Abnormal vaginal bleeding during pregnancy? Here’s why it can happen

If you are pregnant and experience abnormal vaginal bleeding, it may be an alarm. This is why it could happen!
vaginal bleeding
Don't freak out, and read this! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Sangeeta Gomes Published: 5 Feb 2022, 14:45 pm IST
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Bleeding during pregnancy might seem unusual. But what causes this abnormal vaginal bleeding? While a small amount of vaginal bleeding is relatively common during the first trimester, too much of it during other phases of pregnancy can harm you and your baby. You should know what type of vaginal bleeding is normal and not.

Bleeding during the first trimester

Many women suffer from vaginal bleeding in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Some possible causes of bleeding can be:

1. Miscarriage:

Since miscarriages are common during the first trimester, vaginal bleeding becomes one of the biggest concerns. Other symptoms of miscarriage include strong cramps and tissue passing through the vagina. However, vaginal bleeding does not mean that you have suffered from a miscarriage.

2. Implantation bleeding:

After you conceive, you may notice spotting within 6-12 days, as the fertilized egg implants in the uterus. The bleeding can be very light, due to which women may confuse it with their period, in case they are not aware of their pregnancy yet. It usually happens when the next menstrual cycle is expected.

3. Ectopic or tubal pregnancy:

If the embryo implants itself outside the uterus, in the fallopian tubes, it is called an ectopic pregnancy. Bleeding from an ectopic pregnancy can happen in the first trimester, which is the most dangerous cause as it can be life-threatening.

abnormal bleeding during pregnancy
Keep a tab on your abnormal bleeding during pregnancy Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Bleeding due to infections:

Some infections or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like chlamydia can cause bleeding in the first trimester. A vaginal infection can also cause bleeding along with abnormal vaginal discharge.

5. Molar pregnancy:

Molar pregnancy or gestational trophoblastic disease is a rare condition in which there is abnormal tissue in the uterus instead of a developing foetus. In some cases, the tissue can be cancerous and can spread to other body parts.

Cervical changes and any kind of trauma to the vagina can also cause bleeding. Bleeding due to intercourse or a pap test can also happen and is not a cause of concern.

Bleeding during second and third trimesters

Abnormal bleeding in the later stages of pregnancy can indicate a more serious problem. Some of the possible causes of bleeding in the second and third trimesters can be:

1. Placenta previa:

When the placenta covers the cervical opening, it causes placenta previa. Sometimes, it can cause bleeding and can be painless.

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Abnormal bleeding during pregnancy
Get yourself regularly checked during pregnancy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Placental abruption:

In some cases, the placenta detaches from the uterine wall prematurely, resulting in blood collection between the placenta and the uterus. This can be dangerous for both the mother and the baby.

Other issues like uterine rupture, preterm labour and foetal vessel rupture can also cause vaginal bleeding.

How much bleeding is normal during pregnancy?

You might get anxious about how much bleeding is normal. Light bleeding and spotting are generally common during the first trimester of pregnancy. Out of these, most of the women do not have any complications and deliver a healthy baby. However, this light bleeding can also indicate a serious issue, which is why you must consult a doctor irrespective of the trimester.

While spotting can mean only a few drops of blood, bleeding, on the other hand, refers to a blood flow which requires wearing a pad. You can tell your healthcare provider whether you are experiencing spotting or bleeding. Also, do not insert anything like tampons in the vagina during pregnancy.

What to do in case of abnormal bleeding?

Keep a track of how much you are bleeding by wearing a pad. Your doctor might suggest you avoid traveling and exercising for some time. Ultrasound will be performed to see the underlying causes of bleeding. If the bleeding comes with other symptoms like dizziness, fatigue, severe cramps, pain, which is worse than you experience during periods, make sure to seek medical attention immediately.

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About the Author

Dr Sangeeta Gomes is a senior obstetrician, gynaecologist, and an infertility specialist. She completed her MBBS from Gandhi Medical College, Hyderabad in the year 1994 and her MD in Obstetrics and Gynaecology from Osmania Medical College, Hyderabad in 1998. She has an experience of 28 years. She has a wide range of experience in the field of Pre-and Post Delivery Care, Instrumental Delivery, and High-Risk Pregnancy Care which includes twins pregnancy, pregnancy with a bicornuate uterus, breech presentation, transverse lie, fibroid complicating pregnancy, and placenta previa. She is specialised in Infertility Evaluation and Treatment. She is also specialised in teenage problems, hormonal imbalance, DNC, cervical cerclage, open abdominal surgery, laparoscopic surgery, and peri and post-menopausal problems. She has good expertise in previous cesarean cases and gynecological surgeries. She is a consultant obstetrician, gynaecologist and infertility specialist at Motherhood Hospitals. ...Read More

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