As someone who spent 16 weeks vomiting till every blood vessel in my face popped thanks to hyperemesis gravidarum, I’ve had my fair share of experience with seeing blood in the toilet bowl. When the hyperemesis finally subsided it was replaced, beginning in the late second trimester, with acid reflux that once again let to vomiting so violent that that blood vessels in my face popped and the toilet bowl was filled with stomach acid and blood. Nothing scares a pregnant woman more than seeing blood no matter where it’s coming from! To find out more about the most common causes and what can be done about it I spoke with Dr. Vonne Jones, MD, an OB/GYN providing care to women at Total Women’s Care in Houston, TX.
For the record, the only thing that helped control the bloody vomiting associated with my hyperemesis diagnosis was getting an anti-nausea medication, Zofran, administered via IV, which I did every other day for three months at a nearby hospital. Later, I used Omeprazole twice a day to control by acid reflux.
Momtastic: What are some reasons that a woman might vomit blood during pregnancy?
Dr. Vonne Jones: Usually women that are vomiting blood you’ll find that the blood is a light red blood as opposed to a bright red blood and that’s because the mucus membranes change during pregnancy. The mucus membranes become a little bit leakier and, when that happens, you’re at risk for easier bleeding. That’s why sometimes pregnant mums can get bleeding when they brush their teeth or when they blow their nose too hard. It could also be that mom’s not doing anything at all, but when she coughs, you might have a little bit of mucus damage. Another reason can be hyperemesis. If you’re passively vomiting, you’re constantly irritating the throat and you can have some bleeding because of that. Those are the two most common reasons, but if you’re having significant bleeding then it could be the worst-case scenario, a tear in the esophagus, or some sort of ulcer within the stomach.
Momtastic: At what point should a woman see a doctor?
Dr. Vonne Jones: If you’re having just a little bit of mucus with blood cash or if you’ve been vomiting a lot, you may see a little bit of dark brown blood or maybe a little bit of bright red blood – but if you’re coughing up, and everything that’s coming up is blood, that would be an emergency situation, so we’d want mums to reach out to their provider right away because that likely indicates some sort of gastrointestinal issue and it may be an emergency.
Momtastic: Is there anything that can be done to prevent it?
Dr. Vonne Jones: Unfortunately not. The best thing that I would say that you could potentially do to prevent it is if you’re vomiting a lot, reach out to your provider to see if they can help with some medication to medicate the nausea causing the vomiting.