It’s natural to feel worried if you find yourself bleeding during pregnancy, even though many people will tell you not to worry. Remember that it’s important to stay calm and talk to your doctor if you experience any bleeding during pregnancy.
But don’t worry, bleeding or spotting (small amounts of blood) can have many causes and doesn’t necessarily mean you are miscarrying.
Around 30% of all pregnant women will experience some blood loss during their pregnancy, most often during the first trimester. This is actually quite common and nothing to worry about.
Some women have implantation bleeding which can be mistaken for a regular period. Others can bleed throughout the pregnancy, but it doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. Many women go on to have healthy babies even if they experience bleeding during pregnancy.
All incidents of bleeding, no matter how heavy or light, should be reported to your doctor or midwife as soon as possible.
There are many common reasons for bleeding during pregnancy, including:
A fertilized egg holds the potential to grow into a baby if it implants itself within the lining of the uterus. This process is called implantation and can cause light spotting or streaks of blood. This may be mistaken for a period, but is usually only for a couple of days and has brighter colored blood than menstrual bleeding.
Breakthrough bleeding can occur during weeks 4, 8 and 12 of pregnancy and is often mistaken for a woman’s regular period. It can be accompanied by back pain, cramps, feeling bloated or having a heavy sensation in the pelvic region. This usually happens when a woman’s hormone levels are not yet high enough to stop their periods despite being pregnant.
It is atypical for a woman to experience menopause beyond the three-month mark. From that time onwards, the placenta rather than the ovaries controls hormone production.
Threatened or Actual Miscarriage
One in three pregnancies unfortunately ends in miscarriage, with most happening in the early days before a woman is even aware of her pregnancy.
Bleeding is a common sign of miscarriage, though it may also be accompanied by cramping, backache, and stomach pains.
Bleeding After Sex
Bleeding after having sex is a common and harmless occurrence that is most often caused by an increase in blood flow to the cervix as well as the softening of the cervix itself.
Ectopic pregnancies are when the fertilized egg implants itself outside the uterus and can cause bleeding. However, there are usually other symptoms such as strong cramps down one side of the abdomen, or a general pain and feeling faint and nauseous.
An ectopic pregnancy can cause the fallopian tube to rupture, resulting in internal bleeding. If this occurs, emergency surgery will be needed.
Placenta praevia, or an abnormally placed placenta, can cause bleeding in about two percent of women.
About one in every 200 pregnant women experience placental abruption, which is when the placenta partially or completely separates from the wall of the uterus.
If you experience any vaginal bleeding while pregnant, it’s important to check with your doctor or midwife as soon as possible.