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Signs of uterine rupture

Signs of uterine rupture


The following is a list of signs that may be evident when the uterus ruptures. One, some, or all can be present. It will generally depend on the severity of the rupture, when it occurs, and why it has occurred.

Some possible signs are:

Fetal distress.

This is the most common sign of uterine rupture (about 80% of the time). The baby's heart rate drops abnormally low, and does not recover back to the normal rate.

Abnormal vaginal bleeding.

This may, or may not, be present as often the majority of bleeding occurs within the woman's abdomen.

The woman goes into physical shock.

The woman has a rapid pulse, and a low blood pressure, and is showing signs of shock due to haemorrhage, such as feeling faint, passing out, looking pale and sweaty.

Constant, severe abdominal pain, with her belly being tender to touch.

The pain is usually quite severe. Minor tenderness of the scar can be an unreliable sign, as many women feel pain in this area during their labour because their cervix is dilating. This can cause unnecessary concern, when all is actually normal. 'Scar tenderness' over the scar from a previous Caesarean birth, is quite common for women in labour planning a vaginal birth after a previous Caesarean. It can be a misleading observation.

The contractions stop abruptly.

If the uterus ruptures it will stop contracting, if the woman is in labour.

Heavy bleeding after the birth despite a contracted uterus.

Bleeding after the birth is controlled by the uterus contracting down firmly. The caregiver usually feels the woman's belly after the birth, to confirm this. If the bleeding remains heavy (despite the uterus being contracted), it could mean a ruptured uterus.


Last revised: Tuesday, 11 December 2012

This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.

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