Why You May Bleed During Pregnancy
First Half of PregnancySpotting during this time is common, especially after sex, a pelvic exam, or a transvaginal ultrasound. In these cases, the blood might be coming from the cervix. It becomes tender during pregnancy and could be a bit inflamed or irritated. This type of bleeding can also occur prior to a miscarriage or with an ectopic pregnancy, but most often it is not a cause for concern.
Heavier bleeding during the first trimester can also be a sign of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. This bleeding doesnt mean a miscarriage will occur, or that you have an ectopic pregnancy. About half of pregnant women who have bleeding do not miscarry. The most important thing you can do is to let you doctor know about any bleeding, so that you can evaluated for the cause.
Second Half of PregnancyDuring the late second and entire third trimester, causes of bleeding can include:
It Could Be The Start Of A Miscarriage
Yes, blood loss in early pregnancy can be a sign of miscarriage, especially if the blood’s red and the flow is heavy or youre also cramping and in pain. If you are also passing clots of pink or grey material, its very likely to be a miscarriage.
Potential Causes Of Bleeding During Pregnancy
Brian Levine, MD, MS, FACOG, is board-certified in obstetrics-gynecology, as well as reproductive endocrinology and infertility . He is the director and founding partner of CCRM New York and was named a rising star by Super Doctors from 2017 to 2019.
It is not possible to have a true menstrual period during pregnancy. Your hormone levels during pregnancy will change to prevent you from menstruating, and it is not possible for your body to shed its entire uterine lining while maintaining a pregnancy.
It is, however, possible to have menstrual-like bleeding for a variety of reasons during pregnancy.
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What Should I Do If Im Bleeding In Early Pregnancy
Any bleeding in the 1st 24 weeks of pregnancy should be checked out with a call to your midwife or GP.
As we’ve see above, there is quite a range of potential reasons for your bleeding but “as a general rule,” says Patrick O’Brien, “the heavier the bleeding, the more worrying it would be”.
When you call, try to give as much information as you can about how you’re bleeding. Try to include details about:
- how heavy the blood flow is
- how light/thick the blood is
- what colour the blood is
- whether you’re seeing any clots or other bits of tissue along with the blood
If it’s very early on in your pregnancy and you’re not in pain, you may be told to wait to see if the bleeding stops of its own accord. Unfortunately, there is little doctors can see on an ultrasound scan at this point that will tell them and you whether your baby is OK.
This is what happened to Jaxxy who posts on our MadeForMums Chat forum.“I’m 5 weeks and 5 days pregnant today. Ive had bleeding admittedly not loads but enough to make me think it could be miscarriage. Spoke to the doctors and theyve just said Ive got to ride it out.”
This is very typical of a lot of womens experiences at this stage of pregnancy and we know how difficult it can be. You may find it helps to share your experience with others on our MadeForMums Chat forum or you could call the Miscarriage Association‘s helpline on 01924 200799 . They also run a Facebook page and an online Live Chat.
Am I Bleeding Or Just Spotting
There’s a difference between bleeding and spotting during pregnancy. Spotting is when you notice a few drops of blood in your underwear. If you put a panty liner on, the blood won’t fill it. Spotting during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, is usually not concerning. Bleeding describes a flow of blood that’s greater than a drop here and there. If you need a pad to keep it from ruining your underwear, its usually considered bleeding. Call your healthcare provider if you experience spotting or bleeding. They may want to examine you or perform an ultrasound to determine the cause. Its better to be overly cautious to ensure you and your fetus are healthy.
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About Our Expert: Patrick O’brien
Patrick O’Brien has been a Consultant & Honorary Senior Lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at University College London Hospitals since 1999. He is also the Divisional Clinical Director for Women’s Health. He specialises in Maternal Medicine and high-risk obstetrics and has a particular interest in medical complications of pregnancy.
What Is Pregnancy Spotting
Whilst its not exactly normal, light bleeding or spotting during pregnancy is fairly common. Usually it turns out to be caused by something minor, or is just one of those things. Some mums do experience light spotting throughout their pregnancy and their baby is fine. Its really important you monitor any pregnancy discharge, and keep your GP updated if you notice any bleeding during your pregnancy. If your discharge changes from a white or clear colour, causes any symptoms or has an unpleasant smell, get in touch with your GP.
