I recently, during a laundry mission, walked into this scene. Lyanna Stark was laying in bed, draped in a red, blood-soaked blanket. She was pale and lethargic. I, not knowing what was happening, immediately KNEW what was happening. She had just had a baby and was in the process of hemorrhaging to death.
125,000 people in the US are affected every year by postpartum hemorrhage, which is another term for bleeding too much during the delivery of a baby. Every person is having a baby is expected to lose some blood. Our bodies actually make more blood during the course of the pregnancy to compensate for this loss. At the time of delivery, the placenta should detach and the uterus should contract to limit blood loss. Sometimes this doesn’t happen as effectively as it should.
There are risk factors that a person can possess that can make excessive blood loss more likely. Having a very long labor OR having a very short labor are risk factors. Having an intrauterine infection, a larger than average-sized baby or multiple previous deliveries are also risk factors. And of course, some people hemorrhage without ANY clear reason.
Hemorrhage can happen fast and be life-threatening
It sound scary (at it is) but knowing these facts and stats are very important. Especially in the conversation of having a baby at home or in a facility that is not equiped to handle emergencies. Also when some ladies are planning for a hospital birth but request to not have an IV in place.
I understand why some don’t want an IV. They are often concerned that the IV will restrict their movement or make them more prone to have labor interventions like Pitocin. At my hospital, a woman in labor can still walk and move around even with her IV in place. Also, I only start Pitocin when it is medically indicated, not simply because an IV is in place.
Then there is this argument:
“Can’t you just place the IV only if you need it?”
I have to remind you that in the moment of a hemorrhage, blood volume is rapidly dropping, making veins for IV placement MUCH harder to find. Blood vessels constrict and collapse as we lose blood. If the IV is already in place, giving a rapid infusion of IV fluids and in some cases blood products, can happen quickly. This rapid response could save your life.
Its like wearing a seatbelt in a car
The time to put it on is when everything is fine, not in the middle of a car accident. If Lyanna Stark had an IV at a healthcare facility with resources and proper protocols, she likely would have survived the birth of her son, who was later revealed to be Jon Stark (I told you there would be spoilers.)
While her tragic death made for interesting Game of Thrones character development, my kids and your future children will need to create for themselves a less morbid origin story.
Take Home Message:
Deliver your baby in a healthcare facility that is equipped to handle emergencies and accept the IV. There are no do-overs, no take-backs. Hemorrhage is real and you should do everything in your power to prepare for it so you AND your baby get through labor and delivery safely.