Bleeding During Pregnancy – What All You Should Know

Many women experience bleeding during pregnancy, especially during the initial phase. Is it normal? Do you need to worry? Well, while it may not be a serious issue in some cases, in others it calls for an immediate medical help. Bleeding may occur due to various factors, including miscarriage, cervical changes, vaginal infection and implantation..  Let us learn about the different causes of bleeding during pregnancy and understand when to raise concern with your doctor.

Bleeding during pregnancy

First Trimester Bleeding

Bleeding during first three months of pregnancy is often harmless, however you must know the reason behind the same and take an appropriate action, if required. Here are the possible causes.


The fertilized egg affixes to the uterus lining in the first 12 days after you conceive and many pregnant women may experience light bleeding during this time. Bleeding occurring during this phase is often mistaken as periods as this is almost the same time you are expecting your menstrual cycle though the pattern of bleeding is quite different.  Most women experience light bleeding or spotting that lasts for only couple of hours while others have it for a few days.

Changes in Cervix

A lot of extra blood rushes to the cervix during pregnancy. The cervix also becomes extremely tender and sensitive during this time. Undergoing a Pap test or indulging in intercourse may also lead to bleeding. Though bleeding occurring due to this reason may not be a cause of concern, it is recommended to strictly avoid intercourse during the first trimester.


Infection in the cervix, urinary tract, vagina and pelvic cavity may also cause bleeding. But it is a serious concern and you must consult a doctor to stop such infection from growing further.


Bleeding may even be a sign of miscarriage. Most of the miscarriages happen during this phase. If you experience any of the below mentioned symptoms coupled with bleeding, then consult your doctor immediately to ensure the well being of the life growing inside you:

  • Severe cramping in the lower abdomen – cramping which is much stronger than the one that occurs during menstruation.
  • Passing of tissue via vagina.

Molar Pregnancy

During this condition an abnormal tissue develops in the uterus instead of a baby. This condition is very rare and in the rarest of cases this tissue may be cancerous and might spread in the other body parts. In addition to bleeding, women may also experience enlargement of the uterus or severe nausea during molar pregnancy.

Ectopic Pregnancy

During this kind of pregnancy, the fertilized embryo affixes outside the uterus, mostly in the Fallopian tube. In many cases the embryo continues to grow and can lead to the bursting of the Fallopian tube. This can be life threatening. Here are some of the other symptoms you may experience in addition to bleeding during ectopic pregnancy:

  • Strong cramping in stomach and lower abdomen
  • Low hCG levels
  • Dizziness

bleeding in pregnancy

Second and Third Trimester Bleeding

While bleeding during the first trimester may not be a cause of serious concern in most cases, however, during the second and third trimester it can be indicative of warning signs for the mother or baby. Here are some of the possible causes of bleeding during the second and third trimester:

Uterine Rupture

Women who have gone through a previous C-section may experience uterine rupture, though the chances are extremely rare. This occurs in case a previous C-section tears during the later stages of pregnancy. One is required to undergo a C-section immediately in this case.

Placental Abruption

In certain cases the Placenta detaches from the uterus wall prior to or in between the labor leading to blood pool between the uterus and placenta. This is usually accompanied by clots in the vagina, back pain, tender uterus and abdominal pain and can be really dangerous for both mother and baby.

Women who are 35 years of age or older, complain of high blood pressure or already have children are more likely to face this problem.

Placenta Previa

This occurs when the placenta stoops low in the uterus and covers the birth canal opening to some extent or entirely. Though the bleeding occurring due to this reason may not be accompanied by cramps or any other kind of pain, but is quite dangerous and calls for immediate medical attention.

Those who have had a C- Section or some other uterus operation previously or are carrying twins or triplets stand a higher chance of incurring this problem.

Cervix Injury

Any kind of injury caused to the vagina or cervix may also cause bleeding during pregnancy. An inflamed cervix can also cause minor bleeding.

Vasa Previa

It occurs when the baby’s blood vessels cross the birth canal opening. This may cause tearing of baby’s blood vessels leading to severe bleeding and life threatening situation for the baby.

Premature labor

Bleeding during the third trimester may also indicate that your body is getting ready for the delivery. You may experience bleeding when you pass the mucus that seals your cervical canal during pregnancy. This usually comes as a vaginal discharge for a few days. You may also feel abdominal pain during this time. Having an intercourse during the last trimester may also disturb the mucus plug and lead to bleeding.

premature labor

Light Spotting Vs Bleeding – The Difference

Spotting may not be always bleeding. Light bleeding occurring due to implantation in the first trimester; intercourse; or losing the mucus towards the last semester is normal. Hence, there should nothing too much to worry about. However, if the flow of blood is comparatively abnormal or heavy or you experience extreme pain, then you must book an appointment with your doctor.

When Should You Call Your Doctor?

Whether you experience bleeding during the first trimester or the second or third, it is advisable to consult a doctor immediately to figure out its cause and begin the treatment, if required. Ensure that you monitor the colour, amount and frequency of bleeding to enable the correct diagnosis.

What Else You Should Do?

Though bleeding during pregnancy can be unnerving, stress and anxiety will only add to your pain and can make things worse. Hence, do not panic as bleeding may not always indicate any serious health hazard. Let your doctor guide you.

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