Bleeding During Pregnancy: Everything You Should Know

Of all the things that you expect from the first trimester of pregnancy, vaginal bleeding or spotting is not one of them. When you look up early signs of pregnancy, most people and forums will tell you that a missed period is often a pretty sure indicator of pregnancy. In fact, you don’t get any periods in the duration of pregnancy. So, when you first experience spotting during pregnancy, it might make you unsure and nervous. Many women also start worrying about preventing possible miscarriage

All this confusion and tension due to the lack of proper information about bleeding during pregnancy can take a toll on your health. It is a very delicate time in your life and you should eliminate as many causes for concern as possible. To put your mind at ease, here are some details and facts about bleeding in early pregnancy.

What is Spotting during pregnancy?

The simplest description of spotting is a pink, red or brown discharge during pregnancy. This discharge is actually often period-like bleeding during early pregnancy. Since it is actually not a menstrual blood-flow, the bleeding is mild and doesn’t have all the other usual symptoms of menstruation. You can deal with such brown discharge during pregnancy with simple panty liners if everything is normal. If your bleeding during pregnancy is heavy, you need to contact your gynaecologist as soon as possible.

Causes for bleeding in early pregnancy

There are a number of causes for spotting during pregnancy and not all of them are bad or worrisome. Here are some of the most common ones:

1. Implantation Bleeding

When the embryo implants into the wall of your uterus, implantation bleeding occurs. Since the bleeding is very mild, it manifests as spotting. Those pregnant women who do experience implantation bleeding, most of these experiences this 6-12 days after conception. It is usually in the form of a minimal brown discharge during pregnancy that occurs randomly for around 3 days. After this time, it will subside on its own without causing you any further trouble.

Implantation bleeding among other pregnancy symptoms

2. Cervical Ectopy

This is a medical condition where the inner cells from the uterus or cervical canal start to invade the surface of your cervix (the cylindrical tissue that connects your vagina and uterus). Since these cells are of a more delicate build, they start bleeding with even the littlest irritation.

3. Miscarriage

The most common time for a miscarriage to occur is in the first 13 weeks. So bleeding during pregnancy 6 weeks or around can be due to miscarriage too. But bleeding due to a miscarriage does not happen alone, there are many other symptoms that together work as an indicator for miscarriage. Here are the main ones:

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Experiencing cramping and contractions
  • Mild to severe backache
  • Discharge of white-pink mucus
  • Tissue and clots passing through the vagina
  • Other pregnancy symptoms start to disappear. 

There is very little that you can do stop prevent a miscarriage once the process has started. You should go to the doctor for proper care during this time and get to know the reasons for miscarriage.

4. Ectopic Pregnancy

When the embryo implants itself in the walls of the fallopian tube instead of your womb, it is called an ectopic pregnancy. It is categorized under a medical emergency as your body can’t support a baby in this position, a definitive pregnancy complication. This can cause a lot of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy along with the following symptoms:

  • Fluctuating degrees of pain in the abdomen or pelvic region.
  • Increased rectal pressure.
  • A feeling of weakness, dizziness and often, fainting too.

Once you recognize all these symptoms, get in touch with your doctor to discuss how you will move forward in dealing with this medical emergency.

Depiction of normal pregnancy and ectopic pregnancy

5. Irritation of Cervix

Anything that causes irritation to the cervix is usually a pretty good cause for bleeding during pregnancy 6 weeks. This irritation can be due to a pelvic exam, a transvaginal ultrasound or even due to sexual intercourse. The increased sensitivity of your cervix is due to its vascular shape during pregnancy. Since such a reaction from the cervix is natural, there is no need to avoid the ultrasound, pelvic exam or intercourse.

6. Cervicitis

All the infections of the cervix can be called cervicitis and this is also another cause of period-like bleeding during early pregnancy. These infections can be due to sexually transmitted diseases like- genital herpes, gonorrhoea, chlamydia etc. Other times, there are some non-sexual reasons like bacterial vaginosis. Irritation or allergy from condoms and diaphragm can also be a reason for cervicitis, further causing brown discharge during pregnancy.

Gynecology concept. Young woman suffering from cervicitis

Causes for bleeding during pregnancy in later trimesters

Outside of the above-mentioned causes for bleeding in early pregnancy, there are some other causes for spotting in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. As you progress into the later months, your body goes through hormonal shifts and changes, not all of them very well understood by everyone. Many such changes take place in your reproductive tract and can be a cause for mild bleeding. Here are some of the more well-known causes of spotting during the later months of pregnancy:

  1. Placenta Previa

    The condition where the placenta is placed over the opening of your cervix is called Placenta Previa. One of the common symptoms of this is bleeding during pregnancy. If you are experiencing this, you need to get medical help.
  2. Abruption of Placenta

    The placenta separates from the uterine wall after the birth of your child in normal cases. But in placental abruption, the placenta is detached early and causes complications for baby development. It can cause either heavy bleeding or spotting during pregnancy.
  3. Vasa Previa

    Although it is a fairly rare condition, it can still be one of the causes of spotting. Here, your baby’s umbilical cord blood vessels are positioned near the inner opening of your cervix. Since these vessels are unprotected at large, a membrane rupture easily causes bleeding in pregnancy.
  4. Labor

    When a pregnant woman goes into labor, her cervix begins to dilate in preparation of normal birth. At this time, it is quite common to have vaginal bleeding.
Pregnant in labor who had spotting

Most Common FAQ About Bleeding In Early Pregnancy

When to consult your doctor?

Pregnancy is a time that your body is very sensitive and any change can affect you in many ways. So it is better to inform your doctor about bleeding in early pregnancy or any brown discharge during pregnancy as soon as possible. Once you tell them, they can identify the severity of your problem and whether you need to visit in person or not. Do not turn to self-medication if you are suffering because you have to be extra careful about drugs in pregnancy.

Not all pregnant women experience period-like bleeding during pregnancy but those who do are often very worried about what it means. Is it a miscarriage? Am I sick? Will I lose my baby? Despite getting to know more about spotting, it is not easy to not be stressed about it. So talk to your doctor and your loved ones if it helps you, even when it is a small matter. Because only when you are healthy in body and mind, can you have an equally healthy pregnancy!

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