I’m Pregnant, and I’m Bleeding. Should I Be Concerned?
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call your health care provider. Your doctor will want to know how much blood you’re passing, how far along you are in your pregnancy, and whether you have any other symptoms or pain.
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may ask you to come in for an ultrasound or a blood test. Most of the time, your doctor will be able to identify what’s wrong and prescribe a course of treatment. However, sometimes, no diagnosis can be made, and you and your provider will just have to keep an eye on the situation.
Keep reading to learn more about some of the most common conditions that cause bleeding during pregnancy.
Could I Be Having a Miscarriage?
Miscarriage is fairly common, occurring in up to 20% of pregnancies. Miscarriages are most likely to occur in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, but they can occur as late as 20 weeks. Symptoms of a miscarriage include:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Passing tissue through the vagina
- Strong cramping
If you’re bleeding with no cramping, or only light cramping, you’re probably not having a miscarriage. The bleeding may very well clear up on its own, while the pregnancy continues.
I Think I’m Having a Miscarriage. What Should I Do?
Call your healthcare provider right away. If there is some tissue left in your uterus after a miscarriage, it will need to be expelled or removed.
Your doctor can prescribe medication to help your body to expel the tissue, or perform a procedure to remove the tissue, called dilation and curettage, or D&C. This is when the cervix is dilated and the tissue is scraped from the uterus with a curette, a spoon-shaped instrument. The doctor may also use suction instead of, or in addition to, the curette.
What Is an Ectopic Pregnancy?
An ectopic pregnancy is another possible cause of vaginal bleeding. This is a life-threatening condition, in which the fertilized egg has implanted in the Fallopian tube, instead of in the womb. As the fertilized egg begins to divide and grow, it can rupture the Fallopian tube, causing massive internal bleeding. An ectopic pregnancy is not a viable pregnancy, and must be removed right away.
Could I Have an Ectopic Pregnancy?
Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Cramping and pain in the pelvis, particularly on one side of the body
- Nausea, vomiting
Ectopic pregnancies occur in about 1 out of 60 pregnancies. You may be at higher risk if you’ve had an infection, scarring, or surgery of the Fallopian tubes.
I’m Late in My Pregnancy, and Experiencing Light Bleeding. What Could Be the Problem?
Light bleeding late in pregnancy usually means you have an inflamed cervix. You could also have developed growths on the cervix. Your doctor can prescribe medication to treat these conditions.
I’m Late in My Pregnancy and Experiencing Heavy Bleeding. What Could It Be?
Heavy bleeding late in pregnancy usually indicates a complication with the placenta. This requires medical treatment. The two most common complications are:
- Placenta previa. This is when the placenta has developed at the bottom of the uterus, covering the cervix. It’s usually painless, but it can cause vaginal bleeding.
- Placental abruption. In most pregnancies, the placenta is connected to the uterine wall. If it becomes dislodged from the wall, either before or during labor, it can disrupt circulation to the baby. Vaginal bleeding is sometimes present, but more often it will cause abdominal pain.
Could I Be Going Into Labor?
Vaginal bleeding is sometimes a sign of labor. This is known as “bloody show.” If you’re bleeding within about three weeks of your due date, then you may be going into labor. If it’s more than three weeks before your due date, you could be going into pre-term labor. In either case, you should contact your doctor.
Other Signs That You’re Going Into Labor Include:
- Change in the color, texture, or amount of vaginal discharge
- Dull, aching back pains
- Pelvic pressure
- Cramps or regular contractions
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, call your doctor.