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Is It Normal To Bleed During Pregnancy
Bleeding during pregnancy, especially in the early stages, is quite common. About 1 in 4 women will experience vaginal spotting or bleeding during the first trimester. Many of these women will go on to have healthy pregnancies.
However, vaginal bleeding may be the first sign of a problem, so its important to contact your doctor or midwife if you experience vaginal bleeding at any stage of your pregnancy for advice on what to do next.
Why Am I Bleeding During Pregnancy
Bleeding during pregnancy happens for many reasons. Its common to have bleeding at some point in pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. However, vaginal bleeding at any time in pregnancy could indicate a complication or an underlying condition. Its always a good idea to share your symptoms with your healthcare provider so they can determine if the bleeding is caused by something serious. Try not to panic and know that many people who experience bleeding during pregnancy have healthy babies.
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How Can You Tell If Its Implantation Bleeding Or A Period
Every womanâs period is different, but â as a general rule â if it seems much lighter than your usual period it might be implantation bleeding.Other early signs of pregnancy â such as feeling sick or tired, food cravings or the frequent urge to pee â can also indicate that it was more likely to be implantation bleeding than a menstrual period.
What Are The Causes Of Bleeding During Pregnancy
The causes of bleeding during pregnancy are generally divided into two categories bleeding before 20 weeks and bleeding after 20 weeks gestation.
Before 20 weeks gestation, causes of bleeding may include:
- Implantation bleeding in very early pregnancy some women may experience bleeding when the pregnancy implants itself in the lining of the uterus .
- Miscarriage bleeding may be the first sign of a miscarriage. About 1 in 15 women who experience bleeding in early pregnancy end up having a miscarriage.
- Ectopic pregnancy a rare but serious cause of bleeding when a fertilised egg starts growing outside the uterus . An ectopic pregnancy can rupture and cause heavy bleeding, and may be life-threatening.
Bleeding in later pregnancy is usually caused by problems with the placenta such as:
- Placenta previa also known as a ‘low lying placenta’, when the placenta implants close to the cervix . If the cervix starts to open or the uterus contracts, this can cause bleeding.
- Placental abruption when the placenta starts to separate from the uterus during pregnancy but before birth, causing bleeding from the place where the placenta has peeled away. Bleeding caused by placental abruption is usually associated with sudden, severe abdominal pain.
Less common causes of bleeding, which may happen at any stage of pregnancy, may include:
- genital tract infections
- injuries to the genital tract
- growths or tumours of the reproductive system
- bleeding from vulvovaginal varicosities
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Be Prepared For These Questions
If you experience bleeding during pregnancy, be ready to answer these questions when you call or visit your doctor:
- How far along are you?
- When did you first have a positive pregnancy test?
- Have you had an ultrasound, and if so, what did it show?
- When did the bleeding start?
- Were there any obvious causes? For example, have you recently had intercourse or a vaginal exam?
- How heavy has the bleeding been?
- Have you had any pain or other symptoms with the bleeding?
If you are asked to make an appointment, your doctor is likely to check your cervix with a speculum. You might have an ultrasound or other testing to help learn the cause of the bleeding.
Many factors can cause spotting and bleeding during pregnancy. Because of that, its best to talk with your doctor if you have any bleeding. The bottom line is, if youre thinking about it, call your doctor.Thats what were here for, says Dr. McKenna.
When Does Implantation Bleeding Happen
You may notice implantation bleeding anytime between 7 to 14 days after conception. So, if you have a regular cycle, thereâs a change it could happen more-or-less when youâd expect to have your next period .
This is why some people mistake implantation bleeding for a very light period, especially if they werenât expecting to get pregnant.
For someone with a regular, 28-day menstrual cycle, the timing of implantation bleeding could look something like this:
Ovulation â the release of an egg from at least one of your ovaries â takes place around 14 days after the first day of your last period.
If you have sex around the time you ovulate, the egg may be fertilised by sperm within about 24 hours after ovulation â this is how long the egg usually lives after being released.
After fertilisation, the egg takes five or six days to travel via the fallopian tube to your uterus, where it starts to embed itself into the lining â this is implantation and it means youâre pregnant!
