My biggest pregnancy scare so far was the subchorionic hemorrhage (or subchorionic hematoma) that I dealt with during my first trimester and the significant spotting due to it.
What is Subchorionic Hemorrhage or Subchorionic Bleeding?
Also know as SCH, Subchorionic Hemorrhage/Hematoma is, in layman’s terms, bleeding in the uterus, between the placenta and the uterine lining, and can happen at any time during the pregnancy. Nearly 25% of women experience vaginal bleeding in the first trimester, but only about 1% of pregnancy have a subchorionic bleed. That said, once I told people I had one, I heard story after story of others with the same experience! SCH is the most common sonographic abnormality in the presence of a live embryo.
What are the Symptoms of Subchorionic Hemorrhage or Hematoma?
Most commonly, vaginal bleeding, but cramping can also result. But often, you might have a SCH and have no symptoms or idea! Spotting may be red (new blood) or brown (old blood), and may vary in intensity.
Causes of Subchorionic Hemorrhage?
From my research, there does not seem to be an explicit cause of subchorionic hemorrhage. Thoughts are that it can happen during egg implantation (natural or medical).
Risks of Subchorionic Hemorrhage?
Women with an SCH do have a slightly elevated risk of miscarriage and preterm labor, but percentage increase depends on your pregnancy history, the volume/size of the subchorionic bleed within the uterus, age, and any other risks your doctor may inform you of. I think my risk of miscarriage increased by 2%?
Subchorionic Hemorrhage Treatment?
The majority of subchorionic bleeds resolve on their own. In my research, I saw that staying low and doing as much as possible to decrease stress would also decrease the risk of miscarriage and help the bleed resolve. I was “prescribed” pelvic rest–essentially, no high impact movements, no sex, and just staying quiet.
My Subchorionic Hemorrhage Story
Ok, so I want to take you through my experience. Remember, everyone is different, and even if you have the exact same symptoms as myself, the outcome may be different. If you have any concerns, consult your doctors! They will understand!
We had our first ultrasound Thursday 6/22, and it was at that time that the doctor first noted the subchorionic bleed. He recommended that I stick to my walking rather than going back to running, etc, but that I could start having sex again, etc (I had been abstinent since the transfer on the recommendation of the doctors). That night (sorry, babe) the hubs and I did our thing for the first time in 3 or 4 weeks. (I am telling you this simply because it is important for my state of mind and also might explain the results of the next 48 hours).
The next day (Friday), I had some morning spotting, and I emailed my doctors, who assured me that as long as it was light, it was perfectly normal (and also to be expected after having sex for the first time in a long time. That afternoon, I had some cramping in the lower middle of my abdomen, a sensation that I had maybe once in the preceding weeks. But this was a bit worse–but still not terrible. Like a 3 out of 10 on the Suz pain scale (so maybe a 4 for most people? Remember, I have a totally skewed pain scale). It was tight and aching and just a bit sharp. But after consulting with the doctors, I went to bed feeling ok about the whole thing.
The next morning, I woke up and headed downtown with Alex–who I took to the hospital, where he was working as an attending that weekend–and I went to coaching. Due to scheduling and site issues, it ended up just being the coaches and the endurance manager, and so we were just standing around chatting. All of the sudden, I could feel that I was discharging something. You know the feeling when you unexpectedly get a visit from Aunt Flow? Exactly like that. I knew that it wasn’t just light spotting and it was vaginal discharge. I knew that this was different.
I excused myself as quickly as I could and jumped in my car, where I checked my underwear as inconspicuously as possible. Blood. Bright red blood. And a decent amount of it. I immediately felt my heart and stomach fall, the tears started coming, and I called Alex with an SOS. I told him that I was going to our fertility clinic, which is part of Northwestern, and which I knew would be open and doing ultrasounds because I have been there early Saturday mornings for just that! Alex said he would meet me, and I was sobbing as I hightailed it to the hospital. I was convinced that all was over.
Alex met me at my doctor’s office (thank goodness he was working as an attending that weekend), and we went and talked to the front desk. It was still a little bit before the clinic officially opened to see the morning ultrasounds and labs, so I wasn’t sure if we would have to wait or what would happen. But they said that I would be seen by a fellow (like what Alex is now), rather than one of the of the ultrasound techs. Either way, I would be seen ASAP.
Alex and I went into the bathroom to survey the damage. There was more blood and large clots present in my underwear. I wear a panty liner every day of my life (for multiple reasons), so luckily I dind’t have to worry about my underwear. Honestly, that was a comfort.
We went back in and sat in the corner and held each other’s hand and just tried not to think about what might be going on. About 3-5 minutes later, they took us back, and a minute later, the fellow came in. (Fortunately, she was someone Alex knew!).
First thing out of her mouth was, “I have good news.”
Baby was ok. The hematoma had grown a little bit, and thus the attending doctor recommended that I stay low for the next few days and that we cancel our travel plans. The short version of the rest of the story is that Alex took me back to his office (he was still technically chief resident), and I stayed there while he went to do rounds with the team (which they had delayed while he and I went to deal with our situation).
I experienced a little bit more spotting that day (just a few drops) and the next, and a little bit of brown spotting that Monday, but then nothing else. I had no more cramping, either. That Saturday morning seems to have been the climax of the situation. I went for a walk with Alex and the dog Sunday, and increased my walking over the next few days back to my normal amount.
The emotions of what we experienced are another story, for another day, but I wanted to share with you the physical aspect of my pregnancy scare!Subschorionic hemorrhage: what it is + Suz's experience with this #pregnancy scare Click To Tweet
I hope that this helps explain a bit more about my pregnancy scare and what subchorionic hemorrhage aka hematoma is. Please remember that I am NOT an expert, and just because my scare resolved, if you are having any anxiety or your own pregnancy scare, talk to your doctor!
Have you dealt with pregnancy spotting or subchorionic hemorrhage?