
additional interventions. Methods: Traditional birth attendants
(TBAs) in Kigoma, Tanzania were trained to recognize PPH (500 ml
of blood loss). Blood loss measurement was standardized by using a
local garment, the "kanga". TBAs in the intervention area gave
1000 mug of misoprostol rectally when PPH occurred. Those in the
non-intervention area referred the women to the nearest facility.
Results: 454 women in the intervention and 395 in the
non-intervention areas were eligible. 111 in the intervention area
and 73 in the non-intervention had PPH. Fewer than 2% of the
PPH women in the intervention area were referred, compared with
19% in the non-intervention. Conclusion: Misoprostol is a
low cost, easy to use technology that can control PPH even without
a medically trained attendant.
A recent study from South Africa compared a combination of
intramuscular syntometrine injection and oxytocin infusion to
rectal misoprostol and found that those who received misoprostol
had a statistically significant reduction in bleeding and further
medical cointerventions to control the bleeding (6% versus 34%)
(RR, 0.18; 95% CI, 0.04-0.67). Sharma and El-Refaey
reviewed the South African study and other descriptive,
observational, and randomized studies of 800 and 1000 mcg of
rectal misoprostol in the treatment of postpartum hemorrhage. They
concluded that the use of rectal misoprostol is a relatively easy,
non-invasive, and potent treatment for postpartum hemorrhage and
recommended that it be added to oxytocin and ergometrine as a
first-line agent in the "therapeutic drill" in the steps taken to
treat postpartum hemorrhage.
I carry Cytotec tablets in my kit strictly in case of PPH and
pray that I never have to use it. My backup doc insisted
that I do so, citing his own experience with using it
rectally for a PP hemorrhage when Pit/Meth/Hemabate failed and the
result was impressive. He has delivered babies for almost 40
years, and I respect his opinion, and carry it.
of third stage of labor? A randomized controlled trial. [Expanded abstract]
Caliskan E, Meydanli MM, Dilbaz B, Aykan B, Sonmezer M, Haberal A.
Am J Obstet Gynecol 2002 Oct;187(4):1038-45
CONCLUSION: Rectal misoprostol is significantly less effective
than oxytocin plus methylergometrine for the prevention of
Well, it looks as if different studies show different results
regarding the relative efficacy of pitocin and Cytotec. It
almost makes you wonder if the different drug companies are
jockeying for the market.
I think the mistake is trying to find the one drug that works
best in all circumstances. My personal experience has been
that Cytotec is superior to pitocin for dealing with any kind of
partial separation - it gets that placenta out quickly and easily,
and then you can focus on any atony issues. I also find
Cytotec to be superior for those low-lying placentas; it does the
work of methergine without creating worries about blood
pressure. PPH problems may be multi-factorial, and in a true
emergency, it makes sense to use all the tools at hand instead of
limiting yourself to just one.
Oxytocin Superior To Misoprostol In Third Stage Labour Lancet [08/30/2001, Lancet 2001; 358: 689-95]
"Oxytocin has been found superior to the hormone derivative misoprostol in reducing maternal blood loss immediately after childbirth.
A double blind randomised controlled trial in Argentina, China, Egypt, Ireland, Nigeria, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, and Vietnam found that "10 IU oxytocin (intravenous or intramuscular) is preferable to 600 g oral misoprostol in the active management of the third stage of labour in hospital settings where active management is the norm."
The trial was directed by Dr José Villar and colleagues at
the UNDP/UNFA/WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research,
Development and Research Training in Human Production, Department
of Reproductive Health and Research, Geneva, Switzerland.
in Some Settings [Medscape registration is free]
of related Medline articles
management of the third stage of labor.
Diab KM, Ramy AR, Yehia MA
J Obstet Gynaecol Res 1999 Oct;25(5):327-32
management of third stage of labor.
Bamigboye AA, Merrell DA, Hofmeyr GJ, Mitchell R
Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 1998 Feb;77(2):178-81
March 4, 1997LONDON -- A drug originally designed to treat ulcers could help stop bleeding after delivery and has the potential to save 250,000 lives a year, a British researcher said on Tuesday.
