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Bleeding During Pregnancy

Approximately 1 in every 3 women experiences such bleeding during the first trimester of their pregnancy. Although in most cases  it is nothing to be concerned about, you should know how much bleeding is normal and when to see a doctor. 

Through this article, you will learn about the possible causes, preventions, remedies, and symptoms of bleeding during pregnancy.

Pregnancy bleeding

Any bleeding, including a slight spot of blood from your vagina, during your pregnancy is not regular menstrual bleeding and can be referred to as pregnancy bleeding. 

What are the causes of bleeding during pregnancy?

The causes of bleeding during pregnancy do not vary much from one woman to another. Below, we discuss some common and most probable causes for this:

  • Women may witness light bleeding or spotting within the first 12 days of conception when they have not even figured out the pregnancy yet. Therefore, this bleeding, usually misinterpreted for a period, is in fact, due to implantation, which is when the fertilized embryo enters and adheres to the uterus. This bleeding may last from a few hours to a few days.
  • Miscarriage is also a probable cause for bleeding during pregnancy. Nonetheless, there is rare and has nothing to be worried about. 90% of women experiencing bleeding during the first trimester tend to have a healthy baby.
  • An ectopic pregnancy can also be a cause. This is when instead of the uterus, the fertilized embryo, implants in the fallopian tube, which can be serious. However, if yours is an ectopic pregnancy, it will be accompanied by more symptoms such as abdominal cramps, dizziness, vomiting, and an upset stomach. 
  • Placental abruption—this occurs when the placenta detaches itself from the wall of the uterus before or during the birth. The most common symptoms include back pain, vaginal bleeding or abdominal pain. Placental abruption can lead to severe complications if it is not detected early. The fetus may not get adequate oxygen and the pregnant woman may lose a large amount of blood.
  • Placenta previa: It is a condition where the placenta lies low in your uterus, which in turn, can cover the cervix partly or completely. This may result in vaginal bleeding. Such type of vaginal bleeding often happens with no pain. A few types of placenta previa resolves on their own by 32 – 35 weeks of pregnancy as the lower part of your uterus thins and stretches out. The woman’s labor and delivery can then be normal. If placenta previa is not resolving, you may have a cesarean birth.
  • Placenta accreta— placenta accreta is a condition where the placenta (or part of placenta) invades the uterine wall and is inseparable from it. The condition can lead to bleeding during the third trimester. Placenta accrete can also cause severe blood loss during delivery. A routine ultrasound exam can detect many cases during pregnancy. However, sometimes it is not discovered until after the child is born. If you have placenta accreta, then you are at risk of life-threatening blood loss during the delivery. 
  • Uterine rupture: Typical of second pregnancies, in rare cases, the scar of the previous C section may tear open and can cause bleeding. This is known as uterine rupture and can be dangerous for the mother. This will also be accompanied by many other symptoms instead of only bleeding.
  • Bleeding during late pregnancy can be a symptom of premature labor so it can simply mean that your body is ready for the delivery. However, if the bleeding is severe and happens before the 37th week of the trimester, you must contact your doctor right away.

When to see a doctor?

Light bleeding during pregnancy is normally not a cause of concern. However, if the bleeding is associated with or followed by lightheadedness, nausea, contractions, fever, abdominal pain, and chills and lasts longer than a few days, it is best to see a doctor.

If you have been advised already that your bleeding is normal and if it seems to get heavier, chances are that it may not be normal. Contact the doctor again to get immediate medical attention.

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How to prevent bleeding during pregnancy?

Although any form of bleeding during pregnancy can not be prevented, you should get regular blood tests. This can help your doctor detect your blood type and the level of pregnancy hormones and thus identify if there are any possible chances of bleeding rather than the usual spotting.

Along with this, regular vaginal exams may also help in the early detection of complications. 

Ultrasound scans are also helpful for detecting the probability of bleeding during pregnancy as they provide a full picture of the placenta and uterus. 

What are the possible remedies for pregnancy bleeding?

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Avoid intercourse if you have encountered bleeding once
  • If you face bleeding during pregnancy, it is better to use pads rather than tampons
  • See a doctor if your bleeding starts again after stopping once

What are the treatment options?

If the bleeding is light and does not last more than 1 or 2 days, you probably do not need any treatment, but that should be advised from your doctor.

If the bleeding is due to some other aforementioned causes, your doctor will decide the course of treatment. 

Conclusion

Bleeding during pregnancy is a common occurrence and may happen without any serious repercussions. However, the bleeding could also be a sign of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, uterine rupture, placenta previa, and other conditions that require immediate medical attention. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a molar pregnancy?

Ans: Molar pregnancy is of two types, partial molar pregnancy and complete molar pregnancy. The placental tissue is abnormal and swollen in a complete molar pregnancy. In addition, it appears to form fluid-filled cysts and there is no formation of fetal tissue. Whereas, there could be normal placental tissue along with abnormally forming placental tissue in a partial molar pregnancy. In addition, there can also be formation of a fetus. However, the fetus is not able to survive, and is generally miscarried early in the pregnancy.

What are the common problems that women experience in bleeding during early pregnancy?

Ans: The problems vary from a completely normal vaginal infection to a dangerous case of ectopic pregnancy or even miscarriage, which is a  possibility.

How can I identify if I am having an ectopic pregnancy?

Ans: Apart from vaginal bleeding, you will likely experience nausea, bloating, vomiting, cramping and pain in the lower abdomen, cramping in the pelvis especially in one side of the body if you have an ectopic pregnancy. 

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