If you are pregnant, there is no doubt you are familiar, to some extent, with the risks and complications that may be present should you experience vaginal bleeding while pregnant, especially in the later part of your pregnancy. For many women, vaginal bleeding during pregnancy can represent a variety of complications but, for those women who experience vaginal bleeding in the late stage of pregnancy, there is great cause for concern as, often, this is attributed to a complication of the placenta, specifically placental abruption.
Placental abruption is a common concern among women who experience bleeding late in pregnancy especially for women who are close to pregnancy term. When bleeding is evident, it is important to seek the advice of a healthcare professional to determine not only the cause and origin of your pregnancy complication but also to monitor and manage the amount of blood lost. Without proper medical intervention, a pregnant woman’s health can be compromised, resulting in extremely low blood pressure, known as hypotension, and irregular heart beat. In the case of placental abruption, delivery can occur at any time beginning from the 36 week of gestation, placing the newborn at risk for premature delivery.
So, what could be the causes of vaginal bleeding and placental abruption? For some women the cause of vaginal bleeding and placental abruption may be attributed to lifestyle choices including tobacco use or use of illegal recreational drugs such as cocaine. For women who experienced a placental abruption in a prior pregnancy, there is a greater risk for abruption in subsequent deliveries.
The signs of complications associated with placental abruption usually begin as vaginal bleeding in the third trimester with many women reporting a significant amount of blood loss after sexual intercourse or when blood pressure increases. With blood loss of this nature occurring after 36 weeks gestation, it is important to seek out the immediate attention of your healthcare professional.
In terms of immediate management of placental abruption, women who experience bleeding in the third trimester will usually present to the healthcare facility with complications also associated with fetal distress. As a result, your obstetrician’s goal will be to resolve any blood pressure complications you may be experiencing and then to stabilize the distress of the fetus. Because the greatest risk for a woman with placental abruption involves the premature delivery of an infant or, in rare cases, death of an infant, your obstetrician may want to perform an emergency c-section even when prematurity is a concern.
As with any pregnancy complication, it is important to obtain early diagnosis and treatment from your obstetrician. In situations where third trimester vaginal bleeding is present, your obstetrician will need to be consulted immediately as this may be an indication of a more severe pregnancy complication, including placental abruption. When confirmed as placental abruption, it may be necessary to manage the complication with rest, medications and possible c-section delivery of the premature infant.