Postpartum haemorrhage: prevention and treatment

Expert Rev Hematol. 2016 Nov;9(11):1043-1061. doi: 10.1080/17474086.2016.1245135. Epub 2016 Oct 20.


Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is one of the leading causes of maternal death and severe maternal morbidity worldwide and strategies to prevent and treat PPH vary among international authorities. Areas covered: This review seeks to provide a global overview of PPH (incidence, causes, risk factors), prevention (active management of the third stage of labor and prohemostatic agents), treatment (first, second and third-line measures to control PPH), by also underlining recommendations elaborated by international authorities and using algorithms. Expert commentary: When available, oxytocin is considered the drug of first choice for both prevention and treatment of PPH, while peripartum hysterectomy remains the ultimate life-saving procedure if pharmacological and resuscitation measures fail. Nevertheless, the level of evidence for preventing and treating PPH is globally low. The emergency nature of PPH makes randomized controlled trials (RCT) logistically difficult. Population-based observational studies should be encouraged as they can usefully strengthen the evidence base, particularly for components of PPH treatment that are difficult or impossible to assess through RCT.

Keywords: Postpartum hemorrhage; active management of third stage of labor; guidelines; hysterectomy; oxytocin; prevention; sulprostone; tranexamic acid; transfusion; treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Disease Management
  • Ergot Alkaloids / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Oxytocin / administration & dosage
  • Oxytocin / therapeutic use
  • Postpartum Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Postpartum Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Postpartum Hemorrhage / prevention & control*
  • Postpartum Hemorrhage / therapy*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors


  • Ergot Alkaloids
  • Oxytocin