Saturday, February 21, 2009

Information for expectant parents

The appearance of a plus sign, two lines, or whatever pregnancy test indicator informs a woman that she is expecting can signal a time of change and excitement. Many people look forward to having a baby and are anxious to experience the changes and joys that lie ahead.

During the first few weeks of a pregnancy, the body is transforming at a rapid pace and many things are taking place. If this is a first pregnancy, you may be unaware of what to expect. While no one wants to think of complications arising early on in the pregnancy, it's important to be aware of certain warning signs and consult with your doctor if you experience any odd conditions.

A situation that may occur in the first trimester of pregnancy of which many women are unaware is a subchorionic hemorrhage. Also known as a subchorionic hematoma, subchorionic bleed or clot, a subchorionic hemorrhage (SCH) is the most common sonographic abnormality in the presence of a live embryo. It is estimated that 25 to 40 percent of all women will experience some sort of bleeding during the first trimester of pregnancy. An SCH is often the cause.

An SCH is a collection of fluid and blood that forms between the uterine wall and the chorionic membrane. While there is no concrete cause, some surmise it occurs during egg implantation. The egg slightly separates or tears from the uterus causing a bleed. There is nothing a woman did or could have done to cause or prevent them.

An SCH occurs to pregnant women of all ages and races. Depending upon the severity of the hemorrhage, a woman could experience mild to moderate bleeding, cramping and other symptoms -- or no symptoms at all. An SCH is a risk early in pregnancy because the blood clot itself can cause a miscarriage. The clot can release completely from the uterus and cause the fetus and placenta to miscarry.

According to WebMD, pregnant women with a demonstrable hematoma have a prognosis worse than women without a hematoma. The outcome of the fetus depends on the size of the hematoma, the mother's age, and the fetus' gestational age. Rates of miscarriage increase with advancing maternal age and increasing size of hematoma. Late first- or second-trimester bleeding also worsens the prognosis.

An ultrasound can shed light on whether you are experiencing a subchorionic hemorrhage and help determine the course of action. Treatment for an SCH varies among doctors and there is no definitive cure for the condition. Nature simply has to take its course. Most hematomas resolve themselves by 20 weeks of pregnancy, either being reabsorbed or bled out. Doctors may suggest you go on with your normal activities. Others advise you take it easy, meaning no heavy lifting, frequent resting, no exercise, and no sexual intercourse. Bed rest may be suggested if deemed necessary.

With frequent doctor check-ups and care on the part of the mother, many pregnancies go on to full term despite an SCH. Consult with your obstetrician to learn more about the condition and to discuss any concerns if you experience any bleeding or abnormalities during the pregnancy. It is preferable to err on the side of caution if you find anything that goes against the norm. Do not hesitate to call your doctor and assuage your fears. That is what he or she is there for.


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