Monday, April 1, 2013

Ask Us Anything: What Should I Do About Bleeding During Pregnancy?

"About a week after I found out I was pregnant, I started to bleed. It has been going on for about 3 weeks now. What should I do?"

Dr. Lynn-Marie Aronica Responds:

Many women experience bleeding during their pregnancy. Although a common
occurrence, it may mean that there is something happening that needs medical attention. Depending on the gestational age, or how far along the patient is, it may be a serious sign that evaluation needs to happen in the hospital.

If early in pregnancy, the first 13 weeks, bleeding may be a sign of a miscarriage. Prompt evaluation by a physician can put a mother's mind at ease that everything is fine. An exam coupled with a possible sonogram can help determine the location of the pregnancy, and if there is a heartbeat. If this has already been done, then simply listening to the heartbeat in the office can decrease anxiety in the mother.

As the pregnancy progresses, there may be more serious reasons for the bleeding. Placental causes need to be evaluated. Placental previa or a placenta covering the cervix can be diagnosed at the 18 week sonogram. This condition can lead to painless bleeding and pelvic rest is often prescribed. If a woman is diagnosed with a placenta previa she should always contact her physician if there is any bleeding.

Placenta abruption, or separation of the placenta from the uterine wall, can be a life threatening condition for both mother and baby depending on the amount of bleeding taking place. Risks for bleeding from a separation may include smoking, drug use or abdominal trauma like a fall or car accident. A physician will promptly evaluate the amount of bleeding and need for further tests and sonograms.

Overall bleeding is a common occurrence in pregnancy that usually ends with a healthy baby and healthy mom. Rarely it can be life threatening. In all cases a phone call to the physician is the best course of action to help determine the best way to evaluate and treat the patient.

– Dr. Lynn-Marie Aronica

Dr. Lynn-Marie Aronica is board certified in OB/GYN. She sees patients at her office at the Mercy OB/GYN Center in Buffalo. Her interests include family-centered obstetrics and high-risk obstetrics. 

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