Bleeding During Pregnancy

September 23, 2011



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Bleeding during pregnancy can be very frightening, but is not always problematic. Most women who experience bleeding during pregnancy will give birth to a healthy baby.

Causes of Bleeding in the First Trimester:

  • Implantation- You may experience some light bleeding early in pregnancy, maybe 10 to 14 days after fertilization. This is generally the result of implantation bleeding, which occurs when the embryo attaches to your uterine lining. Implantation bleeding is generally more like spotting and lighter in color than the blood you have during your period. Some women have light bleeding in place of their period and don’t know that they are pregnant.
  • Ectopic pregnancy- An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg implants itself outside of the uterus. Most of the time it will occur inside of a fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancy can cause bleeding and pain in the pelvic or abdominal areas as well as the rectum. If you have an ectopic pregnancy it requires immediate treatment with medication or surgery.
  • Cervical changes- Your cervix gets a lot more blood flowing to it during pregnancy. This can result in vaginal bleeding after stimulation of your cervix, such as occurs from sexual activity or a pelvic exam. This type of bleeding is not generally cause for concern.
  • Infection- If you contract an infection in your cervix during early pregnancy, it can result in bleeding. If you have an infection, your health care provider may prescribe antibiotics.
  • Miscarriage- Vaginal bleeding is the main sign of a miscarriage, however just because you are having bleeding, it is not necessarily an indication of a miscarriage. About 15 percent of pregnancies will end in miscarriage. If you are diagnosed with a miscarriage, you may elect for a procedure called dilation and curettage (D and C) in which your health care provider gently removed the tissues from your uterus and then scrapes the uterine walls.
  • Molar pregnancy- In very rare circumstances, a mass of tissue will form inside the uterus after fertilization in place of a baby. Bleeding from the vagina is often the first sign of a molar pregnancy. If you are diagnosed with a molar pregnancy, you will require a D and C.

If you have vaginal bleeding that continues for more than 24 hours, moderate or heavy bleeding, or bleeding that is accompanied by abdominal pain, cramping or fever, or if you pass tissue from your vagina contact your health care provider.

Causes of Bleeding in the Second Trimester and Third Trimester:

  • Preterm Labor- Signs of preterm labor include regular contractions, pressure in the pelvis, and backache. Light bleeding can be a sign of preterm labor.
  • Placenta Previa – Placenta previa is a condition where the placenta covers the opening to the cervix. It causes painless vaginal bleeding. Blood is usually bright red and can be light or heavy.
  • Miscarriage- Miscarriages occur most frequently during the first trimester. The main sign of miscarriage is bleeding.
  • Cervical problems- An infection or inflammation of the cervix may cause bleeding. Bleeding can also be a sign of incompetent cervix. If you have an infection of the cervix you may be treated with antibiotics.
  • Placental Abruption – Placental abruption is when the placenta separates from the inner wall of the uterus before the onset of labor. Placental abruption can cause bleeding, back pain, abdominal pain, uterine or pelvic pain, and contractions.
  • Rupture of the Uterus- In very rare circumstances the uterus can tear open along the scar from a prior C-Section. This causes vaginal bleeding and severe abdominal pain. If you have a uterine rupture, you will need to have an emergency C-Section.
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