Bleeding during pregnancy can be terrifying. Most of us get squeamish at the sight of blood as we associate it with pain, injury, and death. So when you find blood on your underwear during pregnancy, all sorts of unpleasant scenarios tend to play out in your head.
If you find that you are bleeding during pregnancy, do not be unduly alarmed. Bleeding during pregnancy affects 1 in 3 women, and the reasons are usually quite innocent. However, if you bleed during pregnancy, it may also be a sign that something has gone wrong in your pregnancy. This is why it is always best to check with your doctor every time you bleed during pregnancy so that she can rule out the more sinister causes, or take steps to remedy the problem in case something has gone wrong.
Causes for Bleeding During Pregnancy
- Bleeding during pregnancy is actually quite common in the pregnancy first trimester. When the egg has been fertilized by the sperm, it travels up the fallopian tubes and into the uterus, where it promptly proceeds to nestle itself in the uterine wall where it will make its home for the next nine months or so. While it is trying to get comfortable and firmly embed itself, bits of the uterine wall may come lose and be ejected from the body. This can look just like blood but will have a brownish tint. It is absolutely harmless, and a sign that the fertilized egg has settled into your womb. However, if the bleeding is severe or lasts more than a day or two, call your doctor.
- Breakthrough bleeding is another reason you may bleed during your pregnancy. This type of bleeding occurs around the time that your period would arrive had you not been pregnant. When you are pregnant, the pregnancy hormones released by your body prevent your period from coming. However, in the early stages of pregnancy, the hormone levels may not be high enough to prevent the period altogether. So you may experience some bleeding, usually accompanied by your regular period symptoms like cramps, heaviness and bloating. There are a few cases of this kind of breakthrough bleeding occurring throughout the pregnancy with no adverse effects to the mother or baby.
- You may bleed during pregnancy right after you have had sex. This is usually because your cervix is rather sensitive during pregnancy due to the increased supply of blood to your organs, and the repetitive movements of intercourse can cause you to bleed.
- In fact, the cervix and vagina are so sensitive that even a normal examination by your gynecologist can irritate it and cause it to bleed during pregnancy.
- Some progesterone supplements have also known to cause bleeding during pregnancy. Again, quite harmless.
- A more serious cause of bleeding during pregnancy is either a cervical or vaginal infection. Other symptoms of an infection would include tenderness or a smelly discharge. If bleeding is accompanied by fever, there is a very high chance that you have an infection and you should call your doctor immediately.
- A sexually transmitted disease can also cause you to bleed during pregnancy.
- Up to 10% of all pregnancies start off with multiple embryos but end up with just one healthy foetus. If you bleed during pregnancy, it may be a case of the other embryos being expelled.
- Miscarriage – the dreaded ‘M’ word that no pregnant woman wants to hear. And the first thought that comes to mind when you bleed during pregnancy. It is an unfortunate truth that almost one third of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. And yes, bleeding is one of the signs of miscarriage or a threatened miscarriage. Most miscarriages will happen during the first trimester of pregnancy. Usually, once you are past the 4 month mark you pregnancy is considered to be safe if it was normal to begin with. Miscarriage bleeding is usually accompanied by backache, pains in the abdomen, and cramping.
- Placenta previa occurs in about one of every two hundred pregnancies and is a condition that is characterized by a placenta that is not normally placed. This means that the placenta may be lying too low, almost on top of the cervical opening. Only repeated ultrasounds in different stages of the pregnancy will help to accurately diagnose this condition.
- Placential abruption is another abnormality of the placenta which can cause you to bleed during pregnancy. What happens here is that the placenta breaks away from the uterine wall, either partially or wholly. The bleeding from a placential abruption can be quite severe, and depending on your condition you may be put to bed rest or have to undergo an emergency C-section.
- If you bleed during pregnancy, you may have an ectopic pregnancy. This is when the fertilized egg implants itself outside the uterus, usually on the fallopian tube. This can be an extremely dangerous condition for both mother and baby as the growing embryo will soon result in the bursting of the fallopian tube. Only around 2% of all pregnancies are ectopic. Bleeding will be accompanied by extreme pain in the stomach, nausea and light-headedness to the point of fainting.
- Although not very common, another reason for bleeding during your pregnancy may be dehydration. So make sure your intake of water is sufficient.
- Are you close to your pregnancy due date? Then perhaps the reason you are bleeding during pregnancy is that you are going into labor.
- A few weeks before you go into labour, the thick mucous plug that blocks your cervical opening starts to fall away. This will result in a mucousy, bloody discharge which will look like bleeding but is merely a sign of impending labor.
- Molar pregnancy may be another reason that you bleed. This is when an abnormal mass instead of a foetus is growing in your uterus. The mass has been known to be malignant in a few cases. The only way to detect this is via ultrasound. Molar pregnancy is a form of cancer and doctors are unsure why it happens.
- Bleeding during pregnancy may be a symptom of other types of cancer as well.
- Another reason you may bleed during pregnancy is because of injuries to your vagina or cervix. This could be in the form of polyps or varicose veins.
- In rare cases, bleeding during pregnancy is due to a uterine rupture. As the name suggests, this is when the uterus splits open and the baby is expelled into the abdomen.
Remedies for Bleeding During Pregnancy
The remedies for the bleeding that you experience during pregnancy will depend on the cause of the bleeding. If it is simply bleeding because of implantation, then no remedy is required as this is natural and will stop in a day or two. But if you are bleed during pregnancy because of other reasons like an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage, then you will need to see your doctor and discuss the options open to you.
Preventing Bleeding During Pregnancy
Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to avoid bleeding during pregnancy as it is a medical condition and your body’s response systems. But although it is mostly out of your control, you can still do your best to stay as healthy as possible during your pregnancy, get appropriate amounts of rest and exercise, and diligently stick to your regular doctor’s appointments so that you undergo the various tests which will detect any abnormalities in time.
Points to Keep in Mind If You Bleed During Pregnancy
- The first thing you need to do if you bleed during pregnancy is to monitor your bleeding so that you can give your doctor an accurate account. Wear a panty liner or a sanitary pad that will allow you to see exactly how much you are bleeding in addition to giving you some other information about the bleeding like the color and consistency of the blood, and any accompanying smell. You may not think this is very important but it may prove to be of invaluable help to your doctor in accurately diagnosing the reason for your bleeding.
- If you bleed during pregnancy and it is accompanied by pain, fever or chills, treat it as an emergency situation and call a doctor immediately; do not treat it as a ‘wait and watch’ situation.
- Do not douche or wear a tampon if you bleed during pregnancy. You will just further exacerbate the problem.
- Avoid sex when you bleed during pregnancy.
- Sometimes, you may pass tissue when you bleed during pregnancy. Take this with you to your doctor’s appointment.