Vaginal bleeding or spotting during pregnancy

Vaginal bleeding or spotting during pregnancy

safe_image (Small) Spotting and bleeding can mean any number of things, from the benign to the truly troublesome. It’s definitely scary when a pregnant woman sees blood but it is not definite that the bleeding is a sign that something is wrong. In fact, one in five pregnant women will experience some spotting during her first trimester. After that, spotting is less likely to occur- even if it does, it is still not necessarily an ominous sign.

Vaginal bleeding can be very scary for a pregnant woman who is thinking positively about her baby. Instead of panicking, it is better to read and understand more about vaginal bleeding. Come to think about it, nearly 20 % of pregnant women across the country see blood coming out from their vaginas. One should know that it is not uncommon or unnatural medical condition during pregnancy.


Also, this spotting or light bleeding is a phenomenon that is mostly seen during the first trimester of pregnancy than in later stages of pregnancy. But there can be no gainsaying the fact that seeing blood in the panty can be very demoralizing and even nerve wrecking for a woman who is so happy and excited about her conception.

How to differentiate spotting from bleeding during pregnancy?

Spotting is very light bleeding, similar to what one may have at the very beginning or end of their period. It can vary in color from pink to red to brown (the color of dried blood). If it is bright red, consider it bleeding. The amount of blood seen is another red flag: Spotting doesn’t soak a sanitary napkin but bleeding may. In fact, spotting is when you see a few drops of blood in your panty occasionally.

There is no need to become alarmed when you experience wetting of your underwear with a few drops of blood. It is only when the quantity of blood is high and it comes out in a trickle that it is considered as vaginal bleeding. This is when you will need to place a sanitary napkin to soak the blood and prevent your panty from getting soiled.


Bleeding during first trimester

You will be surprised to know that every third or fourth pregnant women in the country experiences light or moderate bleeding from her vagina in the first 20 weeks of her pregnancy. In a vast majority of these cases, nothing untoward happens and the women go on to complete their full term of pregnancy. In fact, they go on to give birth to healthy babies. Thus, it is innocuous bleeding in most of the cases of spotting experienced during first trimester of pregnancy. This is what is confirmed by American Pregnancy Association.

Bleeding during last trimester

Bleeding normally takes place during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy and the danger of miscarriage is also greatly reduced after pregnancy has continued smoothly past 20 weeks. Many of the reasons leading to spotting or bleeding are no longer relevant during the last trimester of pregnancy. However, vaginal bleeding, when it is not a onetime affair but an ongoing process during the last trimester of pregnancy, can be a serious issue.


One of the main reasons behind vaginal bleeding during the last trimester of pregnancy is cervical checks carried out by doctors and midwives. These checks become very frequent in the last 20 weeks of pregnancy. Another important reason of vaginal bleeding in this period is placental abruption where the placenta violently leaves the uterus walls. Though this condition is rare, it affects 1% of pregnant women in the country and can become life threatening for not just the babies but also the moms.

There is another important reason of vaginal bleeding during the last trimester of pregnancy. It is preterm labor that is often accompanied by pelvic pressure, contractions, and cramping. These conditions that include  severe back pains lead to vaginal bleeding that can have serious repercussions for the health of the unborn baby.

Causes of spotting during pregnancy:

Light spotting is usually benign and is caused by the following reasons:

Implantation bleeding

17013In the earliest part of pregnancy, implantation of the embryo into the uterine wall causes spotting in 20-30 percent of women. It usually occurs before (or in some cases around the time) one expected her period. During the time implantation takes place, a woman may experience spotting or a few drops of blood in her panty for several days.

In most cases, these women are not even aware that they have become pregnant and they believe these drops of blood are a result of the period that they experienced a few days ago. Implantation bleeding is also referred to as egg embedding and you can visualize it in your mind as a process whereby you affix something on the wall of the uterus. It seems only natural that some blood will result when a foreign body is being implanted on the lining of the uterus.



 More blood flows to the cervix during pregnancy, so it’s not unusual to notice spotting after intercourse. A cervical polyp (a benign growth on the cervix) can also cause spotting or bleeding after sex. Many pregnant women have reported drops of blood from their vagina after sexual intercourse. This type of spotting or bleeding has no connection at all with pregnancy.

Pap smear or internal exam.

 Spotting may also be noticed after one has had a Pap smear or internal exam for the same reasons – greater blood flow to the cervix or a cervical polyp. Some women start to bleed after undergoing internal examination carried out by a midwife or a doctor.



