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02nd May 2018

What does bleeding during pregnancy mean and why does it happen?

Jade Hayden

bleeding during pregnancy

Bleeding during pregnancy can be a scary experience.

It doesn’t happen to us all, but when it does, you can be left feeling scared, confused, and just a little bit unsure as to what’s happening.

As it turns out though, there are plenty of reasons why you might start bleeding when you’re expecting a child – but not all of them are cause for concern.

1. Implantation 

Sometimes early on in a pregnancy, usually in the first two weeks, you might experience a bit of bleeding as the egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus.

This could come as noticeable bleeding or just a bit of spotting but is nothing to worry about.

2. Vaginal spotting

About 20 percent of first trimester pregnancies experience some form of light spotting.

The majority of women then go on to have completely healthy pregnancies. However, it’s important to note that heavy bleeding and cramping is not usual during pregnancy and should be checked out by a doctor.

3. Cervical polyps 

Pregnancy causes a lot of changes to the body, including the cervix. These changes can cause the cervix to become softer, meaning that it’s likely to bleed more.

As well as this, a cervical polyp might form. A cervical polyp is a growth of tissue that is benign, but that could cause bleeding and inflammation.

These can be easily removed and are rarely harmful to the baby.

4. Intercourse

As the cervix becomes softer, so does the chance for bleeding after sex intercourse become more possible – especially if the intercourse is particular vigorous.

5. STI

If an STI is contracted before or during pregnancy, it could cause vaginal bleeding.

Similarly, certain STDs like gonorrhoea and herpes can be transferred to the baby during birth, so informing your doctor of these infections is always necessary.

6. Ectopic pregnancy 

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the foetus starts to develop in the fallopian tube instead of the womb.

Such an implantation can cause bleeding and will need to be removed to ensure the safety of the mother. The pregnancy will not be able to go to term.

Ectopic pregnancies occur in about 2 percent of pregnancies.

7. Uterine rupture

It is possible for the uterus to rupture during pregnancy if the tissue has been weakened previously either by a past C-section or other relevant surgery.

In this case, emergency surgery must be carried out as uterine rupture is a life-threatening condition.

8. Placenta abruption 

Bleeding can also occur if the placenta detaches from the uterus, causing blood to collect between the two.

Both mother and baby can be saved if a placenta abruption is noticed early, however if not, it can result in the loss of the baby and haemorrhaging.

9. Miscarriage 

When bleeding during the first trimester, most women fear that they are miscarrying.

Miscarriages happen most frequently during the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy, but bleeding during this time doesn’t always mean that the pregnancy is ending.

The most common signs to look out for in this case are mild to severe cramps, pain/abdomen pain, or the passing or tissue/clots, however some women experience no symptoms.