Contractions & Bleeding at 23 Weeks Pregnant

We’re all aware of all the infinite number of awful things that life can hand us. Something will eventually happen to all of us (or lots of somethings…). Being in the medical field seems to make me hyper-aware of this. But knowing something bad can happen (or even assuming something bad will happen) can never prepare you for when an event actually does occur.

Fetal viability is 24 weeks. So contractions and bleeding before then? Not good. Very not good. Warning about some TMI and mildly graphic stuff in this post, as to be expected based on the topic. I thought about leaving certain events and descriptions out, but I didn’t really see the point. If you’re not comfortable reading this type of thing, you should probably stop reading now…

Preterm Labor Scare at 23 Weeks Pregnant

Ben and I were in California for his brother’s wedding. I was 23 weeks pregnant. No complications. Super healthy. Feeling great. It was supposed to be a great weekend with plenty of good conversation, amazing (Indian!!) food and fun activities (like Mehndi night where the women have henna done!).

henna from Mehndi night

Ben and I flew into California on a Friday. Traveling is no fun when pregnant, but it went fine. We went to dinner Friday night, got done fairly early, went back to the hotel, and had sex (see, the TMI is starting…). Since I got pregnant, I’ve consistently had mild contractions after sex. But this time, I had painful, regular contractions and low back pain. I didn’t know why they were so painful. It felt like what I assumed labor would feel like. But in my mind there was no way this could represent labor contractions. It was way too early. So I tried my best to ignore them. They eventually lessened and I went to sleep.

I felt normal by the morning, so I didn’t even think twice before having sex again. Sounds like a bad idea in retrospect, huh? But sex was normal, not painful or different in any way. And I didn’t have any painful contractions afterwards (just my normal ones). But what I did find I had was bleeding. Lots of bleeding. The-bathroom-looks-like-a-murder-scene type of bleeding. I showered and cleaned up (because, why not?). We gave the bleeding a good 1-2 hours to slow before calling my OB, who recommended to get seen soon if the bleeding didn’t stop.

The bleeding didn’t stop. Nor did the mild contractions, which caused even more bleeding. We looked up hospitals with OB in the area (making sure it was at least partially covered by insurance), and we went in. We were roomed super fast and I got hooked up to all the monitors. Then the workup started. Vitals were good. The ultrasound showed baby was wiggling all over the place, there was a lot of amniotic fluid and the placenta was in a good spot. All good. The pelvic exam showed a good amount of blood in the vagina, but no signs of active bleeding. Not super helpful. She then checked my cervix, which was soft and just a touch open. Not great, seeing as it should be hard and closed. Because of this they decided to monitor me.

contractions on the monitor

Shortly after they left the room my contractions got worse. They quickly placed and IV and hooked me up to IV fluids and gave me a shot of terbutaline with hopes this would stop the contractions. While it didn’t totally stop them, it did help. At least for awhile. They kept coming, but with decreased frequency. They were pretty similar to the painless contractions I’d had for weeks. The OB rechecked my cervix about 4-5 hours later and there was no change, which meant labor was not progressing. Good news. I got a formal ultrasound done to measure my cervical length. We hoped that it’d be normal and therefore reassuring, but it wasn’t. I did have significant cervical shortening, which means I’m at increased risk for preterm labor. After discussing with the OB, we decided to go home. I was discharged with vaginal progesterone to decrease my chances of preterm labor, and instructions to “take it easy.” I am still planning on working as long as my body can handle it.  But no more intense exercise. No more sex. And essentially nothing else that could cause significant stress on my body.

Maternity Travel Outfit 24 Weeks

We’re back home now. Things are going ok. I have a lot of anxiety, especially when my contractions get more frequent/ stronger. I know worrying doesn’t help, and I’m working on finding ways to deal with it. Its a process. And we’ll be taking it one day at a time over here!