Bleeding During Pregnancy

Common reasons for bleeding while pregnant

Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy can be caused by many different things, some of which are serious and just cause to seek medical attention, others of which are nothing to worry about. Bleeding in early pregnancy is quite common, and while it might be scary at the time, rest assured that most women who experience spotting during pregnancy go on to deliver happy, healthy babies.

Regardless of whether or not you know the cause of your spotting, you should take the symptom seriously and have it checked out by a doctor. He or she will perform a pelvic examination and ask you questions about the nature of the bleeding, such as how much blood you passed and whether or not it was accompanied by pain.

Possible Causes of Bleeding During Pregnancy

The causes of bleeding while pregnant differ in the first half and the second half of your pregnancy. Complications that may cause spotting during early pregnancy, up to halfway through the second trimester, include ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy or miscarriage. However, it is more common for any spotting this early to be due to normal adjustments in your body, such as implantation bleeding (which occurs within two weeks of getting pregnant, as the fertilized egg lodges itself in your womb). Changes to your cervix as your pelvis expands can also cause bleeding, and many women experience light bleeding after sex while pregnant, since the cervix is more delicate. In other cases, no cause can be found for the bleeding.

In the second half of your pregnancy, bleeding is less common and more likely to indicate a serious problem. Complications that may cause bleeding include an abruption of your placenta, placenta previa, premature labor, or your cervix opening earlier than it's supposed to. In late pregnancy, heavy vaginal bleeding is typically caused by some type of abnormality or issue with your placenta, which you will have to have checked out right away.

When to Call Your Doctor

During the first trimester of pregnancy, you should call your doctor if bleeding lasts for 24 hours or longer, or is accompanied by symptoms such as chills, fever, cramps or stomach pain. If your bleeding is light and ceases within one day, tell your doctor about it during your next regularly scheduled appointment.

In the second trimester, you should call your doctor if your spotting lasts more than a few hours, is accompanied by contractions, or occurs alongside chills, nausea, cramps or fever.

During the final trimester of pregnancy, it is recommended that you call your doctor at once if you have any bleeding that happens prior to your 37th week of pregnancy. After the 37th week, it is normal to have some spotting, as this is a sign that the pregnancy is nearing its end, but any heavy bleeding is cause for concern and should be treated right away.

It's not easy to know when to worry, so if you're ever concerned about spotting or bleeding that seems heavy or continual, call your doctor to be safe.