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What Causes Bleeding During Pregnancy?

Bleeding late in pregnancy can be a sign of an issue with the placenta.
Any bleeding during pregnancy should be reported to a midwife or doctor immediately.
It is not uncommon for a pregnant woman to experience bleeding after a pelvic exam.
Miscarriage is one cause of bleeding during pregnancy.
Bleeding during early pregnancy may be caused by infection.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 October 2014
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Bleeding during pregnancy can be frightening, since many people associate bleeding with miscarriage. In fact, there are a number of reasons for a pregnant woman to experience bleeding, and bleeding is not necessarily abnormal. Any bleeding or spotting should be reported to a doctor or midwife, and women should also wear pads or panty liners so that they can keep track of how much they are bleeding, as this information may be important when a medical care provider evaluates the situation.

In early pregnancy, some common causes for bleeding include an infection, implantation bleeding, and cervical changes. During pregnancy, the cervix changes to prepare for birth, and it is not uncommon for women to experience bleeding after a pelvic exam or after sex. Bleeding during pregnancy can also occur because a woman is experiencing a miscarriage, an ectopic pregnancy, or a molar pregnancy. All of these situations require medical attention and evaluation.

As a pregnancy progresses, bleeding during pregnancy is more likely to be associated with problems with the placenta such as placenta previa or placental abruption. It can also be a sign of pre-term labor. Bleeding during pregnancy has also been linked with cancers of the reproductive tract, most classically cervical cancer.

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Bleeding alone is not necessarily a bad sign, although it should still be reported to a midwife or doctor. If bleeding is accompanied with other symptoms such as cramping, fever, nausea, vomiting, and so forth, these symptoms can indicate that a serious problem is occurring with the pregnancy. When a woman calls her health care provider to report bleeding during pregnancy, she should report any additional symptoms she is experiencing, as these will help the doctor determine whether or not the woman needs to come in to be seen.

Women who have experienced a history of miscarriage or other problems during pregnancy should make sure that their care providers are aware of this history when they report bleeding during pregnancy. For pregnant women who are going to be traveling, it can be a good idea to bring along a brief letter from a doctor discussing the pregnancy; the letter can provide any information which might be relevant to another care provider if the woman is forced to seek medical attention. The important thing to remember when seeking care for bleeding during pregnancy is that stress can be dangerous for the developing fetus, so it is important to stay as calm as possible, even though the situation can be scary.

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ElizaBennett
Post 2

@MissDaphne - I'm glad you shared your experience, because it's so easy to be frightened by spotting or bleeding during pregnancy and it's most often nothing to worry about. That's not to say you shouldn't call your doctor or even go to the ER, like you did - you absolutely should.

But while you're waiting, there's no need to panic. There's a good chance that everything will be fine. And stay off the Internet! It can be a terrifying place when you're pregnant.

MissDaphne
Post 1

One thing to note about bleeding during early pregnancy is that it's different from spotting. Spotting is brown or pink and it's often caused by a little bruising of the cervix from sex or exercise.

Bleeding is bright red, and it is definitely more ominous.

I experienced pretty scary bleeding at about six weeks of pregnancy.It wasn't red, but it was a pretty heavy flow, like a period. Since I had some cramping, too, I was convinced I was having a miscarriage. I was at the ER for probably five long, scary hours before I found out everything was OK.

It turned out to be a subchorionic hemorrhage, basically just a burst blood vessel. They're really common and usually not dangerous. But that can be a cause of quite noticeable bleeding or spotting!

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