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Bleeding During Pregnancy - Causes and Management

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During pregnancy, vaginal bleeding and spotting are common. Read this article to know its possible causes and management.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Richa Agarwal

Published At December 16, 2022
Reviewed AtFebruary 7, 2023

Is It Common to Have Bleeding During Pregnancy?

Bleeding during pregnancy can be concerning. There are numerous reasons why a woman may be bleeding or spotting during her pregnancy. Some are grave, while others are not. The pregnant woman must contact a healthcare provider so that the cause of the bleeding can be determined and treatment can be recommended.

During pregnancy, there is a distinction between bleeding and spotting (light bleeding). When a woman notices a few drops of blood in her undergarments she is said to be spotting. The blood will not fill the panty liner if she wears one. Spotting during pregnancy, particularly in the first trimester, is usually not a cause for concern. Bleeding is defined as a continuous flow of blood that is greater than a drop here and there. It is usually considered bleeding if she needs a pad to keep it from ruining her underwear. If she notices spotting or bleeding, she should contact her doctor. To determine the cause, they may want to examine her or perform an ultrasound. It is preferable to be overly cautious to ensure the health of both mother and child.

What Are the Causes of Bleeding During Pregnancy?

The following are some causes of bleeding during pregnancy-

First Trimester- Bleeding or spotting during the first trimester is common and does not always indicate a problem. The pregnant woman should not be worried. She should notify her healthcare provider of her symptoms.

Some of the causes of early pregnancy bleeding include-

  • Ectopic Pregnancy - When a pregnancy develops outside of the uterus (like in the fallopian tubes). It is potentially fatal.

  • Molar Pregnancy - When a fertilized egg implants in the uterus, but instead of a baby, a tumor forms.

  • Implantation Bleeding - This is when the fertilized egg implants in the uterine wall, causing light bleeding. This is considered a normal part of the early stages of pregnancy.

  • Subchorionic Hematoma - One of the membranes that surround the embryo inside the uterus starts bleeding. Subchorionic hematomas typically disappear on their own.

  • Miscarriage - Pregnancy termination before 20 weeks. It usually begins as light bleeding and progresses to heavier bleeding. It is sometimes accompanied by severe cramping.

  • Cervical Polyps - A noncancerous cervix growth that bleeds during pregnancy due to increased estrogen levels.

Second or Third Trimester - Bleeding in the second half of pregnancy is frequently linked to more serious conditions. The following conditions can cause bleeding in the second and third trimesters-

  • Miscarriage - A pregnancy loss after the 20th week. This is also known as a stillbirth.

  • Incompetent Cervix - When labor begins too early as a result of the cervix opening (dilating) too soon.

  • Preterm Labor - Delivering a baby before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Contractions, cramps, or rupturing membranes are some additional signs of preterm labor.

  • Placenta Previa - When the placenta completely or partially covers the cervix. It is uncommon after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

  • Bloody Show - Light bleeding accompanied by mucus that occurs near the end of the pregnancy. It could be an indication that the body is preparing for labor.

  • Placental Abruption - A rare condition in which the placenta separates from the uterine wall. This can be hazardous to both the mother and the fetus.

Other Causes - Sometimes bleeding occurs for no apparent medical reason. Other causes of pregnancy bleeding include-

  • Infection - Light bleeding can be caused by chlamydia, gonorrhea, and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or urinary tract infections (UTIs). These infections during pregnancy must be treated by a healthcare provider.

  • Sex - After sex, some women experience light bleeding. This is because the cervix becomes extremely tender during pregnancy.

  • Ultrasound or Pelvic Examination - Because the cervix is so sensitive, it can bleed after a pelvic exam or transvaginal ultrasound (due to increased hormones).

What Does Bleeding During Pregnancy Look Like?

Everyone's pregnancy bleeding will be different.

Some details to keep track of are as follows,

  • Blood color can be brown, pink, or bright red.

  • The consistency of blood can be smooth, thick, or liquid. It may or may not include blood clots.

  • Menstruation-like bleeding is not usually a symptom of pregnancy. Menstrual bleeding is a continuous flow of blood that lasts several days. If a pregnant woman experiences more than light bleeding (spotting) or if the bleeding lasts more than 24 hours, she should contact her healthcare provider immediately. Although bleeding is not always a sign of something wrong, heavy bleeding or bleeding accompanied by pain may indicate a complication.

  • Quantity of blood.

All of these details can assist a healthcare provider in determining the level of care required and the severity of symptoms. Because bleeding at any point during pregnancy can indicate a problem, it is always a good idea to contact the doctors as early as symptoms occur.

How Is Bleeding During Pregnancy Managed?

To determine the cause of the bleeding, the healthcare provider will use ultrasound and a physical examination. They may request blood or urine tests, as well as additional imaging tests such as an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Relaxing and staying off the feet are two treatments for vaginal bleeding during pregnancy. It is also recommended to avoid sex and traveling. Take bed rest. If the bleeding is severe, the pregnant woman may need to be hospitalized or have surgery.

If the pregnant woman experiences any of the following symptoms, she should contact her doctor or reach an emergency room right away.

  • Heavy bleeding.

  • Contractions or cramping.

  • Pelvic pain or abdominal pain.

  • Feeling dizzy or faint.

  • Chills or fever.

  • Water breaking or any other sign of preterm labor.

Conclusion:

There are numerous causes of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy. Some are serious, while others are not. Bleeding or spotting can occur in any trimester of pregnancy. Early pregnancy bleeding is common. In many cases, it does not indicate a major issue. Later in pregnancy, bleeding can be more serious. If a pregnant woman experiences bleeding at any point during her pregnancy, she should contact her obstetrician-gynecologist.

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Dr. Richa Agarwal
Dr. Richa Agarwal

Obstetrics and Gynecology

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