Bleeding During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a joyful time, but it can also be a time filled with worry and concern for many women. Noticing spotting during pregnancy can set off alarm bells for many pregnant women. Is it a sign of problems? Is it your period, which many women swear they continue to get all through their pregnancy? Or is it something completely different? Bleeding during pregnancy can be cause for concern but it can also be normal. So how do you know when to call your health care provider?
Periods During Pregnancy
Many women notice bleeding or spotting throughout their pregnancy, particularly during their first trimester. This is a fairly common occurrence, with about 10% of all women experiencing some type of light bleeding during pregnancy. This bleeding, though, is not the same as getting your period.
During pregnancy, your body is focused on nurturing your baby so your brain sends signals to your uterus not to menstruate. Most of the time, light bleeding during pregnancy is normal and doesn't present a danger to you or your baby. However, there are some risks associated with bleeding, especially in later stages of pregnancy. If you are pregnant, it is important to be aware of the factors that can cause bleeding, and the symptoms to watch out for.
Bleeding During Early Pregnancy
Bleeding during early pregnancy is fairly common, with about 1 in 4 women experiencing symptoms during their first trimester. If you are early in your pregnancy and have noticed some vaginal bleeding, you may think you have gotten your period. This blood is not your period, but, in fact, is due to some other cause.
Some women will notice light bleeding about 10 to 14 days after fertilization. This is called implantation bleeding, and is caused by the egg implanting itself in your uterus. As the egg finds a home for itself in your uterus, it may disrupt the lining just a little bit, causing light bleeding. This bleeding should only last a couple of days and be fairly light. Implantation bleeding is nothing to worry about, but if it gets heavy at any time, or continues longer than a couple of days, see a doctor.
Should You Worry?
During early pregnancy, your cervix changes in order to accommodate your new baby. Your body will provide increased blood flow to your cervix, and sometimes this can result in light bleeding. If your cervix is inflamed slightly during intercourse or a pelvic exam, spotting or bleeding may occur. Again, this is normal and does not necessarily mean that your baby is in any trouble. If your bleeding is abnormally heavy or lingers for more than a few days, your doctor will wan to determine the cause.
Bleeding in the first trimester can sometimes be a signal that there is a problem with your baby. 15% to 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriages. Miscarriages most commonly occur within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Bleeding or spotting could be symptoms of a miscarriage, especially if they are associated with cramping, fever, or chills. If you think you are having a miscarriage, or are unsure why you are bleeding, contact your doctor or midwife. Your health care provider will be able to perform a pelvic exam to determine your baby's situation.
Sometimes bleeding during early pregnancy can signal a more serious problem with your baby. Ectopic pregnancies occur in 1 out of every 60 pregnancies, and can be life-threatening to both mom and baby. Serious internal bleeding can occur with ectopic pregnancies, so if you are experiencing heavy bleeding, or bleeding with pain, go to the hospital.
Bleeding During Late Pregnancy
Bleeding can also occur during your second trimester and third trimester. Again, this bleeding is not your period, but is a result of other causes.
Bleeding may be a sign of early or preterm labor. If accompanied by contractions or cramps, go to your doctor to find out what's going on. Miscarriage, or stillbirth, is still a possibility at the later stages of pregnancy, however it is less likely. If you are bleeding a lot, see your health care provider or go to the hospital just to be sure. More often, bleeding in the second and third trimesters is caused by an infection in your cervix.
Yeast infections and some sexually transmitted diseases can inflame the cervix causing light spotting or bleeding. Your health care provider can perform a simple exam to determine the cause of infection. If you are experiencing bleeding during the later stages of pregnancy, try not to worry and remain calm. It is important to visit with your doctor or midwife to have a checkup and get to the bottom of any problems. Most bleeding can be solved without any harm to you or your baby.
Bleeding can be caused by a number of causes and is often no cause for concern. That being said, bleeding can also be a sign of a serious problem. Always let your doctor know if you notice any bleeding at all during any stage of pregnancy.