Common Worries in Pregnancy: Bleeding or Spotting

One symptom of pregnancy that many doctors don't have on their check list is the constant worrying that almost all of us pregnant women have. Worrying is what we do best! Throw in something as concerning as vaginal bleeding and you'll have one very concerned woman on your hands! Call your doctor if you have vaginal bleeding during your pregnancy. This page is not intended to give medical advice.

Vaginal Bleeding in Pregnancy

Spotting or having a light flow of blood early on in your pregnancy is actually very common. More often than not, it isn't something that should cause a great concern, but it is something that should be reported to your doctor.

Common causes of bleeding early in pregnancy:

Implantation bleeding
When a fertilized egg implants itself into the uterine wall, the disturbance of the uterine lining can cause light bleeding, appropriately called "implantation bleeding". Not all women will experience this. This usually happens before a positive pregnancy test and is often seen as a very small amount of old blood (brown).
Breakthrough Bleeding
Breakthrough bleeding is a name applied to multiple causes; however, the most common cause is a fluctuation of hormones (mainly oestrogen), which can encourage the cervix to redden or change shape and cause bleeding.
Ectopic Pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg implants itself into one of the fallopian tubes. This is also referred to as a tubal pregnancy. Bleeding with a tubal pregnancy will likely be accompanied with sudden, intense pain on either side of the lower abdominopelvic region. This is an emergency and you must get to a doctor ASAP!
Placenta Previa
Vaginal bleeding relating to placenta previa usually occurs in the last three months of pregnancy. If you have been receiving prenatal care, you likely will have had at least one ultrasound, usually after the 18th week of pregnancy. If you have had the regular ultrasound, your doctor or ultrasound technician should have caught on to a low laying placenta.
Placental Abruption (Abruptio Placentae)
This is a very rare condition where the placenta begins to detatch itself from the uterine wall. This is dangerous for both the mother and baby. The placenta is a sort of barier that exists between mom and baby - it exchanges blood through a series of vessels, so when the placenta detatches, it puts mom at risk for bleeding out and it puts baby at risk for not receiving oxygen and vital nutrients.
Possible Misscariage
When bleeding is moderate to heavy and is accompanied by severe cramping and/or diarrhea, it could be due to a misscariage.

Vaginal bleeding occurs in around 25% of all pregnancies. Anyone experiencing bleeding in their pregnancy should see their doctor ASAP. If the bleeding is a sudden onset, is accompanied by light headedness, or is accompanied by moderate to severe pain, go directly to the hospital or call 911.

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