12.23 p.m. (1723 GMT)
The drug, misoprostol, was designed to counteract stomach damage caused by painkillers. It is also used to induce abortion. Dr. Hazim el Refaey, an obstetrician at University College Hospital London, tested misoprostol pills on 250 women.
They worked just as well in preventing haemorrhage after delivery as did the standard treatment, an injection of the drug syntometrine, he reported in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Syntometrine, given routinely after birth in Europe and North America, can cause nausea and raise blood pressure. But misoprostol has no side-effects and does not have to be injected, Refaey said.
In addition, misoprostol is more stable than syntometrine and can be used more widely in countries with hot climates. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that in countries that lack such a drug, 250,000 women die every year from haemorrhage after birth.
"In this pill we seem to have an easy-to-administer, easy-to-store and safe-to-take precaution against hemorrhage following childbirth," Refaey said in a statement.
"It could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of women around the world every year."
He said WHO was setting up a global trial of misoprostol.
In reference to the question about use of misoprostol in
prevention of postpartum hemorrhage. I personally do not have any
experience with this, however you may want to look at "Use of Oral
misoprostol in the Prevention of Postpartum Haemorrhage" in the
March issue of British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology .
This was a prospective study of 237 woman given 600 ug of
misoprostol orally after delivery and demonstrated the rate of
postpartum hemorrhage to be the same as that seen with oxytocin
and methergine. Perhaps a double blind, randomized trial will be
conducted to truly give us an answer.
1. i have the distinct impression that postpartum bleeding is less after misoprostol. hard to prove. anyone else have same impression? might be valuable to study.
2. while waiting the other night, as usual, for the placenta to
deliver after a preterm birth (seems like they take forever), i
had the bright idea to give her an oral dose of misoprostol. great
effect, little bleeding. have others done this (?routinely instead
cytotec can be used to stop pph also (400 to 800 mcg rectally for
acute or 200 mcg q 4 hours x 6 in lieu of methergine)
Yes, I have experience with cytotec rectally for PPH. You can use 200-800 micrograms into the rectum - it works very well.
I would prefer to be able to give PO but they are such hard
little pills that i just can't see it dissolving fast enough even
rectally to be of use .Perhaps for secondary PPH-
I ma reckoning then that where one cannot use pit (no fridge) the best way for active pph may be to dissolve 4 tabs of 200mcg into some juice (acid) and swallow -trying to speed up the absorption time rather than wait - prefer orally.
How much faster is it rectally than orally and has anyone
any thought on having the medication dissolved before PO by using
some acidic swallow medium?
Rectally is faster than orally and does not have to go through
the digestive system... There is slightly acidic fluid in the
rectum, and the moisture is enough to dissolve.
We use 800.... Just put 4 pills in rectally all at once... onset
of action seems to be within 5-10 min,.... easy, accessible... the
pills are hard, but not enteric coated and will dissolve
easily... I think this is a good tool out in the field, with
little or no IV access.
The most common side effects for a postpartum mother seem to be the possibility of diarrhea in the hours shortly after birth, which actually helps to prevent postpartum constipation, so I don't even consider that a bad thing. And they sometimes run a low-grade fever (around 100 or 101), although they feel completely well; this just requires additional "observation".
Read the FDA label
"Nursing mothers: It is unlikely that Cytotec is excreted in human milk since it is rapidly metabolized throughout the body. However, it is not known if the active metabolite (misoprostol acid) is excreted in human milk. Therefore, Cytotec should not be administered to nursing mothers because the potential excretion of misoprostol acid could cause significant diarrhea in nursing infants." [NOTE - This is never cited as a risk of misoprostol for postpartum hemorrhage. I don't know whether this is because the benefits so massively outweigh the risks or whether it's not an issue because of the meconium. And, again, diarrhea in a newborn would be JUST FINE, as it moves the meconium out faster, thus supplementing the laxative effect of the colostrum. It wouldn't last long enough to cause the colostrum or breastmilk to leave the baby's body any faster.]
Misoprostol is very effective at controlling severe postpartum
hemorrhage, even with a retained placenta. It can control
bleeding while a postpartum mother is transported for even the
scariest placental issues, such as placenta accreta. If you
can get a mom to the hospital without losing more than a couple of
liters of blood, she's much less likely to require a transfusion
or suffer from Sheehan's syndrome. It may save her life!
