Primary postpartum hemorrhage is a leading cause of maternal mortality and morbidity internationally. Research comparing physiological (expectant) and active management of the third stage of labor favors active management, although studies to date have focused on childbirth within hospital settings, and the skill levels of birth attendants in facilitating physiological third stage of labor have been questioned. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of place of birth on the risk of postpartum hemorrhage and the effect of mode of management of the third stage of labor on severe postpartum hemorrhage.
Data for 16,210 low-risk women giving birth in 2006 and 2007 were extracted from the New Zealand College of Midwives research database. Modes of third stage management and volume of blood lost were compared with results adjusted for age, parity, ethnicity, smoking, length of labor, mode of birth, episiotomy, perineal trauma, and newborn birthweight greater than 4,000 g.
In total, 1.32 percent of this low-risk cohort experienced an estimated blood loss greater than 1,000 mL. Place of birth was not found to be associated with risk of blood loss greater than 1,000 mL. More women experienced blood loss greater than 1,000 mL in the active management of labor group for all planned birth places. In this low-risk cohort, those women receiving active management of third stage of labor had a twofold risk (RR: 2.12, 95% CI: 1.39–3.22) of losing more than 1,000 mL blood compared with those expelling their placenta physiologically.
Planned place of birth does not influence the risk of blood loss greater than 1,000 mL. In this low-risk group active management of labor was associated with a twofold increase in blood loss greater than 1,000 mL compared with physiological management. (BIRTH 39:2 June 2012)