Background
Haemorrhage in pregnancy may be life‐threatening to woman and infant. The impact of severe obstetric haemorrhage can be reduced by detecting high‐risk women, implementing guidelines and treatment plans, early detection of hypovolaemia and timely appropriate treatment.

Aims
To describe cases of severe maternal morbidity caused by obstetric haemorrhage in New Zealand and investigate the potential preventability of these cases.

Materials and Methods
A multidisciplinary expert review panel was established to review cases of obstetric haemorrhage admitted to intensive care or high‐dependency units over an 18‐month span in New Zealand. Cases were critically analysed by a multidisciplinary team of clinicians to determine the potential preventability.

Results
One hundred and twenty cases were identified, most commonly due to postpartum haemorrhage with 36% (n = 43) deemed potentially preventable, mainly due to delay or failure of diagnosis (65%, 28/43) and/or failure or delay in treatment (91%, 39/43). Twenty‐three per cent of cases (28/120) resulted in peripartum hysterectomy of which one‐third were deemed potentially preventable.

Conclusions
Prompt recognition and treatment in accordance with evidence‐based guidelines is imperative to decrease the burden of morbidity from obstetric haemorrhage. An emphasis on training clinicians to identify haemorrhage in a timely way may avoid unnecessary obstetric emergencies and can improve maternity and neonatal outcomes.