Bleeding during Pregnancy

Bleeding During Pregnancy

Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy can be a frightening experience unless you know the exact cause of the bleeding. Up to 20-30% of women have vaginal bleeding at some time during their pregnancy, especially in the first trimester.

Bleeding during Pregnancy

Vaginal Bleeding in Pregnancy

Many women with bleeding in pregnancy have minor conditions that need no treatment. At other times, bleeding can be a sign of a serious problem. It is important to inform your health care provider immediately if you experience any amount of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy.

Bleeding during the first trimester (12 weeks) occurs in many women and it can be a sign of miscarriage. Studies show that anywhere from 20-30% of women experience some degree of bleeding in early pregnancy but approximately half of 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. If you pass anything you think is fetal tissue be sure to take it to your health care provider for examination.

To help prevent a miscarriage or other problems during pregnancy, avoid smoking and the use of drugs of any kind, including alcohol. Eat a well-balanced diet and nutritional diet and obtain prenatal care and regular medical checkups.

Common Causes of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy:

  1. Bleeding in early pregnancy may be caused by some type of infection, by sexual intercourse (the cervix is very tender and sensitive) and as the result of the implantation of the fertilized egg;

  2. Vaginal bleeding in late pregnancy may be a sign that labor has begun. A plug that covers the opening of the uterus during pregnancy is passed just before or at the start of labor and mucus and blood is passed from the cervix. This is called "bloody show." It is common and is not a problem if it happens within a few weeks of when the baby is due to deliver;

  3. Miscarriage can occur at any time during the first half of pregnancy.  A miscarriages is often the body's way of dealing with a pregnancy that was not healthy;

  4. Ectopic pregnancy is often accompanied by unexpected vaginal bleeding and severe abdominal pain.  An Ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg implants itself in one of the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus. This is often called a "tubal pregnancy"; and

  5. Two causes of bleeding in late pregnancy are placental abruption (when the placenta detaches from the uterine wall) and placenta previa (when the placenta lies low in the uterus).

Taking Action

Anytime vaginal bleeding occurs during early, mid, or late pregnancy, it should immediately be reported to your health care provider.  Until you have checked with your health care provider or local hospital emergency room, do not take any medication, avoid sexual intercourse, and drink only fluids if the bleeding and cramping are severe.

Additional Information

NIH: Vaginal bleeding in pregnancy

Bleeding during pregnancy


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