When Not to Worry About Bleeding
Perhaps one of the most frightening occurrences for women expecting a baby is spotting or bleeding in pregnancy. Often, when it happens during the first trimester, it is not a serious issue. About 25 percent of women experience light bleeding early in their pregnancies and have no further problems. However, when it occurs in the second or third trimester it could signal a more significant condition. Regardless, if you are experiencing bleeding or spotting - no matter where you are in your pregnancy - visit your health care provider to be sure everything is okay.
There are several reasons for light bleeding during the early stages of pregnancy. Sex can cause light bleeding, as can an internal exam. It's a good idea to let your doctor know if you had sex prior to the time you began spotting or bleeding. An ectopic pregnancy can cause bleeding and is accompanied by cramps and pain in the abdominal area. Although heavier bleeding can definitely indicate a miscarriage, about 50 percent of women who have spotting during pregnancy do not miscarry.
What Causes Pregnancy Bleeding?
Other causes of bleeding in pregnancy, in the first trimester particularly include; cancer of the cervix, implantation bleeding, cervical infections and molar pregnancy. A molar pregnancy is a rare situation in which an abnormal mass forms inside the uterus after fertilization rather than a baby. If you have light spotting or light bleeding, let your healthcare professional know that day. If the bleeding continues throughout the day, call the doctor within 24 hours and if there is heavy bleeding, fever, abdominal pain and/or passing of tissue call your doctor immediately.
As the pregnancy develops and you enter your second and third trimesters, there are other possible causes for pregnancy bleeding beside a possible miscarriage. These conditions can be life threatening to both mother and baby, so if you experience any kind of bleeding during the mid and last terms of pregnancy, seek medical attention immediately.
Placenta Previa: Now It's Serious
During pregnancy the placenta develops and grows along with the baby. It is not uncommon for the placenta to sit at the bottom on the uterus, covering the cervix. As the pregnancy progresses, the placenta moves from the bottom of the uterus to a place close to the top, out of the way of the cervix. When the placenta remains at the bottom of the uterus, either fully or partially covering the cervix, it complicates the pregnancy. This condition is known as placenta previa. Placenta previa may occur in one of three forms:
· Marginal - where the placenta is close to the cervix but doesn't cover it
· Partial - where the placenta is covering a portion of the cervical opening
· Complete - where the entire cervix is covered by the placenta
Placenta previa happens in one out of 200 pregnancies. The risk factors include an abnormally developed uterus; a large or abnormal placenta; several previous pregnancies or multiples pregnancies; scarring of the uterus due to a c-section, surgery or an abortion. The primary symptom of placenta previa is vaginal bleeding that comes on suddenly, usually close to the end of the second trimester or the beginning of the third trimester. There may or may not be cramping along with the bleeding. The bleeding can be very severe and it can also stop by itself only to begin again within days or weeks.
Treating Placenta Previa
Treatment for placenta previa depends upon several factors. The amount of bleeding, the position of the placenta as well as the baby's position, whether you are in labor and whether the baby is developed enough to survive outside the womb are all considerations when determining how to proceed with treatment. Provided both you and your baby are not in imminent danger, the doctor may recommend that you reduce all activities and go on bed rest as well as pelvic rest, which means no sex, no douching and no tampons - nothing should enter the vagina. A hospital stay may be necessary to monitor you and your baby.
Depending upon how much blood was lost, you may need a transfusion. Medications to prevent an early labor and to help the pregnancy continue until at least the 36th week may be administered. If you are Rh-negative, the RhoGam injection, which prevents blood rejection and problems for either you or your baby, will be administered as well. A steroid shot to help the baby's lungs will be given contingent upon the length of gestation. After 36 weeks, the best treatment is often to deliver the baby.
You can read about other situations that cause bleeding in our article in this section.