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Primary postpartum haemorrhage, a form of obstetric haemorrhage, is excessive bleeding from the genital tract after childbirth, occurring within 24 hours of birth.

A blood loss of 500mls is the usual minimum amount for identification of postpartum haemorrhage however a woman’s haemodynamic instability is also taken into account, meaning that a smaller blood loss may be significant in a severely compromised woman. A loss of 1,000mls or more is considered major or severe although definitions of severity vary.

Secondary postpartum haemorrhage is excessive bleeding from the genital tract after childbirth occurring between 24 hours and 6 weeks postpartum.


Medforth J, Battersby S & Evans M 2011. Oxford Handbook of Midwifery. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Queensland Maternity and Neonatal Clinical Guidelines Program 2009. Queensland maternity and neonatal clinical guideline: primary postpartum haemorrhage.

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) 2011. Management of postpartum haemorrhage (PPH): College statement C-Obs 43

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) 2009. Prevention and management of postpartum haemorrhage: Green-top guideline no. 52.
This content Based on Australian Institute of Health and Welfare material. Attribution provided as required under the AIHW CC-BY licence.

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