Unlike spotting, real bleeding during pregnancy is a serious issue. Medical attention should be sought if you are bleeding heavily. If the blood is bright red, contains clots, or is accompanied by cramps, it is definitely a sign that something is wrong. It doesn’t matter which trimester you are in. If you are bleeding while you are pregnant, you must find out the cause immediately.
If you are bleeding during your pregnancy, keep these things in mind:
- Always wear a panty liner or pad to keep track of the color and amount of blood loss.
- Never insert anything into your vagina, such as a tampon, douche, etc.
- Never have sexual intercourse if you’re bleeding and pregnant.
- During your pregnancy, your cervix may be extra sensitive. This tends to cause spotting in some women. If you’re spotting, not bleeding, it’s probably nothing to worry about.
- Toward the end of your pregnancy, if you notice bloody mucus, it could mean that the mucus plug is gone or has been lost. It could also mean labor is beginning, and you should report to the doctor.
Causes of Bleeding During Pregnancy
Bleeding during pregnancy is often a good indication that something is wrong. It can happen for a variety of reasons, but in most cases it should be considered a medical emergency, and you should go directly to the emergency room. If you are not able to get there under your own power, and no one is available to take you, do not hesitate to call 911. Possible causes of bleeding include:
- Ectopic pregnancy (implantation occurs outside of uterus)
- Molar pregnancy (this is rare; it’s the growth of abnormal tissue instead of an embryo)
- Placental abruption (placenta separates from uterus, usually in 3rd trimester)
- Placenta previa (placenta covers part or all of the cervix)
- Preterm labor (when labor happens before the 37th week of pregnancy)
Another possible cause of spotting or bleeding during pregnancy is a miscarriage. Miscarriages, unfortunately, are the end result of approximately 10–20 percent of all pregnancies. Possible signs of miscarriage include:
- Severe abdominal pain or cramping
- Vaginal spotting or bleeding during pregnancy
- Aching, pressure, or pain in the lower back
- Unusual vaginal discharge
Miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies occur during the first trimester, while molar pregnancies, placental abruption, placenta previa, and preterm labor happen during the second and third trimesters.
Light bleeding during pregnancy, even if it is more than spotting, is not unusual in the first trimester and is typically nothing to be alarmed about. Somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of pregnant women experience some spotting or bleeding during their pregnancies. Normal first-trimester bleeding may be due to hormonal changes, sexual activity, or any of a number of other causes that will not harm you or your baby. In most cases, your doctor will advise you to rest, stay off your feet, refrain from having sex, and not douche (douching is an unhealthy practice in any case, but you should never douche if you are pregnant).
Other causes of spotting or bleeding during your first trimester that are considered normal or low risk are:
- Spotting after intercourse
- Losing the mucous plug
- Irritated cervix
Other Symptoms With Bleeding During Pregnancy
It could be a bad sign if you are experiencing bleeding during pregnancy in addition to other symptoms, such as:
- Back pain
- Pelvic pain
- Abdominal pain
- Vaginal discharge
- Excessive thirst
These other symptoms can accompany bleeding at any point during your pregnancy. But again, it’s very important that you contact your healthcare provider if you are experiencing any sort of bleeding, regardless of whether you’re experiencing other symptoms.
Treatment for Bleeding During Pregnancy
In most cases, bleeding during pregnancy is treatable, but how it will be treated depends on your doctor’s diagnosis. Many doctors strongly insist that an expectant mother should avoid stress during her pregnancy and get enough fluids, rest, and nutrition every day.
As unpleasant as this may sound, it’s important that you track the amount of blood loss by looking at pads or panty liners. Bringing these items with you (yes, used) to your doctor’s appointment can help your doctor diagnose you more quickly.