When I was planning an unassisted birth, my biggest concern was the possibility of post-partum haemorrhage. I knew my mother had experienced a very serious one with my youngest brother and it was something I wanted to be fully informed about and prepared for.
As it happens, late in my pregnancy I discovered that my mother’s haemorrhage was caused by a partially ruptured placenta in her third trimester, followed by a midwife pulling on the cord in a misguided attempt to assist its delivery after my brother was born.
This reassured me somewhat, as it had been an unfortunate sequence of events rather than a sudden natural occurrence, but I was still relieved to have discovered for myself the best ways to avoid a PPH.
This is what I found:
After the baby is born, keep close skin to skin contact.
Breastfeed as soon as possible after baby is born.
In case of complications, keep the mother calm and reassured.
Ensure the mother is kept very warm – look out for shivering and shaking. Move her to a warm spot with a thick quilt if needed.
NEVER pull on the cord.
Never manipulate the uterus in order to prompt placenta delivery.
Be patient – it can take on average anywhere from ten minutes to an hour for the placenta to deliver naturally, although for some women it can take much longer.
If a retained placenta is suspected, seek experienced medical assistance – call an ambulance/midwife, and do not try to pull it out.
For many naturally birthing mothers, these things all come instinctively without any need to be told.
Skin to skin and breastfeeding are natural impulses, both of which stimulate oxytocin, strengthen contractions and help to ensure an efficient release of the placenta.
I chose to have the herbal tincture Shepard’s purse on hand in case of emergency, an age old proven remedy which can be used to manage heavy periods and post-partum haemorrhage. In a hospital you would be given an injection of artificial oxytocin to stop the bleeding. By keeping your natural levels high by having a calm, warm and undisturbed natural birth you are reducing the chances of experiencing a PPH in the first place.
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