Bleeding During Pregnancy; When to Worry

When should i worry?

Any type of bleeding during pregnancy can be nerve wracking.  Spotting occurs in a third of all pregnancies and usually poses no threat to the baby or mom.

A small percentage of pregnant women spot after intercourse while others bleed due to reasons that have nothing to do with your pregnancy, for example a tear in the vaginal wall may cause spotting.

Bleeding during pregnancy can indicate complications such as an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage and should not be ignored.

Bleeding during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy

Up to 40 percent of women experience vaginal bleeding during their first trimester. The American pregnancy association lists a number of possible causes for this bleeding;

  1. Hormonal changes
  2. Sexual intercourse
  3. Implantation bleeding as the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall
  4. Internal exam done by doctor
  5. Infections

Bleeding may however be caused by serious conditions such as;

  1. Chemical pregnancy; this happens when the egg is fertilized but does not get implanted in the uterus
  2. Subchorionic hemorrhage; this is defined as bleeding around the placenta. This type of bleeding usually resolves on its own but increases the risk of complications such as pre-term labor.
  3. Threatened miscarriage or imminent miscarriage; This is the spontaeous loss of the baby during the first 20 weeks of life. This bleeding is usually accompanied by cramps or abdominal pain
  4. Ectopic pregnancy;  This happens when the egg implants somewhere other than the uterus. It is usually called a tubal pregnancy and can be life threatening if not diagnosed
  • Call your doctor right away when you experience vaginal bleeding during pregnancy.
  • Give the doctor information on how you are feeling. Insist on being seen by the doctor if you feel faint, or have a fever.
  • Any bleeding that soaks a sanitary pad, is persistent or accompanied by pain should be examined immediately.

Bleeding during the last 20 weeks of pregnancy

Many of the risks of the first 20 weeks such as ectopic pregnancy diminish after  the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.  Bleeding during the 2nd trimester should be taken very seriously.  Common causes of bleeding include;

  1. Cervical check by the doctor
  2. Sexual intercourse
  3. Placenta previa; this happens when the placenta partially covers the cervix
  4. Placenta abruption; this is life threatening for both mother and baby. The placenta tears away from the uterus . It is a rare condition that affects less than 1 percent of women.
  5. Pre term labor; vaginal bleeding accompanied by pelvic pressure, diarrhea, contractions and back pain can have serious repercussions.

Ideally, any type of bleeding that occurs during pregnancy should warrant a phone call to the doctor. They will need to know the color, amount and timing of the spotting so be prepared to answer some questions.


Have you experienced spotting during your pregnancy?



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