Bleeding and Spotting During Pregnancy: What does it mean?

Bleeding or light bleeding during pregnancy is quite common. 

Having vaginal bleeding during pregnancy may feel scary but it isn’t always a sign that something’s wrong. An example of that is implantation bleeding.

Implantation bleeding occurs when the fertilized egg is implanted into the lining of the uterus. This can occur even before a woman realizes she is pregnant. 

Other Causes of Bleeding During Pregnancy

About 25 percent of women experience bleeding during their first trimester. This usually occurs during the sixth or seventh week of pregnancy.

While bleeding during this stage may indicate a problem, it’s not always the case. There are women who experience spotting or light bleeding during their first trimester but have an uncomplicated pregnancy and even deliver healthy babies.

What is spotting?

Spotting is light bleeding, which means there isn’t enough blood to cover your panty liner. It may be a trace amount of pink, dark brown, or red blood. 

Bleeding During the First Trimester

Bleeding during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy can occur as a result of any of the following:

  • Changes in the cervix
    The hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause changes to the cervix, making it softer and more prone to bleeding. This may also stimulate a benign overgrowth of tissues in the cervix, which is also prone to bleeding after a pelvic examination or sexual intercourse.
  • Vaginal infection
    Spontaneous vaginal bleeding during the first trimester may also indicate a vaginal infection. This is usually accompanied by abnormal vaginal discharge.

In some cases, vaginal bleeding during the first trimester could indicate a more serious problem. Some serious cases that may cause you to bleed include:

  • Miscarriage
    Aside from vaginal bleeding, a miscarriage may also cause abdominal and back pain.
  • Molar pregnancy
    Also known as hydatidiform mole, molar pregnancy results from abnormal fertilization. This means there is an abnormal growth of tissues in the uterus and no fetus. The fetus is basically consumed by abnormal tissue growth and hence, this pregnancy could not result in a normal fetus or pregnancy.
  • Ectopic pregnancy
    An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilization occurs outside the uterus. In some cases, it could result in the rupture of the fallopian tube, which could result in significant blood loss. 

Aside from vaginal bleeding, ectopic pregnancy could also cause increasing abdominal pain. 

Bleeding During the Second and Third Trimesters

Vaginal bleeding during the second and third trimesters could be a result of:

  • Incompetent cervix

This refers to the cervix opening prematurely. This may lead to preterm birth.

  • Placental abruption

The placenta supplies the nutrients and blood to the baby. Hence, placental abruption, which is the separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus, requires immediate medical attention.

  • Placenta previa

This is a condition that occurs when the placenta covers the cervix, resulting in heavy bleeding.

  • Miscarriage

If you experience vaginal bleeding at this stage of your pregnancy and it is accompanied by abdominal pain, it could be a miscarriage or intrauterine fetal death. 

  • Problems in the cervix

Any problem in the cervix, whether it’s inflammation or infection, could result in bleeding.

  • Uterine rupture

When your uterus tears open along the scar line of your previous C-section, it can result in uterine rupture. It’s a rare condition but life-threatening.

Vaginal Bleeding During the End of Pregnancy

If you experience light bleeding near the end of your pregnancy, it could be a sign of labor. The bloody discharge can be pink or red in color, mixed with mucus. 

With so many possible causes of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, it’s important to notify your provider about it. Take note of the color, amount (how much it covers your panty liners), and accompanying symptoms.

The Women’s Healthcare of Norman has Obstetricians who have years of experience in diagnosing and treating different causes of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy

To request an appointment, you may call us (405) 360-1264.