Assessment of Postpartum Blood Loss and Use of a Treatment Bundle for Postpartum Haemorrhage

Publication Date: December 21, 2023
Last Updated: December 21, 2023

Summary of Recommendations

For all women giving birth, routine objective measurement of postpartum blood loss is recommended to improve the detection and prompt treatment of postpartum haemorrhage. Methods to objectively quantify blood loss, such as calibrated drapes for women having vaginal birth, can achieve this.

A standardized and timely approach to the management of postpartum haemorrhage (PPH), comprising an objective assessment of blood loss and use of a treatment bundle supported by an implementation strategy, is recommended for all women having a vaginal birth. The care bundle for the first-line treatment of PPH should include rapid institution of uterine massage, administration of an oxytocic agent and tranexamic acid, intravenous fluids, examination of the genital tract and escalation of care.

Assessment of postpartum blood loss

  • Visual estimation of postpartum blood loss is frequently inaccurate, meaning that PPH often goes unrecognized or is identified when it is too late to provide a life-saving intervention. Objective methods of quantifying blood loss, which are superior to visual estimation, are more likely to detect PPH. For women who have had a vaginal birth, most of the available evidence on postpartum blood loss measurement comes from the use of a calibrated drape.
  • Blood loss measurement is particularly critical in the first few hours after birth. Women should also be regularly monitored for early warning signs of excessive blood loss (e.g. tachycardia or hypotension).
  • To be effective, measurement of postpartum blood loss must be linked with a standardized treatment approach or protocol, and vice versa. Detecting PPH, in the absence of prompt initiation of treatment, is unlikely to improve a woman’s health outcomes.
  • The available studies have been conducted in women giving birth vaginally. However, the measurement of blood loss in women undergoing a caesarean section is also clinically important.
  • The process for postpartum blood loss measurement should ensure that a woman’s customary or cultural requirements, including choice of birth position, are respected and maintained.
  • Birth-related bleeding risks and the signs and symptoms of excessive blood loss should be discussed with women across the birth continuum (including antenatally) to foster shared decision-making.
  • There should be consideration and investments made into the development and use of sustainable and climate-friendly drapes.

Care bundle for the treatment of postpartum haemorrhage

  • All interventions included within the PPH treatment bundle are individually recommended in WHO’s existing 2012 and 2017 PPH guidelines.
  • In the context of this recommendation, the GDG emphasizes the need for a consistent use and interpretation of the term “bundle” as a clinical care bundle for the treatment of PPH. This should not be misconstrued with the use of this term in other contexts.
  • To ensure the maximal success of the PPH treatment bundle, early detection of PPH is a key and indissociable component of the first-response intervention. The available evidence on postpartum blood loss measurement is largely from trials that used calibrated drapes for women who had a vaginal birth.
  • Clinical judgement is important to guide PPH treatment decision-making. In a large trial, the treatment care bundle was initiated when measured blood loss was 500 ml or greater, or when measured blood loss was 300 ml or greater with early warning signs of excessive blood loss.
  • The trial underlying this recommendation included multiple implementation and health system strengthening strategies, which helped to achieve high coverage in the consistent use of the treatment bundle. These included ensuring availability of required human resources, strengthened by dedicated research staff, regular health-care facility-level audit and feedback, designated facility champions to oversee change, restocking of PPH trolleys or carry cases so that all necessary medicines and equipment were readily available in one place, and training for health workers.
  • The PPH treatment bundle requires standardized and timely use of all included interventions. All bundle treatment interventions should ideally be initiated within the first 15 minutes after a diagnosis of PPH. However, health system readiness (e.g. availability of staff, equipment) varies across different settings. In the event that not all bundle interventions are available, available components should be initiated in a timely and standardized manner.
  • In cases of refractory postpartum bleeding – where a woman has received all interventions within the PPH treatment bundle yet continues to bleed – prompt escalation to a higher-level healthcare facility or a senior clinical provider capable of providing further management is critical. WHO has made recommendations on the treatment of refractory PPH.
  • The GDG acknowledges that the evidence supporting the treatment bundle is largely from trials on vaginal births, and does not have any clear evidence to refute that the findings would be different for a caesarean section. The individual PPH treatment interventions included in the PPH treatment bundle are also recommended by WHO for women undergoing a caesarean section (see the 2012 WHO recommendations for the prevention and treatment of postpartum haemorrhage). However, the group acknowledged that additional research is required to confidently recommend bundle care for caesarean section births.
  • National, regional, subregional and district-level health systems must be strengthened so that sufficient resources are available, ensuring the sustainability of treatment bundle implementation. Adequate numbers of staff and availability of commodities are essential to achieve the benefits of treatment bundles.
  • The supporting evidence has largely been generated from studies conducted in secondary-level health-care facilities. However, prompt recognition and treatment of PPH for women who give birth in primary care settings, in the community or at home are equally relevant. Appropriate resources and health worker training integrated with setting-specific implementation strategies are necessary to facilitate this.
  • Engagement with women and their communities is paramount to promote women’s human rights and agency in their health, and foster their participation in shared decision-making around PPH treatment.

Recommendation Grading


  • PPH: Postpartum Hemorrhage


The information in this patient summary should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.



Assessment of Postpartum Blood Loss and Use of a Treatment Bundle for Postpartum Haemorrhage

Authoring Organization

Publication Month/Year

December 21, 2023

Last Updated Month/Year

February 15, 2024

Supplemental Implementation Tools

Document Type


Country of Publication


Document Objectives

In 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) convened a Guideline Development Group to update an existing recommendation on assessing postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) and consider using a care bundle to treat PPH. This decision was based on new evidence on the subject that had become available. This document issues an updated recommendation on the assessment of PPH and a new recommendation on the use of a treatment bundle for the management of PPH.

Target Patient Population

Women who are pregnant, in labour, or in the postpartum period

Target Provider Population

HCPs caring for women during pregnancy, labour, childbirth and postpartum periods, in any health-care setting and those responsible for developing national and local health-care protocols and policies

Inclusion Criteria

Female, Adolescent, Adult

Health Care Settings

Ambulatory, Hospital, Outpatient, Operating and recovery room

Intended Users

Nurse, nurse midwife, nurse practitioner, physician, physician assistant


Diagnosis, Treatment, Management

Diseases/Conditions (MeSH)

D006473 - Postpartum Hemorrhage


postpartum hemorrhage, postpartum blood loss

Source Citation

WHO recommendations on the assessment of postpartum blood loss and treatment bundles for postpartum haemorrhage. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2023. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO

Supplemental Methodology Resources

Evidence Tables