No matter how many people tell you not to worry, or how many articles and books you read on the subject, you are bound to feel concerned if you find you are bleeding during pregnancy.
But bleeding, or spotting (as small amounts of blood are called) can be due to many reasons and does not necessarily mean you are having a miscarriage.
Its actually quite common with around 30% of all pregnant women experiencing some blood loss, most often during the first trimester.
Some women bleed just once, others can bleed throughout the whole pregnancy on and off and still go on to have a perfectly healthy baby.
However, all incidents of bleeding should be reported to your doctor or midwife.
Here are some of the more common reasons for bleeding during pregnancy:
When a fertilised egg buries itself into the lining of the uterus it can cause light spotting or streaking of blood. This can be mistaken for a period, but usually only goes on for a couple of days and is brighter in colour than menstrual bleeding.
Breakthrough bleeding coincides with the times when your period would normally be due at weeks 4, 8 and 12 of pregnancy. It can be accompanied by back ache, cramps, feeling bloated or having a heavy sensation in the pelvic region. This usually happens when a womans hormone levels are not yet high enough to stop their periods despite being pregnant.
It is unusual for it to occur beyond the three month mark as from that time onwards the placenta controls a womans hormone production rather than the ovaries.
Threatened or Actual Miscarriage
It has been calculated that one in three pregnancies ends in miscarriage with most happening in the very early days, before a woman even realises she is pregnant.
Bleeding is a common sign of miscarriage along with cramping, backache and stomach pains.
Bleeding After Sex
Bleeding after sexual intercourse is a common cause of bleeding. It is caused by increased blood supply and softening of the cervix and is harmless.
An ectopic pregnancy (when the fertilised egg implants itself outside of the uterus) may cause bleeding, but there will usually be other symptoms too such as strong cramps down one side of the abdomen, or a generalised pain and feeling faint and nauseous.
An ectopic pregnancy can rupture the fallopian tube resulting in internal bleeding and an emergency operation will be needed.
An abnormally placed placenta can cause bleeding. This is called placenta praevia and it occurs in about two percent of women.
One in approximately 200 pregnant women can suffer from placental abruption when the placenta partially or completely separates from the uterus wall.
If you experience any bleeding while pregnant check with your doctor or midwife.