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Overview of Bleeding during Pregnancy: Meaning, symptoms, causes & treatment

Team AckoJan 17, 2024

Bleeding during Pregnancy (BDP) can be a concerning and scary experience for expectant mothers. While some bleeding is normal, it can also be a sign of a more serious condition that requires medical attention. Your body changes dramatically through the first trimester of pregnancy. Hence, it’s always important to consult with your gynaecologist if you experience any BDP to ensure the health and safety of both you and your baby. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for BDP.




What is Bleeding during Pregnancy?

Bleeding during Pregnancy is a medical condition associated with vaginal bleeding during the pregnancy term. Any bleeding, including a little patch of blood from your vagina, that occurs throughout your pregnancy is not considered normal menstrual bleeding and is commonly referred to as Pregnancy Bleeding.

Potential causes of Pregnancy Bleeding

Pregnancy Bleeding can occur for various reasons. Bleeding may be common during the first trimester; however, bleeding at any stage of pregnancy may indicate a problem or an underlying disease. It's always recommended to tell your healthcare practitioner about your symptoms so they can assess if the bleeding is caused by anything serious.

There are various causes of vaginal spotting or bleeding during the first trimester of pregnancy, which may include the following.

1. Implantation bleeding

Women may experience mild spotting or bleeding within the first 12 days after conception when they are not sure of the pregnancy. This bleeding, which is sometimes mistaken as menstruation, is actually caused by implantation, which occurs when the fertilised embryo enters and sticks to the uterus. This bleeding may linger from a few hours to a few days.

2. Miscarriage

If you encounter excessive bleeding with stomach cramps in the first trimester, it might indicate a miscarriage. The majority of miscarriages occur during the first trimester of pregnancy. If you are having a miscarriage, you may experience the following symptoms.

  • Severe vaginal bleeding

  • Pain in the lower abdomen

  • Severe or mild lower back pain

  • Intense stomach cramps

  • Releasing blood clots or tissue from the vagina

3. Ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilised embryo implants itself in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus. This condition can potentially be dangerous. If you have an ectopic pregnancy, you will have additional symptoms such as pelvic pain, dizziness, vomiting, and a stomach disorder.

4. Placental abruption

This happens when the placenta separates itself from the uterine wall prior to or during delivery. The most prevalent symptoms of placental abruption may include back pain, vaginal bleeding, and stomach cramps. If not diagnosed early, placental abruption might cause serious consequences. The foetus may not receive enough oxygen, and the mother-to-be may have significant blood loss.

5. Placenta previa

It is an abnormal condition in which the placenta lies down in the uterine cavity, partially or fully covering the cervix. This could lead to vaginal bleeding and is generally painless. Some types of placenta previa resolve automatically between 32 and 35 weeks of pregnancy as the bottom region of your uterus shrinks and expands. If this takes place, then you can have normal labour and delivery. But if the placenta previa does not resolve, you may need to have a caesarean delivery.

6. Placenta accreta

Placenta accreta is a disorder in which the placenta or some part of it enters the wall of the uterus and becomes inseparable from it. This condition could result in bleeding during the third trimester. The placenta accreta can potentially result in significant blood loss during delivery. If you have placenta accreta, you may have potentially fatal blood loss during childbirth.

7. Uterine rupture

In rare instances, during the second pregnancy, the scar from the prior C-section may rip open and cause bleeding. This is referred to as a uterine rupture, and it can be harmful to the mother. Not only just bleeding, but this may also be accompanied by a number of additional symptoms.

8. Infection

Bleeding during the first trimester can also be caused by an infection in your pelvic region, bladder, or urinary system. They may be caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses. Bleeding can also be caused by a severe yeast infection or inflammation known as vaginitis. This may be accompanied by other symptoms like itching, lower abdominal cramps, a burning sensation while urinating, white discharge, or soreness on the outer vaginal part.

9. Carrying multiple babies

If you're conceived with twins or multiple babies, you may be more likely to have first-trimester bleeding owing to factors such as implantation haemorrhage. Miscarriages in the first trimester are also more prevalent when pregnant with multiple babies.

10. Molar pregnancy

A molar pregnancy is another cause of Bleeding during Pregnancy. This is a rare and life-threatening condition that occurs in about one out of every 1,000 pregnancies.

A molar pregnancy occurs when the placenta develops improperly as a result of a genomic error during fertilisation. The foetus may not mature properly. Hence, in the first trimester, a molar pregnancy might result in a miscarriage. The associated symptoms may include severe bleeding, lower abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting.

Warning signs

If you encounter Bleeding during Pregnancy accompanied by the following symptoms, get medical care immediately.

  • Excessive bleeding

  • Discharge containing clots or tissue

  • Extreme discomfort

  • Severe abdominal cramps

  • Several bouts of nausea

  • Fainting or dizziness

  • Chills

  • Fever more than 100.4°F (38°C)

Diagnosis of Pregnancy Bleeding

To know the exact cause of the bleeding, your doctor may recommend the following tests.

  • Physical examination: Your doctor may inquire about the bleeding, any other symptoms you have been experiencing, and your overall health. A vaginal examination may also be performed by your doctor to evaluate the bleeding and look for any apparent causes.

  • Ultrasound: You might also be asked for an ultrasound scan to examine the factors like your baby's heartbeat, indications of a miscarriage, indicators of an ectopic pregnancy, and the placenta's location and health.

  • Blood tests: A blood test determines your hormone levels. Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is the major hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy. Excess hCG can lead to pregnancy with twins or multiples, or molar pregnancy. Low hCG levels may indicate ectopic pregnancy, the possibility of a miscarriage, and any abnormal growth.

Treatment of Pregnancy Bleeding

Some causes of first-trimester bleeding, such as a cervical polyp, can be addressed locally by your doctor. However, other problems may need a further course of treatment, medicine, or surgery.

If the bleeding indicates that your pregnancy cannot be continued safely, your doctor may give medicines such as:

  • Methotrexate: It is a medication that helps in the absorption of dangerous tissue, such as in an ectopic pregnancy.

  • Misoprostol: It is used to terminate a potentially risky pregnancy within the first seven weeks. This medication helps remove tissue and other harmful contents from the uterus. Your doctor may further examine your womb for any remaining tissue or scars.

Preventable measures for Pregnancy Bleeding

It is always essential to follow your healthcare provider's suggestions after being evaluated. You may be recommended to take the following measures to prevent your pregnancy Bleeding.

  • Get enough bed rest.

  • If you have already had bleeding, avoid intercourse.

  • If you bleed during pregnancy, it is preferable to use pads rather than tampons.

  • Consult a doctor if your bleeding resumes again after it has stopped.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here’s a list of common questions and answers regarding Bleeding during Pregnancy.


What are the main reasons for Pregnancy Bleeding?

Bleeding can be primarily caused by foetal implantation, miscarriage, sexual intercourse, ectopic pregnancy, placenta previa, uterine rupture, infection, carrying multiple babies, or placental abruption.

What is the treatment for Pregnancy Bleeding?

Bleeding from implantation doesn't need treatment because it is a common first-trimester process with no major issues. The majority of miscarriages in the first trimester occur naturally with no intervention.

However, doctors prescribe medications like Misoprostol to help terminate a risky pregnancy in the first 7 weeks and Methotrexate to help your body absorb the dangerous tissue, such as in an ectopic pregnancy.

How can I detect if I have an ectopic pregnancy?

If you have an ectopic pregnancy, you might encounter nausea, vomiting, bloating, lower abdominal cramps and pain, and pelvic cramps, especially on one side of the body, besides vaginal bleeding.


Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


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