One of the risks associated with childbirth is too much blood loss, most often experienced as postpartum hemorrhage.
This excess blood loss following birth can happen in any setting; hospital, home, or birthing center.
“2.9% of the women who give birth in the U.S. will bleed too much.”, according to The AWHONN Postpartum Hemorrhage Project. It is important to note that this statistic does not account for known risk factors in the mother or birth interventions used.
While risk factors alone cannot predict every woman who will or will not bleed too much following birth, Stanford Children’s Health has found that some women are at greater risk for postpartum hemorrhage than others.
The main conditions that increase their risk include:
- Placenta Previa (a condition where the placenta lies low in the uterus and partially or completely covers the cervix)
- Uterine Atony (occurs when the uterus fails to contract after the delivery of the baby)
Risk factors via The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for Uterine Atony include:
Hydramnios (excess amniotic fluid)
Multiple Gestation (a pregnancy with more than one baby)
Use of pitocin (a synthetic hormone used to start or speed labor)
High Parity (high number of times a female has been pregnant)
Intra-amniotic Infection (bacterial inflammation of membranes)
Use of uterine-relaxing agents
Prolonged Labor (often a result of a disturbed birth)
- Overdistended uterus (when the uterus is larger than normal because of too much amniotic fluid or a large baby)
- Multiple gestation (pregnant with more than one baby)
- Gestational Hypertention or Preeclamsia (prenatal blood pressure issues)
- Prolonged labor
- Being of Asian or hispanic ethnic background
- Use of forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery
If a mother is bleeding too much (with a postpartum hemorrhage for instance), she will need a hemostatic agent to speed up the clotting of blood and stop its flow to save her life.
Often medications such as Pitocin and or Cytotec are used to cause the uterus to contract. This contracting can minimize or stop blood loss.
While these medications can be life saving, there is a promising preventive option for excess blood loss.
Plant based medicine has been used for most of human history and now with the process of distillation, the properties found in plant liquids are bottled in concentrated form for use.
Cypress essential oil (cupressus sempervirens) which comes from the twigs, stems, and leaves of the cypress tree, can be used to minimize postpartum blood loss.
Cypress essential oil is both a hemostatic and a styptic agent.
These two properties are similar in meaning, but they differ slightly.
Hemostatic means an agent that can stop blood flow and promote its clotting.
Styptic primarily means having the properties of an astringent, while also preventing excessive loss of blood through contraction of the blood vessels.
Both of these properties are very important in their own areas of application. Both can be life-saving.
One way to use cypress essential oil is immediately following birth, prior to birthing the placenta, via a postpartum leg massage. A doula, midwife, or partner can help with this.
Lindsey Meehleis, a California based homebirth midwife, regularly uses cypress essential oil in her practice which has lessened her need to use medications for blood loss significantly. She uses about 20-30 drops of cypress essential oil mixed with a carrier oil (such as olive oil) and massages for 15-50 minutes depending on the client.
See podcast under SOURCES below to hear more about her use of cypress essential oil.
Chat to your provider prenatally about this option for prevention of excess blood loss following birth!
Cypress essential oil information via Kiran Patil (Chemical Engineer and founder of organicfacts.net)
Cypress essential oil podcast with Lindsey Meehleis, CPM