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What Is a Subchorionic Hematoma?

A subchorionic hematoma is a relatively common pregnancy complication.
A subchorionic hematoma can typically be diagnosed with an ultrasound scan.
Subchorionic hematoma is relatively common in the second trimester of pregnancy.
Most hematomas gradually dissipate over several weeks, and mothers are able to reach full-term without further problems.
Bed rest can reduce the chance of miscarriage when subchrionic Hematoma symptoms are present.
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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2014
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A subchorionic hematoma is a fairly common complication of pregnancy that involves blood entering and clotting in the space in between the placenta and the uterine wall. Bleeding occurs when part of the placenta detaches from the surrounding endometrial tissue in one or more places. In most cases, a small hematoma does not cause any symptoms nor is it a reason for major concern. A large one, however, can cause abdominal pains in the mother and unusual vaginal bleeding during pregnancy. There is a risk of miscarriage when symptoms are present, but careful monitoring, bed rest, and medication can greatly reduce the chances of complications.

The causes of a subchorionic hematoma are not entirely known. Problems occur when the outermost layer of the placenta, called the chorionic membrane, separates slightly from the uterine wall. This separation typically happens in the first trimester or early in the second trimester of pregnancy. There is no evidence to suggest that an expecting mother's genetics, diet, age, or activities have anything to do with the issue.

When hematoma occurs, blood pools in front of the uterine wall and gradually seeps into the underlying endometrial tissue. If there is a large amount of blood, a woman may experience spotting or occasionally heavy bleeding from her vagina. Clotting occurs as more blood is released, which can lead to cramps, bloating, and general abdominal pains. A large number of patients who have such hematomas do not experience any unusual physical symptoms.

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A subchorionic hematoma can usually be diagnosed with a simple ultrasound scan. Radiologists can easily tell where blood is collecting, how much is present, and whether or not the placenta or uterus has been damaged by studying ultrasound images. Once a diagnosis has been made, a medical professional can explain the details and risks of the situation to the patient and answer questions she may have. The prognosis is very good for most expecting mothers and their babies, especially if clots are small and there are no major symptoms.

Most obstetricians recommend their patients get plenty of rest and avoid stressful activities once they are diagnosed with subchorionic hematomas. They need to attend regular checkups so the healthcare provider can see whether internal bleeding is improving or getting worse. In some cases, a medical professional may recommend taking low-dose blood thinners to prevent clotting and expel pooled blood more quickly. Most hematomas gradually dissipate over several weeks, and mothers are able to reach full-term without further problems.

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anon316884
Post 3

I believe a hemorrhage is when you are bleeding and a hematoma is when a clot has formed.

ElizaBennett
Post 2

@Kat919 - I think the two terms are used interchangeably. Maybe they used the word "hemorrhage" with you because you were experiencing bleeding.

I had a midwife who said, "subchorionic hemorrhage is the ER diagnosis," meaning that's what they tell everyone who comes in with bleeding! I don't think your ER doc misled you or anything, because presumably the small separation of the placenta is what causes a blood vessel to break! Blood vessels are where blood comes from.

If the doc downplayed the situation, then there's probably nothing to worry about. Bed rest has not been shown to be effective in studies for most pregnancy complications, so be glad they didn't recommend it just to have it seem like they were doing something!

Subchorionic hemorrhage is common during pregnancy, I think much more so than people realize. (If you're on BabyCenter, you could go into your birth group and start a post for "subchorionic hemorrhage/hematoma" and see that tons of other people have had them!)

Kat919
Post 1

I went to the ER because I had cramping and bleeding (not bright red, but almost) and I was so afraid I was having a miscarriage. They did an ultrasound scan and diagnosed me with a subchorionic hemorrhage.

The ER doctor told me that pregnancy causes the development of a lot of new blood vessels and that one of them had burst, causing the bleeding.

Is a subchorionic hemorrhage the same thing as a subchorionic hematoma? Frankly, what the article is describing sounds a lot scarier than the way the ER doc put it! I was not advised to make any changes in my activity level.

Until I got on the Internet (stupid, I know), I was actually feeling reassured by the ultrasound, because it was my first ultrasound and they were able to see the baby's heart beat and everything checked out OK.

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