I understand that the FDA needs to make sure that consumers know that misoprostol is not approved by the FDA for postpartum use. From the manufacturer's point of view, it doesn't make any sense to spend money for the very expensive FDA approval process when this usage represents less than 1% of the drug's clinical use.
But there is no possibility of uterine rupture once the baby is out, and there is no possibility of fetal distress after the birth. And there are numerous studies showing the efficacy of misoprostol for controlling postpartum hemorrhage.
So although it is not FDA approved for controlling postpartum hemorrhage, I have never heard of any side effects other than those listed above.
I speak out about this so frequently because I have clients who are very confused about why I would want to have anything to do with a pharmaceutical that has a reputation for having killed women when used BEFORE THE BIRTH.
Women have a right to know the whole truth about misoprostol, including its amazing ability to control PP hemorrhage, especially in women who have given birth naturally and thus have a demonstrated responsiveness to oxytocics.
The reason I am such a fan of misoprostol is because it works so beautifully. In the ten years since I started carrying misoprostol for emergency control of postpartum hemorrhage, I have not needed to take a client to the hospital for any postpartum bleeding or retained placenta issues.
I think we serve women best by being crystal clear about the distinction between intrapartum and postpartum use of misoprostol.
Re-Emergence of Uterine Packing with Balloon Devices (search
within Seven Ways to Control Postpartum Hemorrhage by Ashley S.
Roman, MD, MPH, Andrei Rebarber, MD)
Hemorrhage - Uterine Balloons Resources from CMQCC - California Maternal Quality
Management of Postpartum Hemorrhage with the SOS Bakri Tamponade Balloon
information about the Bakri Balloon
If you don't happen to have a Bakri Balloon handy, you can try Use of a
Condom to Control Massive Postpartum Hemorrhage
Hemorrhage:Third Stage Emergency -- ALSO.
This recommends misoprostol but not Foley, because the capacity of the Foley just isn't enough to pack the uterus firmly. The new Bakri Balloon solves this problem.
Orthostatic BP's are a way of evaluating volume depletion. You
take the mom's BP lying, sitting, then standing. If her BP goes
down and pulse goes up she's considered to have orthostatic
changes and may need fluid replacement.
If you have a woman with suspected hypovolemia from
bleeding........weak, dizzy , BP lower than you like, but still
there..... try to get some salty broth in her......a bouillon cube
in hot water works well. This will pull volume from the
interstitial and intracellular spaces into her intravascular and
help keep her from passing out. It really works faster than you
would think. We were always using this for the dialysis patients
that we got "too dry".
An old time fix was known as shock remedy - - - A half teaspoon of salt in a pint of water (just put a good pinch of salt in a glass of water).
Another good thing is to add a pinch of salt to a glass of juice.
(similar to rehydration drinks).
I've only seen a huge clot once. This was after a fairly
normal placental separation and placental delivery about 15
minutes after the birth. The mom had a history of PPH, and I
had actually given her 800 mcg of Cytotec orally immediately after
the birth of the baby, without waiting for any more serious signs
of trouble. Then, a few minutes after the delivery of the
placenta, I noticed a sort of trickle bleed, but the blood was
pinker, paler, more serous. This tipped me off that the
clotting factors were staying inside as a clot, and just the
serous blood was flowing out. I immediately did the most
serious uterine compression I've ever done (while guarding the
uterus - pro forma) and expressed a 350 cc clot. I gave her
another 800 mcg of Cytotec orally, and the bleeding eventually
tapered off, without any additional clots larger than a
quarter. I did give her another 200 mcg of Cytotec after the
baby had stopped nursing, about 2 hours after the birth. And
I left a packet of Cytotec with her, just in case. She
didn't have any additional hemorrhaging and very few
afterpains. I was very impressed with how contracted her
uterus was at the 32-hour assessment; it was contracted to 3
fingerbreadths below the umbilicus. We were all very
grateful for Cytotec.
This is outside the scope of midwifery practice, but it's important for everyone to know!
