Many a times, bleeding during pregnancy is normal. Spotting without pain before 12 weeks of pregnancy is usually not a very big concern but, it is always better to keep your doctor informed.
Reasons for bleeding in early pregnancy
The reasons for light bleeding and spotting during early pregnancy are:
Implantation bleeding –
When the fertilized egg embeds into the wall of the womb, it is called as implantation. This is usually when your period is due. Sometimes implantation bleeding happens after 8 weeks of pregnancy. Implantation bleeding usually lasts just for a day or two and is very light in color and normally looks like a spotting.
Changes in the cervix –
Pregnancy hormones can lead to some changes in the cervix making it softer and more prone to bleeding. This can be further provoked by sexual intercourse or a pelvic examination.
Vaginal Infection –
Any infection on the vagina can also cause mild bleeding which is also accompanied by abnormal vaginal discharge.
Complications during pregnancy
As mentioned earlier in the article, mild bleeding isn’t usually a cause of concern before 12 weeks of pregnancy but, sometimes it could mean that your pregnancy may have some complications. In any case, you need to consult your doctor immediately. Serious causes of bleeding during early pregnancy could be:
When a pregnancy ends before 24 weeks it is called a miscarriage. The symptoms are usually bleeding and back pain, stomach pain or cramping.
Ectopic pregnancy –
The fertilized egg implants itself outside the uterus, in the fallopian tube. This condition is known as an ectopic pregnancy. The symptoms to watch out for are bleeding, stomach pain on one side, pain at the tip of the shoulder and discomfort while passing urine or stools. One out of sixty pregnancies is an ectopic pregnancy. In some cases, blood transfusion and emergency surgery are required for this potentially life threatening situation.
Molar pregnancy –
In a molar pregnancy, the fetus doesn’t form properly in the womb and the baby doesn’t develop. The symptoms are bleeding, severe morning sickness and an unusually swollen tummy. There is an abnormal tissue growth in the uterus which consumes the fetus. Molar pregnancies can be diagnosed by an ultrasound.
Threatened miscarriage -
Symptoms of a threatened miscarriage are bleeding and mild cramping, but the cervix stays closed and the fetus is also developing. In many women, the bleeding stops after a few days and the pregnancy remains intact. For some, the bleeding continues, and they eventually have a miscarriage (i.e. spontaneous pregnancy loss).
Reasons of bleeding after 24 weeks
A lot of times light bleeding during the second trimester also doesn’t raise an alarm but, it is best to consult the doctor. There are 2 serious causes though which may cause bleeding in the second trimester. They are:
Placenta Previa -
The area wherever the placenta is attached typically stretches upwards from your cervix. A low lying placenta is the one where the placenta stays low in your womb, around or covering your cervix. This may block the baby’s way out. In most cases, this can be diagnosed seen in your routine ultrasound scans and you'll have an additional scan later during your pregnancy to ascertain if the placenta has moved up. If the placenta is still low in your womb you may bleed heavily during your pregnancy and your baby’s birth which can place you and your baby in danger.
Placental abruption -
This is a very serious condition in which the placenta starts to come away from the womb wall itself. It normally causes severe and unbearable stomach pain which lasts throughout as against normal contractions which increase and decrease. It may occur even if there is no bleeding. You need to contact your hospital maternity unit immediately if you are bleeding in late pregnancy.
One very important point to keep in mind is that whichever week you are in, it is always a good idea to consult your doctor if you notice or experience bleeding when you are expecting. The doctor will be the best person to decide if the situation is normal or it needs more medical attention.
Also read - When Does Implantation Bleeding Happen?