I will never forget the day I found myself looking down my pants, there was blood everywhere, I was 10 weeks pregnant and I was sure I had lost my baby. I’ve never heard of subchorionic hemorrhage (SCH) and I didn’t know it was possible to bleed a lot and still be pregnant. Ever since that day I’ve learned a lot about these hemorrhages and want to share it with you, because if you’ve found this post you are probably going through what I did and have lots of questions.
The best person to answer all of your questions will always be your doctor because each case is different and there are many factors that come into play when it comes to SCH’s but make sure you are going to a doctor that has had patients that have gone through this before.
Subchorionic hemorrhage is something very common in pregnancy however it has not been studied enough and to this day no one knows what causes it, there are several theories out there but that’s all they are, theories. The most important thing to know is that it’s not your fault. This seems to randomly happen to different women, under different circumstances and scenarios and there’s not much you can do to avoid it.
A SCH will be diagnosed after you get an ultrasound, a trained tech will be able to recognize a “pool of blood” in your uterus (see picture below of my SCH). Your baby will have a heartbeat and most likely everything else will look normal. Sometimes women discover about their SCH during a routine scan and sometimes, like me, they discover it when they find themselves bleeding. The bleeding will vary from women to women, it can be spotting, it can be a lot and you can even pass big blood cloths. When you have a SCH you should expect to bleed but if you’re filing up more than one pad an hour or having strong cramps it is best to see your doctor inmediately.
The good news is that your chances of miscarrying due to a SCH are low and you are most likely to carry your baby full term without any complications. However, like everything, there are exemptions and things might get complicated. This is why it’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations. Although I’ve come to find out the recommendations you should follow vary amongst doctors. A good rule is that if you’re bleeding red, you should be on bedrest – this means pelvic rest, no heavy lifting, no walking more than around the house, no standing on your feet too long, no exercise, basically you’re supposed to be in bed or a couch all day. I was also nursing before the bleeding episode and continued to do so with no complications. When I was diagnosed with the SCH I was put on strict bedrest and monitored biweekly, alternating between my midwife and a high risk doctor.
After my first bleeding episode I bled for 5 more days, it was still constant and bright red. My bleeding suddenly stopped and I didn’t bleed for 2 weeks. Then I started bleeding again but it was all sorts of browns, not bright red anymore. My high risk doctor informed me that it was probably my body getting rid of the SCH. Mine was close to my cervix and he expected me to bleed some of it out. He said as long as the blood was brownish and not bright red I had nothing to worry about. I was still on bedrest but allowed to walk a bit more, as long as I took it easy. The brown bleeding lasted for 4 weeks. Yes, I bled every single day for 4 weeks. It was emotionally heartbreaking and I constantly worried about my baby. I knew there was nothing I could do but it was hard. A week after I stopped bleeding I had an ultrasound and to my surprise my SCH had disappeared. I was so happy and was told I could slowly start moving around more and work my way up to going back to my regular life. Although the heavy lifting and no high impact exercise is a restriction that will remain until the end of my pregnancy.
Today, as I’m writing this post, I’m 32 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby girl. I am so grateful to have made it this far and hoping to make it full term. I am no longer considered high risk but having had a SCH puts you at a slightly higher risk for preterm labor so I’m being closely monitored by my midwife. I am back to living a normal life and I’ve been pretty active – after all I have a 2 year old I chase around all day. Right now I feel like a normal pregnant woman and I’m finally super excited about meeting this baby. My fear of losing her is gone.
The most helpful thing during this time was having support and understanding from other women that were going through the same thing. I found a Facebook group dedicated to this type of pregnancy condition and it was a life saver. I learned a lot about SCHs and found support in my darkest hours. If you’re dealing with this issue, I urge you to join this group, you will need the extra encouragement and support.
Update: I had a beautiful and healthy baby girl, read my birth story here.