Intact [5/27/10] - Uterine artery embolization for
postpartum hemorrhage appears to have no significant effect on
fertility, French researchers report in an April 8th online paper
in Fertility and Sterility.
How many of us really feel that an abdominal hand "guarding the
uterus" does even one tiny slightest bit of good to protect
against prolapse or inversion? Does it strike anyone as a
meaningless ritual? We are all taught to do it.. but I think it
makes no logical sense.... Someone step out on this limb with me
Here I go, out on the limb again. I always do it. Don't know if
it is meaningless or not, but it surely is harmless, causes no
discomfort to the woman if done properly. I feel that it gives me
a certain assurity that the uterus is staying UP where it
belongs...and not trying to come out with the placenta.
This is exactly why I do it, too. I don't guard the fundus, I support suprapubically and can feel if the uterus moves downward against my hand with gentle cord traction. If it does, I wait a while longer. I don't think I'm preventing the uterus from prolapsing with the guarding hand.
On the contrary, I'm guarding myself against prolapsing the
uterus. I've never had a prolapse or inversion in about 1400
births and plan to keep it that way!
I received some highly raised eyebrows at my last two births when
I did NOT do "fundal guarding" - When my assistant/partner asked
if I wanted HER to do it and I said "no" she couldn't help herself
and quickly reached over and did it! Just couldn't bear to see
that maternal abdomen without a midwives hand on it[Grin] - - I
haven't "done" fundal guarding in many years, but this was the
first time she noticed!
I don't have the book in front of me now, but it seems to me that
Varney's Nurse-Midwifery (or maybe Myles?) stated that her
reasoning for guarding the fundus during third stage was that if
you've got your hand right there the whole time, you can easily
make sure that nobody (hospital personnel) starts massaging the
uterus--thus perhaps causing incoordinate contractions, partial
separation and hemorrhage.
I can't remember reading this before, but I love it!
I almost never do fundal massage on my client's. If the bleeding
is a bit much I will check to see if the uterus feels boggy, but
unless there is a PPH happening I don't do any massaging. It seems
to me that the women who do the most bleeding are those with large
amounts of clots in the uterus, and I find that doing fundal
massage while sweeping the clots out of the uterus with my other
hand firms up even the most relaxed uterus and stops the vast
majority of PPH's in their tracks. The rest of my clients have the
luxury of not having their very sensitive uterus touched by
One practice is related to massaging the uterus in the immediate
postpartum period. After the placenta is delivered, some midwives
massage the fundus prophylactically. They do this to 'expel any
potential clots, which would not allow the uterus to clamp down
properly'. I was originally taught to not massage the
uterus unless indicated (i.e.: boggy uterus). That too much
"fundus fiddling" can cause the uterus to stop clamping
and therefore cause bleeding. Massaging the uterus hard enough to
expel clots seems to be very painful for women. My experience is
that clots are always expelled on their own in time. And I saw
some pretty big ones!
Ooohhh, this is an interesting thread. I read a while back on the
OB/GYN list something about really gentle stroking of the uterus
would give better contraction than more vigorous massage. So the
next csection I helped on I tried it. Just stroked it gently like
rubbing a baby's back, and lo and behold, it contracted right up
hard as a rock! Since then, I have done the same during third
stage of vaginal birth and it works the same way. Of course there
is the occasional uterus that gets a clot that needs more vigorous
pressure, but this is fairly unusual, in my experience.
I check the uterus right after 3rd stage, if not firm, will
gently (if possible) massage into a contraction - otherwise -
leave it alone and teach the mother how to make sure it is
firm/contracted and massage it herself if need be. With women I am
very concerned about (i.e. previous PPH due to uterine atony;
dysfunctional labor; low-lying placenta; or slightly anemic) I am
more likely to massage prophylactically.
I usually give one good massage after placenta to release any
clots (but not always) and then just a gentle check every so often
- came on this gentleness by experience. Of course this is if all
is going as we wish.
I've always felt that that hard kneading that happens after
births was too hard and intrusive. I've always stroked the uterus
lightly and got the same results. I don't think it is necessary to
grind the uterus. Also the mom appreciates the soft touch. I've
had many ask me after the baby is born, "You're not going to grind
your fist in my stomach are you?" I always say not necessary.
