Bleeding during pregnancy is always scary. No matter how much or how often or when it occurs. When I was just shy of 14 weeks, I had my first experience with a Subchorionic Hemorrhage (SCH).
I woke up around 4:15 a.m. one morning and thought I was peeing in my sleep. I jumped up and quickly ran to the bathroom only to find that my underwear was full of blood. Having suffered a miscarriage before I broke into tears.
I cleaned myself up and woke my husband. I told him I was losing the baby. We sat and contemplated what we should do. At this point, it was a little after 4:30 a.m. My doctor’s office didn’t open until 8 a.m. Should I wait or should we go to the ER? I was bleeding a lot and a friend I reached out to persuaded my husband and me to head to the ER.
The hospital ER was thankfully pretty empty and they got me checked in and in a bed quickly. They took some blood, did all my vitals and performed a pelvic exam. A few hours passed and I was still actively bleeding and unsure about what was happening or how our baby was doing.
Then came the moment I’d been waiting for, my ultrasound. My husband couldn’t go with me, unfortunately, and I was a nervous wreck, but as soon as the tech started she let me know she could see the baby moving. A few moments later she let me hear the heartbeat.
I was finally able to take a deep breath for the first time since I woke up. She brought in another tech and they both confirmed I’d need a transvaginal ultrasound because there was a clot or something they needed to get photos of. I didn’t care what they needed to do. I was just happy that for now, our baby was OK.
After my ultrasound, I was able to get dressed and wait for the results. The bleeding had mostly stopped at this point but after being in the ER for five hours I still had no answers. They finally discharged me so I could go to my OB’s office, but the ER doctor told me he thought I had a Subchorionic Hemorrhage (SCH). I had no idea what that was at the time, but he assured me my OB would go over everything with me and talk to me about the next steps.
I am in no way a doctor, so this is my VERY basic understanding of what an SCH is. Basically, it’s when blood collects between the uterus and placenta. My OB told me to think of it kind of like a bruise under your skin. Most of the time your body will absorb the blood clot itself and heal (like a bruise does), but sometimes with an SCH the blood escapes through your cervix and causes the type of bleeding that I had. In rare cases an SCH can cause the placenta and uterine wall to separate, this is known as a placental abruption, which can be very dangerous.
I felt a lot better after visiting my OB. The bleeding had mostly stopped but I was told that spotting could continue for weeks. I went on a light activity restriction and just took it easy.
After a few days, I was feeling a lot better. So imagine my surprise when less than two weeks later I woke up at 1 a.m. with the same bleeding again. Only this time, worse.
Luckily I knew what it was and what to do. I called my OB’s on-call line and they assured me the best thing I could do was put up my feet and rest until I could get to the office in the morning. Another ultrasound revealed that our baby boy was perfectly fine, but that my SCH was at it again.
I honestly don’t know if it was the same hemorrhage or a new one. The advice was the same though. Rest. No heavy lifting. No exercise. No sex. Nothing until my 18 week anatomy scan. These things unfortunately just have to heal on their own and there’s not much else that can be done. Luckily they tend to only be present in the first and beginning of the second trimesters.
I am grateful the baby and I have remained healthy despite the hemorrhages. But in all honesty, this has worn on me both physically and emotionally. The physical stuff I can handle, for the most part. It’s the emotional burden that really weighs me down.
I get so nervous before bed, afraid I’ll wake up in the middle of the night bleeding again. Terrified that something is wrong with the baby, constantly. Not being able to physically do the things I want (and sometimes need) to do. Running to the bathroom nonstop to check how much I’m bleeding.
In the grand scheme of things, I recognize how lucky we are. Yes, an SCH can increase your risk of miscarriage, but we’ve been fortunate enough not to have to cross that bridge. If you’re struggling with bleeding during your pregnancy, don’t feel alone. It’s scary for sure, but not as rare as we think and it doesn’t always mean the worst. Try to find other moms who understand your struggle and get support.