What Causes Spotting During Pregnancy
Implantation bleeding is a common cause of spotting early on in pregnancy. Implantation bleeding happens when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining. This can trigger a few days of light bleeding or spotting. This spotting occurs before a woman even knows she is pregnant and is often mistaken as a pending period. Bleeding that occurs after the day a woman expects her period is typically too late to be considered implantation bleeding, and is more likely related to early pregnancy in general.
Another common cause of spotting is a cervical polyp , which is more likely to bleed during pregnancy due to higher estrogen levels. This may occur because there is an increased number of blood vessels in the tissue around the cervix during pregnancy. As a result, contact with this area can cause bleeding.
Even without the presence of a cervical polyp, there are a few things that may cause some spotting in the couple days after:
- Sexual intercourse
- Gynecological exam, such as a vaginal ultrasound
- Heavy lifting/excessive exercise
Finding Out The Cause Of Bleeding In Pregnancy
To work out what is causing the bleeding, you may need to have a vaginal or pelvic examination, an ultrasound scan or blood tests to check your hormone levels.
Your doctor will also ask you about other symptoms, such as cramp, pain and dizziness. Sometimes it might not be possible to find out what caused the bleeding.
If your symptoms are not severe and your baby is not due for a while, you’ll be monitored and, in some cases, kept in hospital for observation.
How long you need to stay in hospital depends on the cause of the bleeding and how many weeks pregnant you are.
Being in hospital allows staff to keep an eye on you and your baby, so they can act quickly if there are further problems.
Find the answers to common health problems in pregnancy.
What Is Rh Incompatibility In Pregnancy
An important reason to see a doctor for any type of bleeding is the condition known as Rh incompatibility or Rh isoimmunization. “If a pregnant woman bleeds and her blood type is Rh negative, and the sperm source is Rh positive or unknown, then the woman has the potential of developing antibodies that can harm the baby who is Rh positive,” says Dr. Trolice. “This can result in severe anemia, jaundice, brain damage, and heart failure in a newborn.”
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Rh incompatibility can be treated with injections of Rh immune globulin. This medicine prevents your body from creating Rh antibodies that will harm your baby.
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Vaginal Infections During Pregnancy
If you have any infection during pregnancy, it may cause irregular bleeding. Some of the vaginal infection are:
- Vaginal scratching or itching
What to do if i have vaginal infection in pregnancy?
Inform your doctor ASAP. Most vaginal infections during pregnancy can be treated and cured. Your vaginal samples will be collected and tested before treatment.
If you fail to treat your infection when pregnant, you may have a miscarriage, bleeding or preterm delivery.
Heavy Bleeding During Pregnancy
If vaginal bleeding is heavy and if its accompanied by cramps, backache, and period-like discomfort, contact your hospital immediately.
Keep calm and remember, it is your blood youre seeing, not the babys blood.
Urgent medical assessment and intervention are important to ensure you and your baby are safe.
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Types Of First Trimester Bleeding
There are a number of reasons why people experience bleeding during the first trimester. Diagnosing first trimester bleeding usually requires a physical exam, a blood test, and/or sexually transmitted infection testing.
Repeated blood tests may be used to monitor the changing hCG hormone levels present during pregnancy to determine if the pregnancy is likely to be viable. The hormone progesterone and Rh factor may also be evaluated during the first trimester.
Types Of Second And Third Trimester Bleeding
With certain exceptions, bleeding during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy is more likely to be a concern. One major exception is light bleeding after vaginal intercourse. Changes in the cervix during pregnancy make it more likely to bleed. Therefore, light bleeding after intercourse is not necessarily a concern, but you should still contact your clinician if it occurs.
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First Half Of Pregnancy:
Miscarriage: Bleeding can be a sign of miscarriage, but does not mean that miscarriage is imminent. Studies show that anywhere from 20-30% of women experience some degree of bleeding in early pregnancy. Approximately half of the pregnant women who bleed do not have miscarriages. Approximately 15-20% of all pregnancies result in a miscarriage, and the majority occur during the first 12 weeks.Signs of Miscarriage include:
- Cramping pain felt low in the stomach
- Tissue passing through the vagina
Most miscarriages cannot be prevented. They are often the bodys way of dealing with an unhealthy pregnancy that was not developing. A miscarriage does not mean that you cannot have a future healthy pregnancy or that you yourself are not healthy.
Ectopic pregnancies are pregnancies that implant somewhere outside the uterus. The fallopian tube accounts for the majority of ectopic pregnancies. Ectopic pregnancies are less common than miscarriages, occurring in 1 of 60 pregnancies.Signs of Ectopic Pregnancies:
- Grape-like clusters are seen in the uterus by an ultrasound
A Molar Pregnancy Or Hydatiform Mole
This is a rare condition where the placenta is not normal and the pregnancy does not develop as it should. Abnormal cells develop in your womb.
A molar pregnancy is usually treated by a simple procedure. This removes the abnormal cells from your womb. You may have appointments afterwards with your obstetrician for blood tests and/or ultrasound scans. These are to make sure all the cells have been removed.
