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What are Common Causes of a Hemorrhage During Pregnancy?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Among the most common causes of a hemorrhage during pregnancy are miscarriage and leftover tissue after a miscarriage. In some cases, excessive bleeding may develop because of problems with the placenta. Other possible causes include premature labor and retention of a dead fetus in the womb. Uterine rupture may also contribute to hemorrhaging, but it is much less common than other causes.

One common cause of hemorrhaging during pregnancy is a miscarriage. This may occur, for example, when a pregnancy loss has occurred and the body is attempting to expel tissue or clots left in the woman’s uterus. Hemorrhaging may also occur because tissue remaining in the uterus after a pregnancy lead to an infection.

Sometimes a hemorrhage during pregnancy is the result of problems with the placenta. For example, the placenta may tear partially or entirely away from the uterine wall and cause excessive bleeding. Unfortunately, this condition, which is referred to as placental abruption, can threaten the lives of the unborn child and the mother. Additionally, a woman may experience a hemorrhage during pregnancy not because the placenta has torn away from the wall of the uterus, but because the placenta is abnormally positioned within the uterus. This condition, called placenta previa, occurs when the placenta is positioned over the opening of the uterus.

The death of an unborn baby may also lead to hemorrhage during pregnancy. This cause is most likely to occur in the first trimester of pregnancy. It is not a common cause of hemorrhaging during the second or third semester of pregnancy, though it may occur occasionally.

Premature labor may also cause hemorrhage during pregnancy. Premature labor begins before the 37th week of pregnancy, the point a pregnancy is considered full term. The average full-term pregnancy lasts for about 40 weeks. Many women have premature labor and do not experience hemorrhaging. In some cases, however, a problem within the uterus leads to excessive bleeding. This may occur, for example, if problems existed with the placenta or if abnormal growths are present inside the womb.

Uterine rupture is also among the possible causes of hemorrhage during pregnancy. It occurs when the uterus splits open and causes the baby to move into the mother’s abdomen. Fortunately, it is not as common as other issues that cause excessive bleeding during pregnancy. When uterine rupture does occur, however, it puts the fetus and the mother in serious danger.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By bear78 — On Jun 23, 2013

Ladies! Don't freak out if you have bleeding and had IVF (in vitro fertilization). It's common to have some bleeding during pregnancy after IVF. I had it and so did my sister and we both conceived by IVF.

By ZipLine — On Jun 22, 2013

@SarahGen-- How far along are you? My doctor said that hemorrhage with heavy bleeding during the first trimester is very dangerous and can cause a miscarriage. But if you're not bleeding much and if you're in the second or third trimester, everything might be okay.

I had some minor bleeding with blood clots and cramps during my pregnancy, but I was in the second trimester. The symptoms went away after a few weeks and I had a very healthy baby girl without complications. My doctor said that it was probably my body getting rid of some tissues that had separated from the uterus.

By SarahGen — On Jun 22, 2013

I just found out that I have a subchorionic hematoma. I had been spotting for a few days and the doctor found the hematoma during an ultrasound.

I've just been told to rest. The doctor said that the hematoma is small and that they will keep an eye on it to see if it gets bigger. I'm still spotting but not as bad as I was.

Has anyone had spotting during pregnancy due to a subchorionic hematoma? What happened?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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