Funny, I've been thinking about this bogginess lately and a few other thinks that we do routinely because we were told to and just watching and wondering what will happen if we didn't...I've come to conclusion re: boggy uterus that if there isn't any heavy bleeding, don't worry about it.
Again, I haven't noticed this in practice, although have had the
same explanation given and as I have personally found this
extremely painful, prefer to wait to use it if really indicated,
not just for the measurement, but only if the bleed is actually
there. But even then I don't seem to use that technique, but use
my herbs or homeopathics
I'm lost (again). Are we talking immediately post placenta birth?, or later (say 1 or 2 hours or more down the road)?
I always check the fundus periodically immediately after the birth of the placenta. I do this because if there is a clot stopping up the cervix, then blood continues to fill up in the uterus and increases the fundal height without evidence of "the bleed". I have seen cases where the uterus just seemed to be not contracting well and it slowly fills up and interferes with contractions (at least that's sure what it seemed like). Sometimes, in these situations, there isn't a lot of flow until mom gets up (or until some fundal massage causes a contraction).
OTOH, of course the uterus will not always be super firm. Goodness, the way the uterus works is by contracting AND relaxing.
I totally agree that, in most all cases, the massage can be done
very gently and lightly (in fact, I believe that light touch works
better). I have to say that I am a lot more aggressive in certain
situations (hx of pp hemorrhage), but still don't think I would
fall in the rub-to-the-tailbone category. Now give me a major
hemorrhage...wait, I take that back!!!
I teach the mother to feel her uterus within 15 -20 min. after the placenta. I tell her that this is one of the strongest muscle/organ in her body. That in a non pregnant state she can not feel it and now postpartum she can. It is a special time and she should take advantage of it.
Women all the time tell me thank you for telling them this. That
they never new how strong it was or how quick it would shrink.
This has cut out all of our PP fundal massage except for the rare
hemorrhage where I sometimes have them hold their own uterus down.
I have never found it a necessary routine to massage the uterus. It is so rare a need for me that I really can't think of when I last found it necessary to do so. I probably never have.
On the other hand, I remember my first and only hospital birth where the L&D nurses suddenly without warning, and while discussing their last nights adventures on the town (admittedly, was back in 1974), began to very aggressively massage my uterus. It was extremely painful and was painful enough that I felt I had to grab at them to make "them" stop even though I was a timid 15 year old at the time. It didn't stop them from massaging me nor their conversation, though, the explanation being that that was the way to deliver the placenta.
I have seen a few nurse-midwife do the same "routine" at homebirths, but I rarely feel a need to perform this action. Why would you ladies find a need to do this as a routine, even if gentle? Just a polite inquiry.
Also, perhaps along the same lines, I am lovingly teased around these parts for my "sitting at the hole and waits" tendency and therefore I often experience, among many other things, a "prolonged" third stage. The stats forms that we have to fill in here defines a retained placenta as anything over 30 minutes (!) which makes my stats come up as nearly 98% retained placentas! I have never found them cause for over-concern (other than getting very bored), will only occasionally very gently feel the uterus to check for hidden PPH, but after checking for an hour w/o indication for further concern, don't worry about it any more and just continue to wait.
In fact, last year I was attending this birth of a lady having
twins, waterbirth, 2nd stage, 1st twin = 9 hours, crowning = 1.75
hours, 2nd twin a quicky 50 m, not much crowning, followed by 8
hour 3rd stage totaling 83 labour with intact perineum. No
problems, all really nice, but looong. I was reading the thread on
flexing the head and thought you would be amused (shocked?
disgusted? looking to deregister me? :) -- can't - I'm not
registered!!) at the crowning, etc.
