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On 1 October, Chrissy Teigen shared a post on social media revealing that she and husband, singer John Legend, had suffered the loss of their third child, Jack, after experiencing excessive bleeding.
The 34-year-old wrote on Instagram that she and her husband are “shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we’ve never felt before”, stating: “We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn’t enough.”
For the last few weeks, fans of Teigen have been following her regular updates on her pregnancy, including a persistent heavy bleeding. On Sunday 27 September, Teigen was admitted to hospital. “Every time I’d go to the bathroom, it would be blood. Even just laying there, it would be blood. Today the big difference was it was like if you’d turn a faucet on too low and leave it,” she said.
But Teigen reassured people that she and her baby were healthy and remained strong. On Monday she had two blood transfusions at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre, saying that the bleeding had now been happening for around a month. Teigen never confirmed her due date but she was estimated to be about halfway through her pregnancy.
Then, on Thursday, Teigen posted: “To our Jack – I’m so sorry that the first few moments of your life were met with so many complications, that we couldn’t give you the home you needed to survive.” The cause has not been confirmed, but will understandably cause anxiety for any women who have experienced bleeding during their pregnancy.
The Independent spoke to Kate Marsh, midwifery manager at baby loss charity Tommy’s, about what bleeding means and what to do about it.
What causes bleeding during pregnancy?
The NHS says that vaginal bleeding “during pregnancy is relatively common and doesn’t always mean there’s a problem – but it can be a dangerous sign.” Marsh agrees that the causes of bleeding can be varied and don’t always mean the worst for you or your baby.
“The cause really depends on how many weeks pregnant you are. In nearly pregnancy (so the first 8-12 weeks), it is more common for some women to experience some light spotting,” says Marsh.
“Bleeding in the first trimester is most common, you’ve got changes in hormones which can cause changes to cervix as well, occasionally bleeding can be due to infection so whether urine or different infection. An implantation bleed is also quite common at the beginning.”
Throughout the duration of pregnancy, Marsh says that the most common cause of bleeding is from the placenta, perhaps it is low-lying, or there might have been trauma or injury to the cervix.
Marsh added that most of the time, bleeding during pregnancy is nothing to worry about, but women who experience any bleeding should always contact their doctor or midwife just to make sure. “The most important thing to know is to get it checked out,” she says, regardless of source.
How much blood is a problem?
Marsh says that it’s really difficult to give an idea of how much blood is an issue because it’s so difficult to quantify. But the general rule is that any blood at all should be checked by a medical professional, either your doctor or midwife.
“If it is very early days – so four to six weeks and very light bleeding – quite often women will get a bit of spotting when their next period should have been, and the advice to you might just be to stay at home, pop on a pad and monitor it, but that pregnant woman should still always have a consultation with either a doctor or midwife because we need to rule out anything else,” she adds.
What if you’re experiencing bleeding alongside pain?
If you’re experiencing both bleeding and pain, you will need to be seen by a medical professional so they can rule out other causes, such as ectopic pregnancy. The NHS defines ectopic pregnancy as “when a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes”. In the UK, around 1 in every 90 pregnancies is ectopic. This is around 11,000 pregnancies a year.
“If that woman is experiencing pain, we need to rule out ectopic pregnancy, if they’re getting shoulder hip pain or pain on one side of abdomen then that woman needs to be seen,” she says. “But if a woman feels well and has no other symptoms and just has blood on wiping then they might be ok to stay at home and be monitored. But they should still be in consultation with a medical professional to make that judgement call for them.”
What should you do if you experience bleeding during pregnancy?
Marsh stresses the importance of always seeking medical help when you are bleeding during pregnancy even if it has happened before and everything was fine.
“Each time that you bleed, you do need to be seen by a doctor because you don’t know with each episode if there is something else going on and you need to check that the baby is well and safe.”
Seeking medical help is particularly important, Marsh adds, because conditions can worsen quite quickly. “Unfortunately, the bleeding can happen very quickly so we don’t want women to be at home thinking, ‘oh this happened before this is fine’, and then suddenly they bleed very heavily. Of course, not all bleeding means you’re losing the baby, but for each episode you do need to be seen.”
Marsh stressed that pregnant women should never fear seeking help from a doctor during their pregnancy, or being a hassle for reaching out repeatedly. “As a midwife, we 100 per cent want to see women if they have any concerns, bleeding or change in symptoms,” she added. Seeing a professional will also alleviate any anxiety the pregnant woman might be experiencing.
“You’ve got to think about mental health and emotional wellbeing,” she adds. “Being at home with high anxiety… you’re not going to relax anyway. So you might as well go in and be checked and either they’ll send you home or be able to treat you in the best place with the best possible care.”
How worried should pregnant women be about seeking medical help during the pandemic?
Marsh urges pregnant women not to be put off seeking medical help during the pandemic. “Call ahead and the doctors will make it super safe for you to be there,” she says. “Everywhere is set up with cleaning and PPE so it is as safe as it could possibly be. I don’t want women thinking, ‘I’m at risk of being exposed to Covid-19 if I get this bleeding checked out’.”
In the UK, approximately one in four pregnancies end in loss either during pregnancy or birth, while it is estimated that one in four women have experienced miscarriage, Tommy’s states.
You can contact the Miscarriage Association helpline on 01924 200799 or email the charity at [email protected] The helpline is open from 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday.
To contact Tommy’s midwives, you can call the charity’s pregnancy line on 0800 014 7800, open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, or email [email protected]
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