Subchorionic Hemorrhage in Pregnancy

A pregnant woman getting an ultrasound of her abdomen

Tim Hale / Stone / Getty Images

Any time that you have bleeding during pregnancy, it is cause for concern. While there are many reasons that you may have spotting or bleed in pregnancy, most are harmless. A subchorionic hemorrhage may or may not be worrisome, depending on the size and location. 

Loading shell for quizzesApp1 vue props component in Globe.

What Is a Subchorionic Hemorrhage?

A subchorionic hemorrhage, also called a subchorionic hematoma, is bleeding between the amniotic sac (membranes) and the uterine wall. This can occur by the placenta disconnecting from the original site of implantation, resulting in bleeding of the chorionic membranes, the outer layer of the amniotic sac.

While most people hear the word hemorrhage and imagine pools of blood and worst-case scenarios, a subchorionic hemorrhage is not quite as drastic as it sounds.

Most women who have experienced this type of bleeding have gone on to have full-term pregnancies and deliver a healthy baby.

You are more likely to have a subchorionic hemorrhage if you are pregnant after in vitro fertilization (IVF) or a thawed embryo transfer. You may also have a higher incidence if you are pregnant with a baby that is not your first baby. Age can also be a factor.

How Often Do They Occur?

Subchorionic hemorrhage happens in almost 2% of all pregnancies, but it is the cause of about 20% of all bleeding in the first trimester. About a quarter of women will experience bleeding in the first trimester.

A subchorionic hemorrhage may cause bleeding that is visible or you may only see it during an ultrasound done in pregnancy for a different reason. It can be varying in quantity from spotting to heavy bleeding. The blood can be pink, red, bright red or brown. If you are spotting or bleeding, your health care provider may use ultrasound to determine the cause.

Pregnancy Outcomes 

Any area of bleeding during pregnancy may increase the risks of complications. Women who have a subchorionic hemorrhage are at an increased risk for miscarriage and preterm labor, however, the risk is dependent on the size, location, symptoms, and timing in the pregnancy.

There is a correlation with the size of the hemorrhage. The larger the area of bleeding, the more likely you are to have a complication, though this is certainly not true for all cases. 

A Word From Verywell

Many women experience bleeding during pregnancy and go on to have healthy babies. If you are bleeding or spotting, contact your doctor, who will likely ask you about the amount, timing, and color of the spotting or bleeding. The general advice is to lay down and, depending on the type and volume of bleeding, you may be asked to come into the office to get checked out.

Your doctor or midwife can help you understand what your specific risk factors are as well as the likelihood it will cause you problems in your current pregnancy. Routine prenatal care, certain prenatal tests, and good follow up will be helpful.

Was this page helpful?
5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Asato K, Mekaru K, Heshiki C, et al. Subchorionic hematoma occurs more frequently in in vitro fertilization pregnancy. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2014;181:41-4.  doi:10.1016/j.ejogrb.2014.07.014

  2. Norman SM, Odibo AO, Macones GA, Dicke JM, Crane JP, Cahill AG. Ultrasound-detected subchorionic hemorrhage and the obstetric implicationsObstetrics & Gynecology. 2010;116(2):311-315. doi:10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181e90170

  3. Naert MN, Khadraoui H, Muniz rodriguez A, Naqvi M, Fox NS. Association Between First-Trimester Subchorionic Hematomas and Pregnancy Loss in Singleton Pregnancies. Obstet Gynecol. 2019;134(2):276-281.  doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000003360

  4. Hendriks E, Macnaughton H, Mackenzie MC. First Trimester Bleeding: Evaluation and Management. Am Fam Physician. 2019;99(3):166-174. 

  5. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology. Bleeding during pregnancy. September 2019.

Additional Reading