The implantation bleeding could happen sometime after this, as the embryo burrows down into the lining of your uterus.
Keep in mind that itâs difficult to know exactly when you ovulate or conceive, especially if your cycle is irregular. When you last had sex is not a reliable indicator either, because sperm can live for up to seven days inside a womanâs reproductive tract. This means conception might not occur for several days after sex.
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When Should Bleeding During Pregnancy Be Treated By A Doctor
Your healthcare provider should know of any bleeding or spotting during pregnancy. Even if its not serious at that moment in your pregnancy, they’ll want to make notes of your symptoms.
- Cramping or contractions.
- Fever or chills.
- Other signs of preterm labor like your water breaking.
If your providers office is closed, you should go to the nearest emergency room .
Try To Stop Smoking And Drinking Alcohol Or Taking Drugs In Pregnancy
Smoking can cause serious complications in pregnancy and birth. Stopping is, by far, one of the best things you can do for your baby. If you have a partner, its also beneficial if they stop smoking too.
It can be difficult to stop smoking, but its never too late and there is lots of support available to help you.
Drinking alcohol can also cause serious complications, especially during the first 3 months. There is no known safe level for drinking alcohol during pregnancy, so you are recommended to avoid it. Find out more about alcohol in pregnancy.
Using illegal or street drugs during pregnancy, including cannabis, ecstasy or cocaine, can have a serious effect on your unborn baby. It’s best not to stop abruptly without getting medical advice. This is because there may be withdrawal problems or other side effects. Your GP or midwife can help you.
Try not to be too hard on yourself if you were doing any of these things before you realised you were pregnant. Talk to your GP or midwife if you have any concerns about your baby.
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When To Contact Your Doctor
Once again, many women who experience some bleeding during pregnancy go on to have uneventful births and normal babies. However, bleeding during pregnancy should be treated as a pressing concern.
You must immediately contact your OB-GYN as soon as you notice any bleeding during pregnancy. Furthermore, you must tell your physician whether bleeding during pregnancy is accompanied by any other worrisome symptoms, such as cramping, fever, contractions, or chills.
Please remember that your physician is there to help you in a compassionate and comprehensive manner and must know about all the issues that you’re experiencing. Sometimes bleeding during pregnancy can be life-threatening for the mother and the baby.
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Placenta And Embryo Begin Forming
While you may have just started to wonder whether you’re pregnant, your soon-to-be baby has already found its home: The blastocyst has completed its journey from your fallopian tube to your uterus.
Once there, it burrows into your uterine lining and implants making that unbreakable connection to you that’ll last the next eight months .
As soon as that little ball of cells is settled in your uterus, it will undergo the great divide, splitting into two groups. Half of what’s now called the embryo will become your son or daughter, while the other half forms the placenta, your baby’s lifeline which channels nutrients and carries waste away until delivery.
Bleeding In Early Pregnancy: How Long Does It Last
Light spotting due to implantation bleeding usually only lasts for up to a week. However it is important to remember that everyone is different and may experience symptoms for different lengths of time.
For that reason, it is very hard to say how long bleeding will last in early pregnancy. If you experience heavier bleeding that lasts over a week or changes colour, you should speak to a healthcare provider.
When bleeding during early pregnancy, it is a good idea to use a sanitary pad. This may help you to assess how much bleeding you are experiencing.
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Is Bleeding During Pregnancy A Symptom Of Miscarriage
Light bleeding is usually nothing to worry aboutâresearch has shown that people with spotting are not more likely to have a miscarriage than people who donât have spotting . However, heavy bleeding may be more of a concern. If youâre pregnant and bleeding, call your healthcare provider to check in, just so they know whatâs going on.
Increased Discharge During Pregnancy
If youve noticed extra discharge during your pregnancy, please dont worry its completely normal and lots of expectant mums-to-be experience the same thing. This discharge is often thin, white and non-irritating. You may notice it gets heavier towards your due date, which is a good sign that your little one is on the way. If you are at all unsure or if you think your waters have broken, its important that you contact your maternity unit.
Sometimes discharge can be a sign of an infection or thrush, especially if theres an itching or burning sensation, too. If thats the cause, the discharge will tend to be thick whitish possibly itchy. The first thing to do is call your doctor, who will be able to check and help you treat it.
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