What Are MIIPs? / Bleeding After Childbirth


What is postpartum hemorrhage?

Postpartum hemorrhage is excessive bleeding after giving birth. It usually happens right after delivery but can also happen in the days after giving birth.



What causes postpartum hemorrhage?

There are many causes of postpartum hemorrhage. The most common cause is weak muscles of the uterus, or womb. Normally the muscles of the uterus tighten up, or contract, right after giving birth. This helps squeeze the blood vessels in the uterus to stop them from bleeding. Sometimes the uterus muscles do not contract enough. This can allow the blood vessels in the uterus to bleed.



Why is postpartum hemorrhage dangerous?

If you lose a lot of blood after giving birth, your blood pressure will go down. If left untreated, this can lead to shock and even be life-threatening.



How do doctors stop the bleeding in postpartum hemorrhage?

Below are the treatments to stop the bleeding in postpartum hemorrhage. They are listed in order of least invasive to most invasive:

  • Your doctor can massage the uterus to help it contract.
  • Your doctor can give you a medicine to stimulate your uterus to contract.
  • Your doctor can pack the uterus with sponges to help stop the bleeding.
  • A specialized doctor called an Interventional Radiologist (IR) can stop the bleeding from the inside by plugging up the bleeding blood vessels.
  • Your doctor can do surgery to find the bleeding blood vessels and tie them off. 
  • Your doctor can do surgery to remove the uterus, called a hysterectomy.



What is a UAE?

A uterine artery embolization, or UAE, is a minimally invasive, image-guided procedure (MIIP) to stop postpartum hemorrhage. A UAE is when an IR blocks off the bleeding blood vessels in the uterus by plugging them up with small particles.



How is a UAE done?

The UAE is done in a special procedure room equipped with real time X-rays. You will lie down on your back on a special bed. The skin of your groin will be cleaned and prepared. You will get medicine in your vein to make you sleepy and comfortable, but you will breathe on your own.

The IR doctor will put a plastic tube the size of spaghetti into a blood vessel in your groin. They will then watch with low dose X-rays while they guide the little tube into the blood vessel that

goes to the uterus. They can see the blood vessels by injecting contrast dye inside them and taking low dose x-ray pictures. They can then inject special particles into the bleeding arteries to plug them up and stop the bleeding.



Is the procedure safe?

UAE is safe. The main risk is bleeding at the artery in your groin. There is a small risk of premature menopause.

UAE may allow you to avoid surgery. It may also help you avoid a hysterectomy.



For more information about postpartum hemorrhage and UAE:



For more information about postpartum hemorrhage:

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