 Spotting can also be caused by conditions unrelated to pregnancy. A vaginal infection (such as a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis) or a sexually transmitted infection (such as trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, or herpes) can cause the cervix to become irritated or inflamed. An inflamed cervix is particularly prone to spotting after sex or a Pap smear. Tearing of the vaginal wall sometimes causes spotting. The drops of blood that result from this tearing can worry any woman but the fact is that it has no connection with her pregnancy.

Sub chorionic bleed

Blood accumulates within the folds of the chorion (the outer fetal membrane next to the placenta), or within the layers of the placenta itself, causing light to heavy spotting. In most cases, it resolves on its own and does not become a problem for the pregnancy.


Loss of mucous plug

Later in pregnancy, blood streaked mucus may indicate the beginnings of labor.

Breakthrough bleeding

This is a kind of bleeding where it starts not because of anything related with pregnancy but because of your hormones controlling your menstrual cycle. This is a bleeding that is inexplicable but it may take place a few times without harming your baby. So if your doctor tells you that the spotting you experiences was a result of breakthrough bleeding, you can take a sigh of relief and relax that your baby is totally safe. Also, this bleeding will take place again so you should remain mentally prepared.

Causes of bleeding during pregnancy:

17013Though vaginal bleeding is rarely an entirely benign sign, pinpointing the cause is best left to the practitioner as it can accompany any number of pregnancy complications. Here are some of the most common causes:

Miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

 Spotting or bleeding in the first trimester, especially if accompanied by abdominal pain or cramping, can be an early sign of miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy (when the embryo implants outside the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes). Miscarriage is an unfortunate event where the baby dies in the womb before the completion of 20 weeks of pregnancy.


An ectopic pregnancy can be life-threatening, which is one of the reasons it’s important to let the practitioner know immediately if there is bleeding or pain in the first trimester. Up to a quarter of pregnant women have some spotting or bleeding in early pregnancy, and about half of these women miscarry. But if one has an ultrasound that shows a normal heartbeat between 7 and 11 weeks, their chances of continuing the pregnancy are greater than 90 percent.

Molar Pregnancy.

It is a rare condition discovered within weeks of conception where a placenta becomes a mass of cysts accompanied by a malformed or nonexistent embryo. This may also be another cause for bleeding during the first trimester.

Placental problems or premature labor.

 In the second or third trimester, bleeding or spotting can be a sign of a serious condition such as placenta previa or placenta accrete (placenta covers a part of the cervix), placental abruption (in which the placenta separates from the uterus), a late miscarriage (between 13 weeks and mid pregnancy), or premature labor (which can happen between mid pregnancy and 37 weeks).


What should be done if spotting or bleeding is noticed during pregnancy?

Call the doctor or midwife right away, even if the bleeding seems to have stopped. While it may turn out to be something minor, it could be a sign of a serious problem. What the healthcare practitioner does next will depend on one’s individual situation.

One may probably need an evaluation, which may include a physical exam, an ultrasound, and blood tests, to make sure both mom and the baby are fine and to rule out any complications. If one has actively bleeding or have severe pain of any kind and can’t immediately reach their practitioner, they should head straight for the emergency room.


Treatment of vaginal bleeding

It is the desire of the puzzled parents to know the reason behind vaginal bleeding and to get the right treatment as quickly as possible. This is because a pregnant woman is terrified she might lose her baby because of this bleeding. It is difficult for a doctor to give any medication without condu8cting blood, urine, and other diagnostic tests of the pregnant woman.

Doctors say that the best treatment of any spotting or vaginal bleeding is proper rest. The pregnant woman must give up on all her work and lie down on bed as soon as possible. In fact, she should not be standing on her feet to prevent further spotting or bleeding. Also, doctors make attempts to prevent your baby from contracting Rh disease from you.


This is a medical condition where the blood of the mother is incompatible with the blood of the child and both blood coming in contact together becomes lethal for the life of the baby. Remember, light spotting is common and usually nothing to be concerned about. Heavy bleeding that soaks through a pad, however, always warrants a call to one’s practitioner. Rather than drawing any conclusion on your own, it is always a prudent idea to consult a doctor.

You must avoid any kind of heavy work inside or outside the house now that you know that the best treatment for spotting or bleeding is rest,. One should keep in mind that it is not necessarily a sign that one is miscarrying. Some women bleed- even throughout their pregnancies and still deliver healthy babies. Happy pregnancy!!!!