I was attending the Midwifery Today conference a few years back
in Hawaii. One of the workshops was on preventing tears and
somehow the topic of time and 2nd stage came about. The Japanese
midwives became a bit confused whether they were understanding
properly hearing lengths of time = 1hour, 2hours...Their protocols
allow only for 1/2 hour primip, less multip! Of course, everyone
was very surprised to hear this small allowance and tried to
reassure them that esp. for primip, 2 hours was pretty typical. I
leaned over to my fellow Aussie midwife (actually, I'm not really
aussie) and whispered, "do we tell 'em about the times we sit
through 1.5 -1.75 hr crowning?! Or the 9 hour 2nd stages?!" Yes, I
listen to FHTs, yes I check how the mother is doing, etc. They
always have the option to transfer to hospital if they choose, and
it usually comes up in the conversation along the way (inevitably,
there's heaps of time to discuss a lot of things!), but only once
did a woman request a transfer because of time lapse; ended up
being 87 hrs - 80 hours from the first VE I did after I arrived
and found her 7 cm! Labour just sorta died out for sometime, but
being so dilated I couldn't afford to chance the 1hr & 15m
drive home to wait some of it out.
About aggressive fundal massage:
I have been doing homebirths for 20 years and I can not
understand how such a barbaric practice can still be used so
widely. It is very painful and borders on abuse. New moms should
not be subjected to this "routine". There are so many other ways
of effectively working with her in a respectful manner.
We have always checked the uterus for approx. 2 hours pp. If it is boggy then we rub it up, and show the mom how to do it. Also, if the uterus rises several fbs above the umbilicus I will do a more vigorous massage to expel clots. I was always taught that with a clot filled uterus, the mom would have more bleeding and be more prone to hemorrhage when she gets up.
I would be more than happy to discontinue this barbaric procedure
if enough experienced midwives tell me it is unnecessary.
What you are doing in the immediate PP period is not at all
barbaric. I am referring to the fist being shoved into the abdomen
and the whole thing kneaded like a wad of bread dough. If the
uterus is boggy or there is a need to express clots, then uterine
massage works beautifully. My objection is to the kind of brutal
massage I so frequently see where the mom is in more pain than she
was in labor, done routinely, clots or no. My best defense against
boggy uteri and clotting is having the mom do her own massage
after being shown how as well as having her lie on her stomach and
put her fisted hand against the uterus to keep it firm. Since i
have never seen any of the midwives I work with at home need to do
anything further, I must conclude that firm but gentle is more
effective than reaming the poor woman out.
I lightly touch the uterus after the placenta has passed and every half hour or so after I check the bleeding also. If there is a steady flow, Yes, I will rub it up if it is soft and boggy. I think it is barbaric to let a woman lose more blood than she needs to.
Let's face it......if we didn't do anything that is uncomfortable to a mom, we could be in a lot of trouble......should we do away with pap smears because the speculum is uncomfortable? After all, how many of your moms have abnormal ones. How about all vaginal exams? Maybe you don't care what position the head is in and don't care if there is asynclitism or if a mom pushes on an undilated cervix. What about pit or bimanual when there is a hemorrhage? Let's hope we can get them to the hospital so that the docs can be the "barbarians" .Maybe tell a mom not to nurse just 'cause her nipples are sore. Lots of people use bottles.
I'm sorry I'm being so sarcastic, just my mood tonight. Maybe
brought on by holier than thou type remarks. It's not a problem to
put forth your practices, but being judgmental about other's
practice is just as nasty as my sarcasm.
I too second this willingness to discontinue . . ."if"
I think there are ways & "other ways" of doing fundal massage. . . . - and some of those ways certainly do seem barbaric. I contrast what I have experienced done upon myself. My first two births were not with a midwife. And I would classify those experiences with PP fundal massage as barbaric. I have then experienced the hands of midwives two times & while they did their job, & yes "it is not comfortable" - it also was not brutal. And, even with that second midwife-attended birth, I developed a PP Strep B - intrauterine infection & was hospitalized. I clearly remember the nurse in that instance looking for my tailbone through the umbilicus.
Personally, I feel I can do a PP fundal check "gently". You don't
have to just dive in there forcefully - and when you find what
you're looking for, you don't need to apply more pressure just
because you found it - on the other hand, if you do find a boggy
uterus, I have generally found that simply rubbing with "maybe" a
little more pressure works - again, I don't feel you have to rub
the tailbone to do the job.
