Hesperian Health Guides

How to Give Fluids to Treat Shock

If a woman loses a lot of blood—for example, during childbirth, after a complicated miscarriage or abortion, or if she is badly burned—she may go into shock.

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When this happens a woman needs fluids fast in order to save her life. If she is awake and can drink fluids, let her do so. Also, if you know how, you can start an intravenous drip (IV). In an emergency, an enema can be used instead. But enemas should be used for emergencies only. Using too many enemas can be harmful.

How to make rehydration drink

Rehydration drink will also help treat and prevent dehydration, especially in cases of severe watery diarrhea.

How to give rectal fluids

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You will need:

  • a clean enema bag, or a can or tin with tubing.
  • a cloth to place under the person.
  • 600 ml (a little more than ½ a liter bottle) of warm (not hot) drinking water. If you have them, sugar and salt rehydration drink or a bag of IV solution can be used instead.

What to do:

a woman lying on her side while a tube is inserted into her anus

Make sure her body is higher than her head.
  1. Tell the woman what you are doing and why.
  2. Wash your hands.
  3. Ask her to lie on her left side if she can. If possible, her body should be a little higher than her head.
  4. If you have them, put on clean gloves.
  5. Let the water come down to the end of the tube to get the air out. Then pinch the tubing to stop the flow.
  6. Wet the end of the tube with water, and slide it into the anus. Ask her to take slow, deep breaths to help her relax.

  7. arrows showing 10 centimeters or 4 inches on a ruler

    Do not put the tube in more than this much.

  8. Hold the bag or can just high enough for the water to run in very slowly (about the level of the woman’s hips). It should take about 20 minutes. If the water runs out of her body, the bag may be too high. Lower the bag so the water runs in more slowly.
  9. Gently remove the tube. Tell her to try and keep the water inside, and that the urge to pass stool will go away soon. If the woman is unconscious, you can hold her buttocks together.
  10. Clean and dry the woman. Then remove your gloves and wash your hands.
  11. Transport the woman for medical help right away. If the woman is still in shock, you can give another enema one hour later. If she is not in shock, try to give sips of rehydration drink as you transport her.

This page was updated:23 Oct 2019