Bleeding during pregnancy

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Definition

Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy can be scary. However, it isn’t always a sign of trouble. Bleeding in the first trimester (weeks one through 12) is common, and most women who experience bleeding during pregnancy go on to deliver healthy babies.

Still, it’s important to take vaginal bleeding during pregnancy seriously. Sometimes vaginal bleeding during pregnancy indicates an impending miscarriage or a condition that needs prompt treatment. By understanding the most common causes of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, you’ll know what to look for and when to contact your health care provider.

Causes

Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy has many causes. Some are serious, and many aren’t.

1st trimester

Possible causes of vaginal bleeding during the first trimester include:

  • The spontaneous loss of pregnancy before the 20th week
  • Implantation bleeding which occurs about 10 to 14 days after conception
  • Problems with the cervix, such as a cervical infection, inflamed cervix or growths on the cervix
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Molar pregnancy a rare occurrence in which an abnormal mass instead of a baby forms inside the uterus after fertilization

2nd or 3rd trimester

Possible causes of vaginal bleeding during the second or third trimester include:

  • (before the 20th week) or intrauterine fetal death
  • Placental abruption
  • Cervicitis
  • Incompetent cervix Premature opening of the cervix which can lead to preterm birth
  • Problems with the cervix, such as a cervical infection, inflamed cervix or growths on the cervix
  • Preterm labor which might result in light bleeding especially when accompanied by contractions, dull backache or pelvic pressure
  • Uterine rupture, a rare but life-threatening occurrence in which the uterus tears open along the scar line from a prior C-section

Normal vaginal bleeding near the end of pregnancy

Light bleeding, often mixed with mucous, near the end of pregnancy could be a sign that labor is starting. Vaginal discharge that is pink or bloody is known as the bloody show.

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