One of the things I have found that makes a difference with the
comfort of pp fundal massage aside from pressure exerted is the
positioning of one's hand. I have seen many nurses and
practitioners go for the fundus by putting their fingers straight
in towards the woman's back and this is almost always painful. It
works much better to check with the side of your hand (pinky side)
next to the woman and to avoid sudden motions, rather moving in a
slow, fluid manner. If massage must be done, this is much less
uncomfortable, and I finally realized there was a real difference
after having women comment on it when I worked as a nurse at the
Funny, I've been thinking about this bogginess lately and a few
other thinks that we do routinely because we were told to and just
watching and wondering what will happen if we didn't...I've come
to conclusion re: boggy uterus that if there isn't any heavy
bleeding, don't worry about it. I started wondering after my last
2 kids where my ut was often boggy, but no heavy bleed, etc. or
other probs. So now I say the same to moms, to just rub it up if
there is heavy bleeding, put the baby to breast, play with your
nipples, empty bladder...That seems to be working.
Also, if the uterus rises several fbs above the umbilicus I will
do a more vigorous massage to expel clots. I was always taught
that with a clot filled uterus, the mom would have more bleeding
and be more prone to hemorrhage when she gets up.
Again, I haven't noticed this in practice, although have had the
same explanation given and as I have personally found this
extremely painful, prefer to wait to use it if really indicated,
not just for the measurement, but only if the bleed is actually
there. But even then I don't seem to use that technique, but use
my herbs or homeopathics instead. Still haven't had problems as
I am one who definitely feels vigorous massage is not indicated in all PP moms, but one MUST watch that uterus and note it's position. If it clots off at the cervix, the uterus can gradually fill, up to 2 units or more, and when she finally gets symptomatic from blood loss, it is too late to prevent a major bleed. Also, I think it is important to get her up to the BR within the hour, both to empty the bladder, but also to drop out the clots.
On another note: I once had a woman who felt very strongly about
leaving the cord alone, and just waiting for the placenta to come
on its own. Not a lot of bleeding after the separation gush, so I
had her push a few times, no placenta, so I just sat and watched
her play with the baby. After 15 min or so, I felt up at the
fundus, or where I thought it should be, and couldn't really feel
it. Started searching around, and finally found a big mushy mass
just under the right ribs. By this time she was sweating and
looking icky. Pulled out the placenta, which was acting like a
cork, and 2000 cc blood followed. Scary. Other times, the clot has
worked as the cork and same thing happened. So all is well and
good for gentle or no massage if uterus is tight and doing its
job. But to say never massage, or only use the baby to stimulate
contraction can be an error that could be costly.
I agree with you as far as making sure moms are not filling up with blood. What I also find is that clots that remain at the cervix will act as a plug but also can lead to lower uterine segment atony which will lead to more bleeding, so I like to make sure there are no clots.
Sometimes it takes little to no massage and other times it takes more. Sometimes it requires evacuating the clots from the posterior fornix and cervix manually. If active bleeding ensues due to lower uterine atony, I massage the cervix in a circular motion with my examining fingers until it firms up. This works well and would be my next step in controlling the bleeding. If lower uterine atony persists I prefer methergine to pitocin in that it works by creating a tonic contraction rather than clonic and tonic. That steady tonic contraction works well on the lower uterine segment. I also like to be aware of the woman's bladder status before delivery and make sure she has voided. A distended full bladder can lead to heavier bleeding.
I was at a midwifery gathering and heard of a maneuver to control
postpartum hemorrhage, whereby you take your fist and put it up in
side the uterus to the fundus and then massage the fundus using
your abdominal hand. Sort of a bimanual massage. Have you or
anyone heard of this and does it work???
Again, I know the whys and reasons, but as I say, I've been
wondering about it actually occurring and so far have not
seen it so in nearly 600HBs, no oxytocics for 3rd stage, and
checking myself PP for days following as well as immediately PP
and while definitely occasionally having a boggy ut., no heavy
bleeding, some clots, some large, but not a real problem,
just according to the books in terms of existing, not compromising
me. Actually, it is part of a bigger "picture" that I seem to be
trying to learn to work with and that is one of staying out of the
mother's/father's face while they "do their thing", which I think
can be very disruptive and negative on the big scale vs.
monitoring well-being and on what level, what skills (I know what
we are "supposed" to be doing), what's what, etc. Just feeling my