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What Other Problems Cause Bleeding During Early Pregnancy
Changes in the cervix: The normal hormone production during pregnancy can cause changes to the cervix, rendering it softer and more prone to bleeding. In addition, a cervical polyp may form, and this may bleed more easily during pregnancy. In both cases, spotting or light bleeding may be provoked following sexual intercourse or a pelvic examination.
Infection: A vaginal infection may cause spontaneous vaginal bleeding during pregnancy. The bleeding may be accompanied by an abnormal vaginal discharge.
Vaginal bleeding during early pregnancy may sometimes indicate a serious problem. Serious causes of bleeding in pregnancy include:
- Bleeding, abdominal pain, and back pain are common signs of miscarriage.
- An exam shows that the cervix is open.
- Tissue may be extruded through the cervix and vagina.
- A miscarriage occurs in an estimated 15% to 20% of pregnancies, usually during the first 12 weeks of gestation.
- A genetic defect confined to the specific embryo in question represents the most common cause of miscarriage.
- Few circumstances exist wherein a miscarriage in progress can be prevented.
When Should I Go To The Doctor For Spotting Or Bleeding During Pregnancy
If youre at all concerned, don’t hesitate to talk to your physician. Heavy bleeding at any point in pregnancy should be reported to the doctor immediately, but spotting or light vaginal bleeding during the first trimester that goes away in a day or so can be brought up at your next prenatal checkup.
At this appointment, your doctor may order a blood test to check hCG levels or perform an ultrasound to check and see that your pregnancy is progressing.
But bleeding during the second trimester, even if its not much to see, should be discussed with your health care provider the day it happens. And if you spy blood during the third trimester, get in touch with your doctor right away.
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Will Bleeding During My Pregnancy Affect My Baby
The effects of bleeding during your pregnancy depend on many factors. The cause of the bleeding and whether it is treatable is the most important issue.
Early pregnancy bleeding
The definite rate of miscarriages after vaginal bleeding in early pregnancies are difficult to estimate as a significant percentage of pregnancies miscarriage without any specific symptoms prior to the miscarriage.
Late pregnancy bleeding
Placenta Previa: The risk of maternal death is less than 1%, but other complications, such as massive hemorrhage requiring a blood transfusion or a hysterectomy, can also occur.
- Rarely, the placenta attaches abnormally deep into the uterus. This is called a placenta accreta, increta, or percreta, depending on the depth. Many women who have this condition have such massive bleeding that a hysterectomy is required to save the woman’s life.
- Up to 8 of every 100 babies with placenta previa die, usually because of premature delivery and lack of lung maturity. Other problems for the baby include size smaller than expected, birth defects, breathing difficulties, and anemia requiring blood transfusion.
Placental Abruption: The risk of maternal death is low, but major blood loss may require transfusions.
Uterine Rupture: This is a very dangerous condition for both the woman and the baby.
How To Know When Spotting Or Bleeding During Pregnancy Is Serious
Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy is not uncommon, but it’s also usually not normal. It can indicate many things, depending on whether it’s heavy or light, how long it lasts, what color it is, and at what point in the pregnancy it occurs. Signs that bleeding is due to serious conditions such as miscarriage, problems with the placenta, or preterm labor, include heavy bleeding , bleeding in conjunction with cramps and/or fever, or bleeding and passing some tissue. The color of the blood is also important: Blood that’s bright red is usually more worrisome than blood that’s brownish.
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Can Bleeding Indicate A Miscarriage
Not all bleeding in pregnancy is harmless, and it can be the first sign of a miscarriage. As many as 1 in 5 pregnancies are thought to end in miscarriage. The cause of miscarriage is not always known, but researchers have shown that in some cases there is a problem with the developing pregnancy, which means it is unable to develop normally. For most women, miscarriage is a very sad and upsetting experience.
Experiences of miscarriage vary. In some cases there may be only very slight spotting, in other cases bleeding may stop and start or heavier bleeding with clots and cramping period type pains can occur. Sometimes there may be no bleeding at all.
For further information relating to miscarriage, please ask your nurse for further details.
What Are The Symptoms Of Decidual Bleeding
This type of bleeding usually appears as spotting or bleeding that can be comparable to menstrual-like bleeding. As such, it is often confused for a period. Blood clots may be passed, and there may be small pieces of uterine lining present. This can cause some confusion as women may mistake this as a symptom of a miscarriage.
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What If Im Experiencing A Miscarriage
If youre experiencing a miscarriage, unfortunately, nothing can prevent it from occurring if youre not yet 20 weeks.
The important thing is to take care of yourself emotionally and physically. Be kind to yourself you arent responsible for a miscarriage happening.
If you experience a miscarriage, to feel more physically comfortable try:
- Paracetamol/Panadeine/Naprogesic to ease the cramps
- Hot water bottle or heat pack for your tummy
- Tea and support from your partner and others
You might feel the vaginal loss of the developing fetus and other tissue after that, the bleeding should settle and stop.
If you continue to bleed, you might need a surgical procedure called a dilation and curettage.
