Internal Bleeding After C-section: A Consequence of Malpractice?

Some blood loss after a Cesarean section is normal. Severe internal bleeding after C-section is not. This dangerous condition occurs in 1 to 5 in 100 women who give birth (March of Dimes). 

What causes a woman to lose so much blood after a C-section? Could it be a doctor’s fault? Stay with us to find out. 

Patient experiences internal bleeding after C-section.

Causes of Internal Bleeding After C-section 

Birth is a wonderful experience. But it can turn dangerous in an instant when a woman begins to lose a lot of blood.

Significant blood loss after labor or a C-section is also called postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). It can lead to a sudden drop in blood pressure. This may send a patient into a state of shock (when the organs don’t receive enough blood to function). Because shock can lead to death in a matter of minutes, physicians must act fast to stop the bleeding. 

Common causes of internal bleeding after C-section:

  • Doctors fail to make the incision large enough for the baby to fit through. As they pull the baby out, the incision tears and bleeds. 
  • The surgeon cuts a nearby organ by accident. 
  • Uterine atony occurs. This is when the uterine muscle doesn’t constrict the extra blood vessels it developed during pregnancy. 
  • Uterine rupture – In rare cases, the uterus can rupture during a C-section. This can be a life-threatening condition.
  • Infection occurs at the incision site or in the uterus. 
  • Doctors fail to remove all of the placenta. 
  • Damage to blood vessels in the uterus or the surrounding tissues.
  • Incomplete stitching of blood vessels after damage takes place. 

These conditions can put you at higher risk for internal bleeding after a C-section:

  • Very long labor before getting a C-section.
  • Someone in your family had PPH. 
  • Preeclampsia, high blood pressure, or obesity. 
  • A large baby or multiple babies.
  • Gestational diabetes.
  • You have excess (polyhydramnios).
  • If you had a C-section previously.
  • Placenta previa. (When the placenta covers the cervix, partially or completely.)
  • Placenta accreta. (When the placenta attaches to the uterine wall, but much deeper than usual.)

Important: If you had a C-section and your baby ended up with Hypertonia and cerebral palsy, kernicterus (jaundice), or Erb’s palsy, talk with an attorney. Set up a free medical malpractice consultation immediately, because you may have a case.

When Should I Be Worried About Bleeding After a C-section?

It’s common to have some bleeding after giving birth, whether it was vaginal or a C-section. And this bleeding can last around six weeks. But how do you know when it’s too much? Two things (plus the list below). Pay attention to the blood quantity and blood clot size.

If you’re going through a sanitary pad every hour for 2+ hours, that may be a real problem. If you’re passing blood clots larger than a plum, that could also point to a more serious issue like internal bleeding. If you have these symptoms, especially if accompanied by any of the warning signs below, get medical help immediately.

Signs of Internal Bleeding After C-section

The main symptoms of internal bleeding after C-section are a low pulse and blood pressure, increased heart rate, and vaginal pain and swelling. Other symptoms associated with potential internal bleeding include:

  • Heavy and sudden vaginal bleeding
  • Shallow breathing, gasping, or shortness of breath
  • Unexplained stomach bruises
  • Feeling lightheaded or faint
  • Clammy hands or feet
  • Passing abnormally large blood clots (larger than a plum)
  • Urinating less or not at all
  • Abdominal swelling or bloating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Confusion and disorientation

To catch postpartum hemorrhage fast, doctors must be vigilant and watch for those signs. As soon as any of these signs appear, they might confirm it with:

  • A physical exam.
  • Blood tests to check red blood cell count and potential clotting.
  • Continuous vital signs monitoring.
  • X-rays and other tests to look for ruptured or damaged blood vessels and organs.
  • A review of the patient’s medical history.

And the next step is equally critical – treatment.

Treatment of PPH After C-Section

The exact treatment depends on the severity of the bleeding and what’s causing it. Medications. IV drips, and sterile materials may be enough to stop it. Other times, doctors might perform manual uterine massage to help the uterine muscles contract. 

If a tear or cut is the culprit of internal bleeding after a C-section, a surgeon must repair it right away. A blood vessel or artery issue calls for uterine artery embolization or tying off blood vessels.  If the bleeding is inside the uterus, they might place an intrauterine balloon to slow it. 

In more severe cases, the patient may need a blood transfusion. If blood loss is so great it could lead to death, a hysterectomy might be necessary. 

When Can Internal Bleeding After C-Section Happen?

Usually, PPH occurs within 24 hours of the C-section, if it occurs at all. But in rare cases, women discover they have internal bleeding weeks after surgery. 

If you leave the hospital but experience these signs of internal bleeding after a c-section while recovering at home, call your doctor (or 911 if it’s an emergency):

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding that won’t stop
  • Big clumps of blood
  • Weakness, feeling unstable, or loss of consciousness
  • Blurry vision, chills, feeling faint, fast heartbeat (signs of low blood pressure/shock)
  • Pain and swelling in the vaginal area 
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unfamiliar stomach discomfort that keeps increasing
  • Your heart starts beating too quickly or your pulse races
Woman experiences pain from C-section complications.

Can Medical Malpractice Cause Vaginal Bleeding After C-Section?

Yes. There are three main circumstances in which that could happen.

  1. Your doctor doesn’t identify your risk for internal bleeding or doesn’t diagnose it correctly. 
  2. Delayed response (and treatment) when PPH occurs. 
  3. A doctor’s mistake caused the bleeding. For example, they used forceps or vacuums incorrectly. Or perhaps they made an erroneous cut and damaged a nearby organ. 

Did a doctor’s error cause excessive bleeding? A thorough examination of your medical records will reveal the truth.

If heavy bleeding harmed your health, you could recover damages to pay for your medical bills. Courts have awarded compensation for pain, suffering, lost income, and loss of companionship, among other things.

 In some cases, internal bleeding after a C-section takes a patient’s life. In that case, family members may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit. 

When filing a malpractice claim, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. We represent patients and families in birth injury claims on a contingency fee basis. This means we receive compensation only if you do. Contact us for a free consultation to find out if you have a case.