Understand your treatment options if you experience bleeding during pregnancy
Bleeding during pregnancy isn’t always a cause for concern, but it’s important to seek medical advice whenever you experience bleeding or spotting during pregnancy to ensure the well-being of you and your baby.
Your doctor should be able to assess the situation, perform necessary tests and examinations, and provide appropriate guidance or treatment based on the underlying cause. They should be able to determine whether the bleeding is a normal part of pregnancy or if further intervention or monitoring is required.
This article will discuss the most common causes, treatment and complications of bleeding during pregnancy.
Is bleeding during pregnancy normal?
Bleeding occurs in approximately 25% of all pregnancies, making it fairly common. It doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong. In fact, some women experience minor bleeding throughout their pregnancies and go on to have healthy babies.
However, if a woman has heavy bleeding, also known as hemorrhage, they should always discuss it with their doctor right away, as it could signify a more serious complication such as miscarriage. This typically occurs prior to the 20th week of pregnancy.
What are the most common reasons for bleeding during pregnancy?
There are various possible reasons why a woman might bleed during different trimesters of pregnancy.
The following are the most common causes of bleeding during the first trimester:
- Ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. This is a dangerous situation that can cause heavy bleeding and severe pain. An ectopic pregnancy is not viable and can lead to loss of fertility or even death if the woman isn’t treated in a timely manner with surgery.
- Miscarriage. Miscarriages (loss of pregnancy before 20 weeks) can happen for various reasons but most often occur due to genetic or chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus. Other contributing factors may include hormonal imbalances, maternal health conditions such as diabetes or thyroid disorders, uterine abnormalities, infections, immune system disorders, or lifestyle factors like smoking, drug use or excessive alcohol consumption. Bleeding is often the first sign of a miscarriage.
- Molar pregnancy. A molar pregnancy is a rare situation in which an abnormal cluster of cells develops in the uterus instead of a fetus. This is a dangerous condition that can lead to bleeding. In some rare cases, a molar pregnancy can become cancerous.
Second- and third-trimester bleeding
There are also a number of reasons bleeding might occur during the second or third trimester of pregnancy, including the following:
- Incompetent cervix. An incompetent cervix occurs when the cervix dilates too early, leading to premature labor. It can lead to heavy bleeding and the death of the fetus if the pregnancy is too early for the baby to survive.
- Placenta previa. Placenta previa is a condition that causes the placenta to cover part or even all of the cervix. Women with this condition must often deliver via cesarean section (C-section) because vaginal birth may be impossible or cause severe bleeding if attempted.
- Placenta accreta. This condition occurs when the placenta implants itself too deeply into the uterine wall.
- Cervical infection. Sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) like gonorrhea or chlamydia can cause bleeding during pregnancy.
- Uterine rupture. A uterine rupture is a rare condition in which the uterus tears during labor. Usually, it occurs when a woman has had a prior C-section and develops a scar. When that scar pulls and stretches, it can lead to uterine rupture and vaginal bleeding.
- Placental abruption. Placental abruption occurs when the placenta detaches from the uterine wall. It can lead to bleeding and pose serious risks to both the mother and baby.
- Preterm labor. Preterm labor happens when a woman goes into labor before the 37th week of pregnancy. It can cause cramping and bleeding.
What tests should be done if you’re experiencing bleeding during pregnancy?
If a woman experiences bleeding during pregnancy, their doctor should perform an exam and order appropriate tests to determine the cause, including:
- Abdominal exam. During this exam, the doctor will palpate a woman’s abdomen to determine the position of the baby.
- Blood tests. Blood tests may be performed to measure hormone levels, such as human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and progesterone, to assess the viability of the pregnancy. They can also help identify any hormonal imbalances or underlying health conditions.
- Pelvic exam. This exam is done to determine if the bleeding is coming from the cervix or vagina.
- Ultrasound. An ultrasound should be done to assess the health and development of the fetus. It can help determine the location of the pregnancy (to rule out ectopic pregnancy), check the baby’s heartbeat and identify any abnormalities or potential causes of bleeding.
How to stop bleeding during pregnancy
The treatment for bleeding during pregnancy varies based on the cause. Often, women are told to get bed rest, stay off their feet and avoid any strenuous activity, including sex. The doctor may also tell a woman to avoid traveling. In some cases, closer monitoring, hospitalization and surgery might be necessary.
What questions should a doctor ask about bleeding during pregnancy?
If a woman sees her doctor with concerns about bleeding during pregnancy, the doctor should ask certain questions to determine a cause and treatment, including:
- Does the blood include clots or tissue?
- When did you last have sex, and did you bleed after?
- What color is the blood?
- Do you have abdominal cramps?
- Are you experiencing pain, and if so, where and how severe is it?
- Have you been experiencing any dizziness, fever or other unusual discomforts?
- Have you recently fallen?
- Have you recently been standing or exercising more?
- Have you had prior surgeries on your uterus or cervix?
- Did you experience bleeding in a previous pregnancy?
- How heavy is your bleeding?
- How long does the bleeding take to fill a pantyliner?
When might complications from bleeding during pregnancy be medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional deviates from the accepted standard of care, resulting in harm to the patient. In the case of bleeding during pregnancy, potential instances of medical malpractice may include:
- Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose. If a healthcare professional fails to recognize the seriousness of the bleeding or misdiagnoses the underlying cause, leading to delayed or inadequate treatment, it could be considered medical malpractice. For example, if a doctor fails to diagnose placenta previa and allows the mother to deliver vaginally, resulting in harm to the mother or baby, this failure to diagnose could be medical malpractice.
- Inadequate monitoring or follow-up. If a healthcare professional fails to appropriately monitor the patient’s condition or neglects to provide necessary follow-up care, resulting in preventable complications or worsening of the situation, it may be deemed medical malpractice.
- Improper treatment or intervention. If a healthcare professional administers incorrect or inappropriate treatment for bleeding during pregnancy, leading to harm or exacerbation of the condition, it could be considered medical malpractice.
Contact an experienced birth injury lawyer
At Brown Trial Firm, we understand the physical, emotional and financial toll that a birth injury takes on a family. It’s important to understand that if your baby suffered a serious injury or death because of a medical professional’s failure to treat or diagnose your bleeding during pregnancy, you may be entitled to substantial compensation.
If you have questions about the birth injury lawsuit process or want help filing your claim, contact attorney Laura Brown at Brown Trial Firm. Laura has years of experience in birth injury law, helping families like yours all across the U.S. get the compensation they deserve.
Contact her today for a free consultation of your case.
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