Primary postpartum haemorrhage adversely impacts breastfeeding initiation in Victoria, Australia

Margaret M. Flood, Wendy E. Pollock, Susan J. McDonald, Fiona Cullinane, Mary Ann Davey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Problem: Breastfeeding has many important benefits for both mother and baby but sustained breastfeeding is sub-optimal. Background: Identifying women who need increased support to establish breastfeeding has the potential to improve this. Analysis of the relationship between primary postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) and primary severe PPH and breastfeeding may prove informative as PPH has potentially negative impacts on breastfeeding. Aim: To determine the relationship between PPH and severe PPH and breastfeeding at postnatal discharge and formula use for breastfed babies in hospital. Methods: Population-based retrospective cohort study using the Victorian Perinatal Data Collection for all liveborn singleton births at ≥ 37 weeks’ gestation (n = 339,854) for 2009–13 in Victoria. Estimated blood loss was categorised as PPH ≥ 500 mL and severe PPH ≥ 1500 mL. Descriptive analysis was conducted and multivariable logistic regression was used to determine the adjusted odds ratio for the relationship between PPH/severe PPH and breastfeeding outcomes after adjustment for relevant confounders. Findings: Overall, 94.9% of women initiated breastfeeding. Babies whose mother had a PPH or severe PPH were less likely than others to be exclusively breastfeeding at discharge (aOR 0.88; (95% CI 0.86, 0.90) and aOR 0.57; (95% CI 0.53, 0.61) respectively). Formula – given to 25.9% of all breastfed babies – was more likely for those whose mothers had a PPH or severe PPH (aOR 1.15; (95% CI 1.12, 1.17) and aOR 2.15; (95% CI 2.01, 2.29) respectively. Conclusions: Women have greater challenges establishing exclusive breastfeeding following PPH and severe PPH. Improving support in hospital for women following PPH may increase breastfeeding success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e582-e590
Number of pages9
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • Breastfeeding
  • Maternal health
  • Maternal morbidity
  • Perinatal
  • Postpartum haemorrhage
  • Severe postpartum haemorrhage

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