22.1  Starting intravenous (IV) fluid therapy

22.1.2  When to start IV fluid therapy

A woman is lying on a mat haemorrhaging. Blood covers the mat.

A pregnant woman who is haemorrhaging will rapidly develop a state of shock; unless you take action quickly she will soon become unconscious and die.

  • What are the signs of shock? (You learned this in Study Session 20.)

  • The woman will look pale, especially inside her lower eyelids and the palms of her hands; her diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) is below 60mmHg – sometimes much lower; and her pulse is high, often more than 100 beats per minute.

In order to save her life, you need to know how to start intravenous (IV) fluid therapy (also known as IV fluid resuscitation or IV infusion). This means getting special fluids into her blood circulation through a hollow needle called a cannula inserted into a vein, to replace the fluid part of the blood she is losing. You should do this before you urgently refer her to a hospital or health centre, where they will give her a blood transfusion. Women in labour, or soon after delivery of the baby, may also haemorrhage (as you will learn in the Labour and Delivery Care Module). You should start IV therapy quickly whenever you detect that a woman is haemorrhaging.

Learning Outcomes for Study Session 22

22.1.2  Setting up the IV fluid therapy equipment