Your doctor can provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as well as counseling for your pregnancy loss.
What Causes Bleeding Or Spotting Later In Pregnancy
Bleeding or spotting later in pregnancy may be caused by:
- Having sex
- An internal exam by your health care provider
- Problems with the cervix, like an infection, growths, inflammation or cervical insufficiency. This is when a womans cervix opens too early. Inflammation of the cervix is when it may be painful, swollen, red or irritated.
Bleeding or spotting later in pregnancy may be a sign of a serious problem, like:
- Preterm labor. This is labor that happens too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
- Placenta previa. This is when the placenta lies very low in the uterus and covers all or part of the cervix.
- Placenta accreta. This is when the placenta grows into the wall of the uterus too deeply.
- Placental abruption. This is when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before birth.
- Uterine rupture. This is when the uterus tears during labor. This happens very rarely. It can happen if you have a scar in the uterus from a prior cesarean birth or another kind of surgery on the uterus. A c-section is surgery in which your baby is born through a cut that your doctor makes in your belly and uterus.
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What Questions Will My Doctor Ask Me About Bleeding During Pregnancy
Your healthcare provider may ask you several questions to find the cause of your vaginal bleeding and understand your symptoms. Some questions you may be asked are:
- Have you had vaginal bleeding in prior pregnancies?
- Have you had prior surgeries on your uterus or cervix?
- How heavy is your bleeding?
- Does the blood fill a panty liner?
- What color is the blood?
- Does the blood contain clots or tissue?
- Do you have any pain or cramping?
- Have you been exercising or standing more?
- Have you fallen lately?
- When did you last have sex? Did you bleed afterward?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Bleeding at any point in pregnancy can be scary. Sometimes bleeding during pregnancy is serious, but other times it isnt. Its important to contact your healthcare provider to discuss any vaginal bleeding you experience while pregnant. They’ll want to rule out any complications, find the cause of your bleeding and make sure you and your fetus are healthy.
What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor About Bleeding During Pregnancy
Bleeding during pregnancy can be scary. Its natural to have questions for your healthcare provider. Some questions to ask your provider are:
- Is spotting later in pregnancy normal?
- When should I be concerned about bleeding?
- How do I know if I am bleeding too much?
- Is my baby OK? Am I OK?
- Should I avoid having sex if I am bleeding?
- Do I need to reduce my activity if I’m bleeding?
- When should I go to the ER?
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What Are The Causes Of Abdominal And Back Pain
Some of the aches and pains experienced during pregnancy are thought to be due to hormonal changes. Large amounts of the hormone progesterone are produced, which are needed to sustain pregnancy. In addition to this, progesterone acts on the muscles, ligaments and joints causing them to become slacker and more flexible. This hormonal effect is thought to be responsible for some of the stitch like pains that some women experience in the lower part of the tummy and in some cases this can be quite severe. The same hormones can be responsible for constipation during pregnancy this can also cause abdominal pain.
The enlarging womb is made up of layers of muscles and is held in place in the pelvis by supporting ligaments. As the womb expands to accommodate the developing baby, it can pull on the ligaments and muscles, to cause these growing pains.
The backache that some women get in early pregnancy is also thought to be due to a hormonal effect, and the supporting muscles are softer.
Abdominal and/or backache can also be a sign of a urine infection. This may also cause burning or stinging when passing urine and the need to pass urine more frequently. You must inform your doctor of these symptoms, so that a urine test can be obtained and treatment given if needed.
What Does Vaginal Bleeding During Pregnancy Look Like
Bleeding during pregnancy can look different for everyone. Your healthcare provider will want to know what your blood looks like so they can evaluate your symptoms. Some details you will want to track include:
- The color of your blood: Your blood might be brown, pink or bright red.
- The consistency of your blood: Is it smooth, thick or watery? Does it contain clots?
- How much blood there is: Did you see a few drops? Or are you filling a pad?
All of these details can help your healthcare provider determine the level of care you need and how urgent your symptoms are. Because bleeding at any time in pregnancy could indicate a problem, its always recommended to call your provider.
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How To Stop Bleeding During Pregnancy
Is it possible to stop bleeding? Yes. However, some women can still lose their pregnancy with proper medical care.
- Did your spotting occur after intercourse?
- Do you see blood clots?
- Is your bleeding heavy and has continued for days or weeks?
- Do you feel severe abdominal pain?
- Is your body temperature high?
- Do you feel like fainting?.
- Is your discharge smelly or do you have pain in your vagina
- Do you feel clots or fetal tissue coming out?
Next: Get a thermometer and a panty-liner. Panty-liner prevents staining.
Check your body temperature, if high, then its probably due to an infection. You should inform your doctor.
Scanning In Early Pregnancy
An ultrasound scan is used during pregnancy for a number of reasons. In the first three months of pregnancy it can be used to check the presence of the babys heartbeat, which can be reassuring if you have experienced a problem, such as vaginal bleeding or pain. A scan will also be used to check to see if the pregnancy is in the correct place and to accurately predict the estimated date of delivery by measuring the end points of the embryo or fetus.
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