Bleeding during pregnancy is fairly common, particularly during the first trimester, and generally, it’s not problematic. But, since bleeding may sometimes be a sign of something serious, it’s necessary to know the probable causes and visit your gynecologist to ensure you and your baby are well.
Bleeding in the First Trimester
Possible causes of bleeding in early pregnancy:
Implantation bleeding during pregnancy
Spotting occurs when the developing embryo implants itself in the lining of your womb. Implantation bleeding often happens around the time your period would have been due. It can also occur between 10-14 days after conceiving.
If a pregnancy ends earlier than the 24th week, it’s known as a miscarriage. Many untimely miscarriages (prior to 14 weeks) occur because there is something wrong with the infant. Other symptoms of miscarriage are strong cramps in the lower abdomen and tissue passing from the vagina. The bleeding due to marriage may start with light spotting and then turn into heavy vaginal bleeding within a few days. Other symptoms of miscarriage involve severe back pain and vaginal discharge.
In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized embryo implants outside of the uterus, generally in the fallopian tube. If the embryo goes on growing, it may cause the fallopian tube to rupture. This rupturing of the fallopian tube due to the growth of the embryo can be life-threatening to the mother. It results in intense abdominal pain along with vaginal bleeding. Other than heavy bleeding, a woman may even face sharp pain from the pelvis radiating to even neck and shoulders. Such symptoms of ectopic pregnancy of an emergency situation that requires the immediate attention of the doctor.
Other causes of bleeding in early pregnancy-
- Cervical changes– Changes in the hormonal levels of the body during early pregnancy can cause alterations in the cervix. The blood supply to the cervix increases and it becomes tender. So, if you indulge in sex during pregnancy, it may cause bleeding from the cervix.
- Infections– Infections during pregnancy such as bacterial vaginosis, fungal infection, or a sexually transmitted can irritate the cervix and prone to inflammation. Bacterial vaginosis and urinary tract infections in pregnancy are common but if left untreated, they can be dangerous. Infections can often result in bleeding during pregnancy and otherwise also.
Note– If you contract any vaginal infection during pregnancy, do not go for self-medication. Always consult a doctor before consuming any medicine. Doing so will ensure that there is no side effect on you or your fetus’s health.
Bleeding in the Second and Third Trimester
Abnormal bleeding in later pregnancy can be more serious because it can hint a problem with the mother or baby. Visit immediately your gynecologist if you face any bleeding during your second or third trimester
Potential causes of bleeding in late pregnancy include:
Placenta previa (low-lying placenta)
Placenta previa occurs when the placenta sits low in the womb and partially or fully covers the opening of the birth canal. The placenta is usually set low during early pregnancy. But as the fetus grows and the uterus stretches, the placenta should come on the top of the uterus. But, sometimes, this may not happen and cause problems for the pregnant woman. In some cases, low-lying placenta results in heavy bleeding even before or during childbirth. Along with the bleeding, low lying placenta causes sharp or stinging abdominal pain.
It is an uncommon yet severe complication that can happen during pregnancy. The placenta detaches from the wall of the womb prior to or during labor and blood pools between the placenta and uterus. Placental abruption can be very dangerous to both the mother and baby. It causes heavy vaginal bleeding along with abdominal pain and continuous uterine contraction. It is not at all safe to let these symptoms of placental abruption untreated as it may risk the life of both the mother and baby.
Uterine rupture is a very rare and severe complication that occurs in about 1% of pregnant women. A scar from a previous C-section tear opens in pregnancy. Uterine rupture also causes heavy vaginal bleeding and may even result in disabling the mother physically and suffocate the fetus. Uterine rupture can be life-threatening and needs an emergency C-section.
Vaginal bleeding late in pregnancy may just be a signal that your body is getting ready to deliver. A few days or weeks ahead of labor starts, the mucus plug that covers the opening of the uterus will pass out of the vagina, and it will generally have a little amount of blood in it.
In some cases, preterm or premature labor (week 20 to week 37 of pregnancy) results in premature birth. Premature births are can cause problems in the development of the baby.
Other causes of bleeding in late pregnancy-
- Injury to the cervix or vagina- In case of a traumatic experience such as an accident can result in cervical or vaginal bleeding.
- Polyps (uterine polyps, vaginal polyps)- Uterine polyps are the overgrown cells attached to the inner lining of the uterus. The most common symptom of uterine and vaginal polyps is abnormal bleeding.
Self Care Tips for Bleeding During Pregnancy
There is no specific treatment to prevent bleeding in pregnancy. In most cases, bleeding in pregnancy is not something to worry about. But if you have heavy bleeding, accompanied by cramps, abnormal vaginal discharge, or pinkish bloody-discharge, it can be a sign of a miscarriage. Notify your doctor in such cases and seek immediate medical help.
As vaginal bleeding in any trimester can be a sign of a problem, call your gynecologist immediately. You must expect to get an ultrasound to identify the underlying cause of your bleeding. Do not delay in seeking doctor’s advice when you face any of the above-mentioned problems. Timely medical help from your gynecologist will make sure that you have a safe pregnancy. Consult a gynecologist to rule out any risks or eliminate any doubts regarding your pregnancy.
It is normal to feel worried or panic about noticing blood on your underwear while you are pregnant. Worrying about such a thing is fairly normal but make sure to consult a doctor to the soonest. Consult a gynecologist online and tell them about the symptoms you are noticing. Remember that your body is going through enormous bodily and hormonal changes during pregnancy. Speaking to your doctor about your symptoms and sharing how you are feeling can help rule out risks of major complications.