What Are The Most Common Causes Of Bleeding In The Second Or Third Trimester
Bleeding in the second half of pregnancy is often associated with more serious conditions, so contact your healthcare provider immediately so they’re aware of your symptoms.
Some conditions that can cause bleeding in the second and third trimesters are:
- Placenta previa: When the placenta covers all or part of your cervix. Its rare after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- Placental abruption: A rare condition where the placenta detaches from the wall of your uterus. This can be dangerous for both you and your fetus.
- Preterm labor: Going into labor earlier than 37 weeks of pregnancy. Other symptoms of preterm labor are contractions, cramping or your membranes rupturing.
- Incompetent cervix: When the cervix opens too early and causes premature labor.
- Bloody show: Light bleeding mixed with mucus that occurs toward the end of your pregnancy. It can be a sign that your body is preparing for labor.
- Miscarriage: A loss of the pregnancy after the 20th week. This is also called a stillbirth.
Other Types Of Vaginal Bleeding During Pregnancy
If you experience vaginal bleeding during what you think is early pregnancy, it could simply be that it is your period and you are not actually pregnant. Sometimes, it can be tough to tell the difference between the light spotting associated with early pregnancy and a light period. Remember, menstrual bleeding can come with abdominal cramps and may appear as a dark red or brownish discharge, as opposed to spotting, which is often painless and light pink in color.
During early pregnancy, there are times when light spotting or heavier bleeding can be a warning sign you should not ignore. That’s why it’s always safest to mention any bleeding to your healthcare provider, especially if it’s a heavy flow.
Heavy bleeding during early pregnancy can sometimes be caused by:
During early pregnancy, a little light spotting might seem scary. It’s reassuring to know that it’s often normal and nothing to worry about, but your healthcare provider will be able to completely put your mind at ease.
In the meantime, you can download our go-to Pregnancy Guide that’s full of information about pregnancy health, nutrition, fitness, and more.
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Is It Normal To Have Spotting During Pregnancy
A little light bleeding or spotting during pregnancy is common, especially in early pregnancy. Up to one in four pregnant women have some light bleeding in their first trimester. But even if the bleeding seems to have stopped, call your doctor, just to make sure everything is okay.
Spotting or light bleeding in pregnancy is probably from something minor. But it could also be a sign of a serious problem, such as an ectopic pregnancy, a miscarriage, or an infection.Your doctor may want to do some tests, which can include a physical exam, an ultrasound, and blood tests, to check how well you and your baby are doing and to rule out any complications.If you’re actively bleeding or you have severe pain and can’t reach your doctor, head to the emergency room right away.
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What Does Red Spotting Mean
There are two types of red blood that you may encounter:
- The first looks similar to the image of blood above: It’s bright red and relatively thin. If you’re experiencing this type of bleeding, chances are that you’re going to be okay . You should still go in for a check up, but the chances are that you’ve gotten a scratch somewhere, especially if you’re only spotting. This is more normal than you might think.
- The other type of red blood is the type that you can worry about. This blood is darker, more like the color of your menstrual fluid, and may be mixed with some tissue. If you’re seeing this type of bleeding, your doctor will probably want to see you straight away.
Other Causes Of Pink Discharge During Pregnancy
Pink discharge can also occur at other points during pregnancy for some other reasons:
- Tiny vaginal tears. If you get a bit rowdy in bed with your partner, small vaginal lacerations can cause bleeding or pink discharge.
- An ovarian cyst that has burst.Ovarian cysts, another culprit, are fluid-filled sacs that form on one or both of a womans ovaries. Sometimes they can rupture during pregnancy and cause bleeding or spotting, but its not usually a cause for concern. Most practitioners will just monitor the situation and wait for it to resolve on its own.
- Leaking amniotic fluid. A slow leak may cause a little wetness or pink discharge here and there. If youre not sure whether your water broke, call your doctor.
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Seeing Your Gp About Spotting
Your GP will ask you about your bleeding.
They may ask you:
- when your last period was
- how many weeks pregnant you are
- if it’s your first pregnancy
- what the bleeding or spotting is like
- if you have any other symptoms such as stomach pain or dizziness
Be honest with your GP. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Tell them about the colour, any clotting, and how heavy the bleeding was. Be as graphic as you need to. Remember, your GP sees people with personal issues like bleeding all the time.
What Your Doctor Will Look For
A quick examination can usually tell your doctor what is causing your bleeding. You may need:
- Doppler ultrasound exam
Your doctor will likely also look at pregnancy markers. A blood test looks at your hormone levels. The main hormone in pregnancy made by the placenta is human chorionic gonadotropin .
