Bleeding is essentially the anti-symptom of pregnancy, so going through it when you’re expecting can be nothing short of terrifying. I was 7 weeks pregnant when I started bleeding, and immediately sought medical help. This is my experience and all of the developments thus far through this pregnancy as a result.
TW: Pregnancy, blood, medical themes.
If you’re pregnant or think you might be and are bleeding from your vagina, you should always seek immediate medical attention. In the UK, call your GP, non-emergency medical service 111, midwife or other appropriate health professional. If you’re unable to get the support you need quickly, report to your local walk-in centre or A&E.
This time round, I found out I was pregnant at about 4 weeks; a considerably different experience to my first pregnancy! Wanting to know just how far gone I was and hoping for some reassurance after things being high risk last time round (plus a whole host of mixed results on tests presenting the possibility of a chemical pregnancy), we went private for an early scan at 6+ weeks. But just three days later, I started bleeding.
Ben had been away for the night, so I was hyped to have him home and had obviously made sure I had a decent face of make-up and nice outfit on because duhhhh, I was gonna GET SOME. Alas, that plan was not quite meant to be. Because he came home, we sat on the sofa in front of the telly and then when I went for a quick wee, I realised that I was bleeding.
I’ve only had a few ‘real’ periods in my life to any flaps-related blood loss to (because I spent so long on the pill and until recently my uterus played home to my beloved Mirena coil), but this was as much as I’d expect to see during a period. No clots, but definitely blood; within a few minutes I’d managed to go through my jeans.
Of course, I immediately let Ben know what was happening – hell, I was in full panic mode – but we were faced with the very real issue of not knowing what to do or who to call, as the pregnancy was only 7 weeks along. We hadn’t yet met a Community Midwife (the appointment was booked, but hadn’t happened yet), but my GP is open until 8pm daily so I called them for advice. They mentioned that 111 wouldn’t be quick enough for the care I may need as they were experiencing well over an hour wait to speak to a person, and this obviously didn’t warrant the use of ambulance; so they advised we head to A&E.
Armed with surgical masks, a handbag full of period pads and a lot of tears, we drove straight to our nearest A&E where the triage nurses took my obs and immediately phoned gynaecology. And we waited. And waited. In all we sat in an A&E waiting room for two hours while staff tried to reach the relevant department on the phone. No one was answering. Eventually, they admitted the wait could be much longer and that there was realistically not much they could do, so referred to us EPAU (the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit) when they opened in the morning. Only, they weren’t sure they would be opening, because they still couldn’t reach anyone on the phone and the next day was Christmas Eve. It was, needless to say, fucking heart wrenching to leave the hospital and know it was a possibility that we may not find out if we’d lost our baby for another three or four days.
I did a lot of crying into Ben’s arms and we got home safely. I don’t think either of us slept that night, which is undoubtedly to be expected. I had convinced myself that I was miscarrying and was up and ready to phone the hospital again at 5am. Of course, they didn’t open until 9.
Thankfully, when I called at 9 on Christmas Eve, the EPAU team were not only at work but they were ready and willing to sweep us up and give us incredible care. We rushed back to the hospital for an internal scan at 10am the same day; and within 5 seconds of inserting the probe (early pregnancy scans are internal), the nurse confirmed “your baby is fine”.
The relief was insane, and I could not be more grateful for her swift report because FUCK, being in a room crying over a mask while having medical staff inspect you from the inside out is as nerve-wracking as it is bizarre. The nurse sonographer took her time and confirmed that all was OK in there; the blood wasn’t around the baby and thus it remained unexplained. I was exactly as pregnant as the previous scan had confirmed, and she was kind enough to give us a scan picture. As I’d had a previous diagnosis of post-natal PTSD, they also rebooked us in for a fortnight’s time for further reassurance.
I stopped bleeding 3/4 days later and by the time we returned to EPAU for another scan at 9 weeks, all was well and I’d almost stopped worrying. We spoke a lot about my last pregnancy, birth and medical history and later met our Community Midwife for an in-depth registration into the maternity system. My bleeding remains unexplained (it can often be ‘one of those things’ that happens as your body shifts and develops during pregnancy) but it can be a sign of loads of things happening as your baby develops. Bleeding is common during miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy but can also be a symptom of cervical changes, an infection, a placental abruption or low-lying placenta, or even your ‘show’ displaying that your body is readying itself for labour. Oh, and it’s a super common side effect of having sex when pregnant, so maybe chill on the rougher stuff.
Honestly, the medical care we received in EPAU was the best either of us has experienced; private or public. From staff taking the time to learn Ben’s name and specifically speak to him about he was feeling to the immediate confirmation of a heartbeat and the unrelenting friendliness and support as I sobbed, they could not have done more for us. If we had have received difficult news, I can think of no medical professionals I would rather have it from.
You should seek immediate medical advice if you bleed during pregnancy, but what I wish I’d known is that it effects up to 25% of pregnancies at some point – and the majority of those work out all just fine in the end. Don’t wait, don’t be afraid to push to see someone as quickly as possible, but try not to worry yourself to the point of pure panic. Accessing help should provide you with some answers… and things may well work out better than you assume.
Oh, and I did get some eventually. Crying and bleeding just didn’t really set the mood I was after.. Guess I’m not as adventurous in the bedroom as I’d like to think… 😉
The featured image used at the top of this blog is by Monika Kozub, for Unsplash.