Nothing scares an excited mommy-to-be more than the sight of blood on her undergarments. But bleeding during pregnant is actually pretty common: 20% of women experiencing bleeding in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Bleeding can happen at any point during a pregnancysometimes there isn’t any cause for concern, and sometimes the bleeding is a sign that something may be wrong.

What Does Bleeding During Pregnancy Mean?

Bleeding during pregnancy can be the result of something benign or something serious:

  • Implantation Bleeding: In the first 6 to 12 days of conception, you may notice some spotting, or very light bleeding, during implantation, which is when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus in order to begin growing.
  • Bleeding from Intercourse or Pap Smear: Because more blood flows to your cervix during pregnancy, you can bleed easily from intercourse, a pap smear, irritation, or strenuous activity.
  • Breakthrough Bleeding: Although doctors can’t explain exactly why this happens, but as your body adjusts to pregnancy, your hormones can bring on spotting around the time your period is due. This type of bleeding is benign.
  • Infections: Urinary Tract Infections, yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and STDs can cause the cervix to become inflamed and bleed. Watch for other symptoms such as discharge, odors, itchiness, or pain during urination. Some STDs can put your baby at risk if left untreated, so see a doctor immediately if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above.
  • Miscarriage: Hopefully, this is not the case, but if you are experiencing a miscarriage, you will typically have abdominal pain, cramping, and sometimes lower back painalmost like a period. The bleeding will continue for a few hours. Most miscarriages cannot be prevented, but it does not mean you won’t be able to conceive again. It’s reported that 10-25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, but many of these women move on to have full term pregnancies later on.
  • Ectopic Pregnancy: An ectopic pregnancy happens when the embryo implants outside the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. Damage to the fallopian tubes will cause bleeding. If the embryo gets big enough to damage the tube, you will feel unbearable abdominal pain where you’re unable to move about normally. Ectopic pregnancies are life threatening, so go to the ER immediately if you are experiencing these symptoms.
  • Placental problems or premature labor. In the second or third trimester, spotting or bleeding during pregnancy can be a sign that something may be wrong or the baby is on its way. Conditions such as as placenta previa, placenta accreta, placental abruption (when the placenta separates from the uterus), a late miscarriage, or premature labor (which can happen between mid pregnancy and 37 weeks) are serious conditions that need immediate medical attention.

How Much Bleeding During Pregnancy is OK?

Spotting during pregnancy is pretty normal. Even isolated instances of a heavier flow may be simply the result of breakthrough bleeding. This light bleeding should not accompany pain and is typically brownish in color.

How Much Bleeding During Pregnancy is Too Much?

If you have a continuous flow of bleeding that fills up a pad, or have bleeding with mucus, pain in the belly or pelvis area, cramping, or dizziness, you should call your doctor and go to the nearest ER clinic to be examined. If the bleeding you’re experiencing is red, as opposed to brown or light pink, seek medical assistance from a doctor or midwife.

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