Too much hCG can mean:
- twin or multiple pregnancy
Low levels of hCG may mean:
- ectopic pregnancy
- possible miscarriage
- abnormal growth
Scans can show where the developing baby is and how its growing. The babys size can be measured on an ultrasound. The heartbeat can be checked with the ultrasound or Doppler scan as early as five and a half weeks of pregnancy. All these checks can reassure you and your doctor that everything is just fine.
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If You’re Not Pregnant What Could The Spotting Be
Now you have the answer to your question, “Does spotting mean pregnancy?” You may have also understood that spotting doesn’t always mean pregnancy and there can be some other factors behind light bleeding before period, such as cervical polyps, ectopic pregnancy, the irritation of cervix and even the miscarriage. So, if you don’t experience any of the signs mentioned previously and your pregnancy test is negative, you should consult your healthcare provider to find out the exact cause of spotting and treat it as early as possible.
When To See A Doctor
People should speak with a doctor about any bleeding early in pregnancy. While the bleeding may be harmless, it is impossible to diagnose its cause without blood work, an ultrasound, or other diagnostic tests.
Bleeding from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy can endanger the life of the pregnancy carrier. While many pregnancy losses pass on their own, some require treatment to prevent excessive bleeding and infection.
If a person experiences light bleeding at any time, they should contact a midwife, doctor, or another healthcare professional.
A pregnant person should also visit an emergency room if:
- they develop a fever
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Frequently Asked Questionsexpand All
Late in pregnancy, vaginal bleeding may be a sign of labor. If labor starts before 37 weeks of pregnancy, it is called preterm labor. Other signs of preterm labor include the following:
Change in vaginal discharge or increase in amount of vaginal discharge
Pelvic or lower abdominal pressure
Constant, low, dull backache
Mild abdominal cramps, with or without diarrhea
Regular or frequent contractions or uterine tightening, often painless
How preterm labor is managed is based on what is thought to be best for your health and your fetuss health. In some cases, medications may be given. When preterm labor is too far along to be stopped or there are reasons that the baby should be born early, it may be necessary to deliver the baby.
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Copyright 2022 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. All rights reserved. Read copyright and permissions information.This information is designed as an educational aid for the public. It offers current information and opinions related to women’s health. It is not intended as a statement of the standard of care. It does not explain all of the proper treatments or methods of care. It is not a substitute for the advice of a physician. Read ACOGs complete disclaimer.
Is Spotting During Early Pregnancy The Same As Implantation Bleeding
While many sources call spotting in early pregnancy âimplantation bleeding,â there is not strong evidence that this bleeding is associated with an embryoâs implantation in the uterus.
Bleeding in early pregnancy may actually be related to hormonal changes, as the production of progesterone switches from the ovary to the forming placenta .
How Are Bleeding And Spotting Treated
Your treatment depends on what caused your bleeding. You may need a medical exam and tests. Most of the time, treatment for bleeding or spotting is rest. Your provider may also suggest treatments like:
- Take time off from work and stay off your feet for a little while
- You may need medicine to help protect your baby from Rh disease. Rh disease is when your blood and babys blood are incompatible . This disease can cause serious problems even death for your baby.
- If you have heavy bleeding, you may need a hospital stay or surgery
Last reviewed: April 2020
Experiencing Spotting Or Bleeding During Your First Trimester Heres What You Need To Know
Light bleeding during the first trimester is common. In fact, about 20 percent of women experience it, so if its happening to you, dont worry everything is probably fine.
However, bleeding can sometimes be a sign of something serious, so its important to know what to look for and when to seek medical help.
Can I Take Pain Relief Medication During Pregnancy
If you find that you need to take pain relief medication to relieve any pain, it is safest to use something simple such as paracetamol. Drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen should be avoided. If you find that you need a stronger pain relief medication, you must always check with your doctor, nurse or midwife first.
What Is Pregnancy Spotting
Whilst its not exactly normal, light bleeding or spotting during pregnancy is fairly common. Usually it turns out to be caused by something minor, or is just one of those things. Some mums do experience light spotting throughout their pregnancy and their baby is fine. Its really important you monitor any pregnancy discharge, and keep your GP updated if you notice any bleeding during your pregnancy. If your discharge changes from a white or clear colour, causes any symptoms or has an unpleasant smell, get in touch with your GP.
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What If I Discharge More Than Blood
If something other than blood comes out, call your provider right away. Put the discharge in a jar or a plastic bag and bring it with you to your appointment.
Your provider will check to see if you are still pregnant. You will be closely watched with blood tests to see if you are still pregnant.
If you are no longer pregnant, you may need more care from your provider, such as medicine or possibly surgery.
