Bleeding During Pregnancy
It can be frightening for a woman to experience bleeding when pregnant, but it is more common than many may think. A study has found that around 1 in 4 experience bleeding during a pregnancy, most of which occur during the first trimester with only 12% resulting in a miscarriage.
Although most women who experience vaginal bleeding go on to have perfectly healthy babies, heavy or prolonged bleeding could be an indication of something more serious.
Bleeding in the First Trimester
The most common sign of a miscarriage within the early stages of pregnancy is vaginal bleeding. Other signs include cramps in the lower pelvis and tissue passing through the vagina. Most miscarriages occur during the first trimester and are generally the main cause of concern for bleeding early on.
Implantation bleeding is another cause for bleeding in early pregnancy. This occurs when the fetus implants itself into the womb lining and can cause some light bleeding or spotting. This bleeding doesn’t tend to last more than a few days.
Bleeding during the first trimester could also signal an ectopic pregnancy. This is when the fetus begins to grow outside the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. Symptoms also include cramping and abdominal pain. Emergency medical care is needed if a fallopian tube ruptures in an ectopic pregnancy.
Another cause for bleeding is a rare condition known as the gestational trophoblastic disease in which the embryo does not develop properly and becomes an abnormal growth instead of a baby.
Bleeding in the Second or Third Trimester
Bleeding during the second or third trimester is less common and may be a sign of a more serious problem in the pregnancy, such as placenta previa, in which the placenta partially or completely covers the opening of the birth canal, or placental abruption, where the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus.
Placenta previa can be diagnosed from an ultrasound, and will mostly likely result with your baby being born by caesarean section. Treatment of a placenta abruption usually involves bed rest, close monitoring of the baby, or, in more serious cases, the early birth of your baby.
Minimizing Risk of Miscarriage When Bleeding
While there is no specific treatment to prevent vaginal bleeding or a miscarriage, there are steps that can be taken during and after bleeding to minimize the risk.
Getting plenty of rest in the early stages of pregnancy is recommended, and if you do experience minor bleeding, get complete bed rest for at least a few days. Also avoid any strenuous activity such as running, carrying heavy weight, or having intercourse, and make sure to stay well hydrated.
When To See A Doctor
See your doctor immediately or go to your nearest hospital emergency department if you experience any of the following symptoms when pregnant:
- Heavy bleeding or passing large clots, whether or not there is pain
- Severe cramping or pain in the abdomen
- Fever and/or chills
- Dizziness or fainting
- Unusual smelling vaginal discharge or discharge containing tissue
- Bleeding in the second half of your pregnancy
- Agnes Yoon