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Dealing with a subchorionic hematoma (also called a subchorionic hemorrhage) in pregnancy can be a terrifying experience for any expecting mama. A subchorionic hematoma is a sac of blood that collects between the uterus and the placenta and is usually marked by vaginal bleeding, usually in the first trimester.
I’ve had a subchorionic hematoma with both of my pregnancies and it is indeed very scary. If you found this post because you are currently dealing with one, rest assured, I know how you are feeling right now. You are probably scared. Scared to move the wrong way, do the wrong thing, and no matter how many doctors or midwives tell you that you probably won’t do anything to change the outcome, you are just plain scared. As if being newly pregnant isn’t enough of an emotional roller coaster, this crap has to come out of nowhere and follow you around.
This is my story of dealing with a subchorionic hematoma in each of my pregnancies and my advice for getting through this time.
My First Pregnancy
I was 7 weeks pregnant with my daughter, not having any problems or cramping whatsoever when the my hematoma decided to make itself known. I went to the bathroom not feeling any different from any other day and when I wiped, there was blood. It wasn’t much, like a light period day but of course when you are pregnant, it’s been ingrained that any blood is bad blood. I now know that this isn’t necessarily true.
I called my husband in and showed him the blood and immediately collapsed into his arms. I feared the worst.
At this point in my pregnancy, I was still being seen by an OB. So I immediately called them and told them I was bleeding and didn’t know what to do. It was the end of their work day so they made me an appointment for the next day. For the rest of the night, I was in and out of the bathroom wiping to see how much blood there was or wasn’t. I nearly rubbed myself raw. My bleeding eased as the night went on but I still had no idea what was going on with my baby and my body.
The emotions I was dealing with were so overwhelming. Google was not my friend and my appointment couldn’t come soon enough. Not knowing is the worst part.
The next morning we got to the doctor’s office and the doctor was super sweet and basically said “let’s not keep you waiting anymore, let’s see what’s going on”. She did an internal ultrasound and as soon as my little bean showed on the monitor, I saw the heartbeat flicker. I lost it and just started bawling. We were able to see and hear her little heartbeat and it brought so much relief.
The doctor found the source of the bleeding and that is when I was introduced to the term hematoma for the first time. Mine was fairly small but I was still put on activity rest, no working out or sex, until we were seen again in two weeks.
The next two weeks weren’t too bad. I had seen my little bean, she looked really strong, and I was no longer bleeding. I was still scared of doing too much but each day got a little easier. I just took it easy, didn’t exercise or have relations. Just work and rest.
When we went back to the doctor’s office two weeks later, they did another ultrasound and my little bean was still growing strong. To our relief, the hematoma was reabsorbed and I was able to resume normal activity. My pregnancy progressed without any issues.
My Second Pregnancy
My hematoma experience with my current pregnancy was much more traumatic than with my first. I was 11 weeks along and a hematoma wasn’t even on my radar. I was almost in my second trimester and starting to feel better after the bouts of nausea and exhaustion. We were able to get pregnant quickly, I was in the final stretch of finishing my Masters degree and everything seemed to be in our favor.
That all changed when I was sitting in my 7pm class one night, trying to mentally prepare myself for a presentation I was set to give that night. I again felt totally fine. Then I sneezed.
I felt something shoot out of my vagina. It was a very weird sensation and I remember thinking to myself that did not feel right. I got up and went to the bathroom. As soon as I pulled my pants down I started dripping blood onto the floor and saw two nickel sized clots in my underwear. I started to panic. Blood was quickly dripping out of me. I called my husband and was yelling “I’m bleeding, I’m bleeding! Like a lot! I have to go to the ER. I can’t believe this, I’m losing our baby” Thinking about those moments still gives me chills.
I hurried back to my classroom and grabbed my stuff, interrupted my teacher, told her I needed to talk to her in the hallway, and informed her on the situation. For some reason, I felt the need to apologize for not being able to present that night. I turned and ran down the hallway and started running to my car. I was just thinking to myself; of course I’m like .5 mile from my car, of course Mike is at home an hour away, HOW can this be happening to me. I called my best friend and told her what was happening and she tried to reassure me but I was SURE that I was losing the baby. I could feel the blood soaking my pants.
I finally got to my car and peeled out of the parking garage while calling my husband. I asked Mike to find me the nearest ER which was thankfully only about a mile away. I got there as fast as I could and got signed in. I felt so alone and all I wanted was to be in my husband’s arms and for my baby to be ok. The sign in nurse asked me to take a seat and they would be with me as soon as they could. I asked her if there was somewhere else I could wait because my pants were literally soaked with blood. I didn’t want to sit down for the fear of seeing how much blood came off my pants.
This seemed to alert the nurse and they brought me right back. The next nurse came over and told me that they can check me out but they don’t have an ultrasound to check on the baby. My heart sank. I asked what I was supposed to do; I just felt so lost. I was crying, shaking, holding my little baby bump, and squeezing, in an effort to stop the bleeding. The nurse told me I needed to go to the larger hospital about 15 minutes away. I told her I needed to leave and she asked if I was ok to drive. I said yes, I just need to leave.