What Will The Scan Tell Us
A scan can only tell us how your pregnancy is at that particular time. Unfortunately it is no guarantee that your pregnancy will continue successfully. If your symptoms persist or become worse, you must contact EPAU, midwife or your GP.
In later pregnancy ultrasound scanning is used to look more closely at the anatomy and organs of the developing baby. This is usually done between 18 21 weeks.
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Early Pregnancy Bleeding: What Causes It
The most common causes of light spotting or bleeding during early pregnancy include:
Implantation. Some women have spotting even before they know they’re pregnant, about a week or so after they ovulate. It’s called “implantation bleeding” because it happens when the fertilized egg burrows into the blood-rich lining of the uterus, a process that starts just six days after fertilization.
If you have a day or two of spotting in the week before your period is due, take a home pregnancy test. If the result is negative, wait a few days or a week. If your period doesn’t start when you expect it, try testing again.
Subchorionic hematoma. Also called a subchorionic hemorrhage, this kind of bleeding can happen when the outer layer of the amniotic sac separates from the wall of the uterus. Its usually harmless and stops on its own. Small collections of blood like this early on are typically harmless. But if the collection of blood is larger, it will take longer to reabsorb, or go away. This can raise the risk of miscarriage or preterm labor, so your doctor may want to check on it regularly with ultrasound.
Molar pregnancy. This rare complication happens when the placenta doesn’t develop properly, and it can’t sustain the embryo. A molar pregnancy can be serious, and it needs prompt treatment.
Infection. An infection can irritate or inflame your cervix and make it more likely to bleed, especially after you have sex. These are some of the infections that can cause bleeding:
Intercourse Or A Physical Exam
Speaking of pelvic exams, keep in mind that anything that might poke at or near the cervix can also irritate it and cause bleeding. Yes, this includes sex! This happens because pregnancy hormones may make your cervix along with many other things more sensitive than normal.
You might see bright red blood on your underwear shortly after sex or a physical checkup. Dont fret! The bleeding usually happens once and then goes away on its own.
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Am I Bleeding Or Just Spotting
There’s a difference between bleeding and spotting during pregnancy. Spotting is when you notice a few drops of blood in your underwear. If you put a panty liner on, the blood won’t fill it. Spotting during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, is usually not concerning. Bleeding describes a flow of blood that’s greater than a drop here and there. If you need a pad to keep it from ruining your underwear, its usually considered bleeding. Call your healthcare provider if you experience spotting or bleeding. They may want to examine you or perform an ultrasound to determine the cause. Its better to be overly cautious to ensure you and your fetus are healthy.
What Are The Signs Of Early Miscarriage
Early miscarriage refers to loss of a pregnancy in the first trimester. The majority of early miscarriages occur before the pregnancy is 10 weeks gestation. Some miscarriages happen very early, even before a woman is sure she is pregnant. Still, miscarriage can be a hard and sad experience, no matter when it occurs.
Miscarriage is more common than many people realize. About 10 to 20% of women who learn they are pregnant will have an early miscarriage. The rates of early miscarriage are even higher when women are checking home pregnancy tests very close to the time of their period and are finding a positive test VERY early. By chance alone, 1% to 4% of women will have two miscarriages in a row. However, it is very rare to have 3 or more miscarriages in a row, which is recurrent miscarriage.
In medical terms, early miscarriage is called an early pregnancy failure. This means that the pregnancy failed to develop. Almost all early miscarriages are due to circumstances beyond anyones control, and were destined to happen before the woman even knows she is pregnant.
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Treatment For Vaginal Bleeding
Most of the time, the treatment for bleeding is rest. It is important to see your provider and have testing done to find the cause of your bleeding. Your provider may advise you to:
- Take time off work
- Stay off your feet
- Not use tampons
Very heavy bleeding may require a hospital stay or surgical procedure.
Pregnancy Bleeding After 20 Weeks
Although the risk of pregnancy loss diminishes greatly after the first trimester, and many of the early complications are no longer a factor , bleeding during the second half of pregnancy should be taken seriously, especially if it’s ongoing, Dr. Stephenson-Famy says.
Causes for vaginal bleeding in the second half of pregnancy include:
- Sexual intercourse
- Cervical checks, especially late in the third trimester when they commonly become more frequent
- Placenta previa, which is when the placenta covers the cervix either partially or completely
- Placental abruption, which is when the placenta starts to come away or fully comes away from the wall of the uterus
- Preterm labor, in which vaginal bleeding is accompanied by cramping or contractions, diarrhea, pelvic pressure, or back pain before 37 weeks, could have serious repercussions for the baby if not managed. After 37 weeks, these symptoms could be a normal start to labor.
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