#42 Intrauterine Tamponade

You are probably familiar with many of the complications which can arise after the birth of your baby. You could have infections, breastfeeding problems, baby blues, and sleep deprivation. However, one complication after delivery is excessive bleeding, postpartum hemorrhaging.

In most cases, your uterus will begin shrinking back to its normal size and your hormone levels, which help the process, kick in and bleeding after the birth of your baby slows and eventually stops. If the bleeding doesn’t begin to subside, you will have a postpartum hemorrhage.

There are two types of postpartum hemorrhaging: primary postpartum and secondary or late postpartum. Primary postpartum hemorrhaing is severe bleeding within the first 24 hours after childbirth. On the other hand, secondary or late postpartum hemorrhage occurs after your first 24 hours and can occur up to 12 weeks postpartum.

There are a number of reasons postpartum hemorrhage can occur. Perhaps part of the placenta is still attached to your uterine wall. Regardless of how you choose to deliver your baby, a total blood loss of more than 32 fluid ounces is considered a postpartum hemorrhage.

Your healthcare provider will treat postpartum hemorrhage as an emergency. Finding the source of the bleeding and immediately stopping it is critical to your recovery from childbirth.

The followiing treatments are commonly used:

  • Fundal massage or uterine massage,
  • Using an intrauterine tamponade or a balloon,
  • Tying off blood vessels,
  • Removing placental tissue that could have still been in your uterus,
  • Repairing tears on your reproductive organs,
  • Medication that can stimulate contractions, and
  • A laparotomy or hysterectomy.

In a previous blog, I discussed fundal massages, the procedure, and its benefits. In this blog, I’ll go in-depth with intrauterine tamponade and why this balloon can help save your life.

An intrauterine tamponade is a non-surgical method of treating postpartum hemorrhage. It’s a balloon in a catheter that can stop or slow bleeding from an atonic, soft, or floppy uterus. Often, it is used as a temporary measure that is usually followed by surgery.

The only caveat is that there are three situations where it might not work as successfully as other treatments do: (1) C-section bleeding, (2) uterine rupture, and (3) pre-eclampsia.

The uterine tamponade procedure involves the insertion of a silicon or rubber balloon that can be filled with saline. It is placed in the uterine cavity where its volume can slow down or stop your bleeding. It presses against your uterine arteries which are usually bleeding once your placenta is removed.

Your healthcare provider will conduct a thorough examination before deciding to insert the balloon. Once bleeding has stopped, you will be continuously monitored for signs of vaginal bleeding. The balloon will be gradually deflated over a 24-hour period.

Intrauterine tamponade is one of the most common ways to slow or stop postpartum hemorrhaging. Please see my podcast on intrauterine tamponade for more information.