I got back in the car and called my husband to tell him what was going on and where I was going. Then I called my midwife and tell her what was happening. My midwife, Lori, told me she had gone through a similar situation before and tried to calm me down.
I finally arrived at the ER and went to sign in, still a mess and starting to freak out again. I started hyperventilating and my initial vital signs were all over the place. The nurse again asked me to take a seat and they would be with me soon. I again asked if there was somewhere else I could wait. She took me back to a bathroom and gave me a pair of scrub pants to put on. I was terrified to take my pants off and see how much blood there was.
I came out of the bathroom and the nurse was nowhere to be found. I had no idea what I was supposed to do. She left me back in the triage area without any instructions as to where to go next. I felt like I was just going to collapse onto the floor. I knew my current situation was devastating to only me at that moment.
Thankfully, a kind doctor saw me and asked where I was supposed to be. I told her I didn’t know. It had been about an hour by this point and I couldn’t help but wonder if my baby was even alive anymore. The doctor sat me down with a nurse and they checked me in and let me sit in a small side room away from everyone. Totally alone. My husband was still on his way and I had to sit there with my own thoughts for 30 minutes.
Finally, my husband got there and he was such a comfort to have by my side. His sweet words and embraces made me feel so much better.
Another 30 minutes passed before they got us into a room. The doctor wanted to get some blood to run some tests before we did the ultrasound. The nurse came in to draw the blood and messed something up and blood started running down my arm onto the floor. She said “oh, I guess I should have asked if you were ok with blood.” This of course made me lose my sh*t again. My husband said something like “well, she’s already lost enough today.” Of course this poor nurse had no idea what was going on.
The doctor finally came in with the ultrasound. I couldn’t breath. He was able to find baby boy pretty quickly. His little heartbeat was very apparent and strong. I just cried huge tears of relief that he was still there.
I didn’t want a cervical check, it felt unnecessary and my midwife mentioned that my cervix would likely be open a little anyway with all the blood and clots I had lost. We didn’t feel like it would tell us anything.
The ER doctor said I should refrain from working out, sex, lifting anything over 10lbs, excessive squatting, and anything too stressful. Basically modified bed rest. He also said it was possible I could still lose the baby.
It was midnight by the time we left the ER. Both my husband and I were so emotionally and physically exhausted. The next day, I sat on the couch all day. I was still spotting and terrified to do anything. Any time I needed to cough or sneeze, I was so scared I’d start bleeding again.
My midwife set me up for an ultrasound the following day to check to see what had caused the bleeding. I realized that the entire time we were at the ER the doctor never said what had caused the bleeding. They just diagnosed me with a threatened miscarriage. If I hadn’t known about a hematoma from my first pregnancy, I wouldn’t have known to ask if that was the cause.
The ultrasound couldn’t come soon enough. I was so nervous and worried about my little baby. The ultrasound tech was the sweetest man and talked me through everything. I even got to see baby boy yawning.
My midwife and I got the report the next day and there was no hematoma or any sign of anything that would have caused bleeding. The only theory we had to work on was that it bleed itself out. I’m sure my running to the car from my class helped with that but probably wasn’t the most advisable thing to do.
Each day we moved away from the event, life got a little easier and I felt a little more like myself. After 2 weeks I was given the ok to start working out and having relations again. To this point, 11 weeks later, I haven’t had any additional issues whatsoever.
Advice to Help You Get Through This Time
Dealing with a subchorionic hematoma can be terrifying. You are so worried about your little baby but there is really nothing you can do. This was the most frustrating part for me.
My type ‘A’ personality made me want to know everything I could about hematomas and what the risk was. I wanted to read real stories and there were a ton of good stories but an equal amount of not so good ones. This might be a good option for you. Knowing the facts helped me put the issue in perspective.
Know that you didn’t do anything to cause this. Unfortunately, doctor’s don’t know what causes hematomas and who is more likely to get one. Having one in one pregnancy doesn’t put you at more of a risk for having one in a subsequent pregnancy, I guess I just got “lucky“.
The general rule I kept coming upon was that you were back on rest for 2 weeks anytime you had bright red blood.
After the bright red blood, pink and brown spotting are common. Cramping is normal during all of this.
The most important fact to remember is that most women go on the deliver totally healthy and happy babies. Sometimes the hematoma bleeds itself out, is reabsorbed into the body, or is a constant throughout the entire pregnancy.
My midwife suggested taking liquid chlorophyll to help build my blood supply back up. She suggested taking twice the recommended serving size for about a week. This stuff tastes gross in water but you really can’t taste it in juice.
Join a support group either on sites like BabyCenter or Facebook. Even if its just to tell your story or read others.
As I finish this post, my baby boy is jumping around in my belly. My experience was traumatizing. It’s one of the reasons that this pregnancy will likely be my last, and that’s ok. It’s ok to feel any emotion you might be feeling. I guarantee I felt them all.
Just take one day at a time and I promise it does get easier each day. Time was my main source of healing.
Feel free to leave a comment below with your experience. Talking about it helps. You can always email me as well.