Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy occurs frequently and may not be a sign of problems. However, you should contact your doctor or seek medical attention if bleeding continues. There are a few different causes related to vaginal bleeding. Below are brief explanations for bleeding during the first half of pregnancy which is followed by explanations for bleeding during the second half of pregnancy.
Bleeding does not mean that a miscarriage is happening, but it can be a sign. Approximately half of pregnant women who bleed do not have miscarriages. Approximately 15-20% of all pregnancies result in a miscarriage, and the majority occur during the first 12 weeks.
Signs of Miscarriage include:
Most miscarriages cannot be prevented. They are often the body's way of dealing with a pregnancy that was not normal.
Ectopic pregnancies are pregnancies that implant somewhere outside the uterus. The fallopian tube accounts for the majority of ectopic pregnancies. Ectopic pregnancies are less common than miscarriages occurring in 1 of 60 pregnancies.
Signs of Ectopic Pregnancies:
Women are at a higher risk if they have had:
Molar pregnancies are a rare cause of early bleeding. Often referred to as a "Mole," a molar pregnancy involves the growth of abnormal tissue instead of an embryo. It is also referred to as gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD).
Vaginal bleeding is the only outward sign of a molar pregnancy.
Common conditions of minor bleeding include an inflamed cervix or growths on the cervix. Late bleeding may pose a threat to the health of the woman or the fetus. See your physician.
Vaginal bleeding may be caused by the placenta detaching from the uterine wall before or during labor. Only 1% of pregnant women have this problem, and it usually occurs during the last 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Signs of Placental Abruption:
Women who are at higher risks for this condition include:
Placenta previa occurs when the placenta lies low in the uterus partly or completely covering the cervix. It is serious and requires immediate care. It occurs in 1 woman in 200. Bleeding usually occurs without pain. Women who are at higher risks for this condition include:
Vaginal bleeding may be a sign of labor. A small amount of mucus and blood is passed from the cervix. It is common and not a problem if it occurs within a few weeks of your due date. If it occurs earlier, you could be entering preterm labor and should see your physician immediately.
Signs of Preterm Labor include:
Reprinted with permission from American Pregnancy Association