If your bleeding is not severe and you are less than 37 weeks pregnant, your doctor will probably delay delivery so that your baby has more time to develop inside the womb. Your doctor will recommend:

  • Limiting your activity and possibly taking medication to reduce uterine contractions. Before the strong contractions associated with labor, you experience the minor contractions that occur throughout pregnancy. Though these contractions are normal, they push your baby downward against the placenta and cervix. If you have placenta previa, this may cause bleeding. Even if the bleeding stops and the placenta and cervix heal, new contractions can cause additional bleeding.

    Activity increases contractions-so at the first sign of bleeding you should limit your activities; this may include bedrest or hospitalization. If you're hospitalized once, you will probably only stay a few days; if you are hospitalized a second time, you may stay longer; and if you are hospitalized a third time, you will probably stay for the remainder of your pregnancy. If bedrest is not enough to stop your contractions, your doctor may prescribe medication, either intravenously or orally. Medications can make the difference between delivering prematurely and allowing your baby to fully develop.

  • Taking iron pills, intravenous fluids, and artificial blood substitutes-or possibly having a blood transfusion. These things can help make up for the blood you've lost. The specific treatment depends on the amount of blood you've lost.

If bleeding is severe, you will need an immediate cesarean section (C-section) to keep your condition stable. You may also need intravenous (IV) fluids and sometimes a blood transfusion.

Your doctor may also recommend an immediate C-section if:

  • you are at least 36 weeks pregnant;
  • the baby's estimated weight is 2,500 grams (5.5 pounds) or more;
  • an amniocentesis shows that the baby's lungs are ready;
  • the baby is in distress; or
  • your contractions are not responding to medication.