Bleeding During Early Pregnancy

image001Did you know that about a third of all expectant mothers spot during pregnancy? It’s not uncommon for a good number of pregnant women to have some bleeding, especially after intercourse and this is not always as a result of a tear within the vaginal wall or infections. Bleeding during early pregnancy can be scary for the mom-to-be, but as Dr. Alyssa Stepehnson Famy, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist from the University of Washington, tells us that most cases of spotting are simply harmless. It is important to be aware that bleeding or spotting of any kind can be a symptom of a complication of the pregnancy. This may be due to an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, or placenta previa, which means that you are right not to ignore it. Today, we have a look at some of the reasons why you are experiencing spotting especially during the first trimester and we will also provide tips that will help you communicate effectively with your ob-gyn.

What Are the Causes of Bleeding During Early Pregnancy?

About 20% of pregnant women experience bleeding during early pregnancy, especailly during the first trimester. There are various reasons for this and these include:




Miscarriages mostly occur within the first 12 weeks and this is one of the major concerns that arise when an expectant mother is bleeding. Research shows that approximately half of all women who experience bleeding end up losing the pregnancy to a miscarriage. However, this doesn’t mean that bleeding is a sure sign of a miscarriage. There are symptoms that are associated with bleeding and these include: strong cramps within the lower abdomen as well as the vaginal tissue.

Implantation bleeding

This is quite common and in fact most women confuse implantation bleeding with their menstrual periods. Implantation bleeding occurs after conception when the egg attaches itself on the uterus lining. The bleeding is however very light and could last only a few hours or go on for a couple of days.

Ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself outside the uterus walls and this mostly occurs within the fallopian tube. Of course, most women are unaware of this hence allowing the fertilized embryo to develop within the strained fallopian tube. Due to the obvious pressure, the fallopian tube may burst and this could be life threatening. Ectopic pregnancies are not considered dangerous in this day of advanced medicine and they are rare, only occurring in about 2% of all pregnancies. Symptoms you might want to look out for are lightheadedness and strong cramps in the lower abdomen.

Molar pregnancy

Also known as gestational trophoblastic disease, this is a rare condition that occurs when there is abnormal tissue growing inside the uterus as opposed to a fetus. The tissue could be cancerous, but this is in very rare cases. Symptoms of a molar pregnancy include: quick uterus enlargement, severe nausea and consequent vomiting.


A cervical, vaginal or sexually transmitted infection may be responsible for bleeding within the first trimester.

Cervical changes

The cervix undergoes extreme changes during pregnancy. The extra blood flow may be responsible for the bleeding and such bleeding is quite harmless. A pap smear and intercourse also may trigger bleeding.

Important Notes:

It’s important that you realize the difference between spotting and bleeding. As you may have guessed, spotting is quite minimal while bleeding is much heavier and you might need to wear a pad or panty liner.

What Can I Do When I Have Bleeding During Early Pregnancy?

As mentioned, bleeding during early pregnancy is not always a sign of a complication, but you still must not ignore it. For starters, seek medical attention. It also helps to wear a pad and this not only helps to prevent leakage on your clothes, but you are able to keep track of the extent of bleeding. Record the bleeding such as the color of the blood and its nature particularly if it’s smooth or clotted. If it’s full of clots, carry a sample tissue for testing and it is recommended that you do not have sex or use tampons while bleeding. In normal cases, the doctor will ask you to take an ultrasound to find out the cause of the bleeding. Both abdominal and vaginal ultrasounds may be conducted.

If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911 or make your way to the emergency room:

  • Severe bleeding
  • Intense cramps and pain
  • Tissue discharge
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fever and chills

You can watch this video to learn more about what you can do when bleeding during early pregnancy happens:

Will My Baby Be Safe If I'm Bleeding During Early Pregnancy?

Bleeding and spotting are normally harmless and a lot of pregnancies carry on to full term, which means that your baby will be safe. In fact, spotting will more often than not stop on its own. It’s important to always seek medical attention even if the spotting or bleeding stops on its own. This helps rule out the presence of underlying complications. If you develop cramps and heavy bleeding, this may be a sign of a miscarriage. Most pregnant women who seek medical attention end up keeping the pregnancy to full term. Seeking medical attention may save your baby.

When you experience bleeding, be positive. Remember that worrying and stress may affect you and the baby.

What Else Should I Know About Bleeding During Early Pregnancy?

Bleeding and spotting are not rare occurrences during the first trimester. The good news as we have learnt that the bleeding may be harmless. However, when bleeding occurs during the second or third trimester of pregnancy, it’s more risky and it could be a sign of a complication. Bleeding during pregnancy could be as a result of various reasons as we have learnt. There are some basic things that you need to be aware of:

  • Avoid introducing things such as tampons into the vaginal area. Also avoid sex and douching.
  • Always wear a panty liner or pad depending on the extent of the bleeding. This is to monitor how much blood you are losing. Keep tabs on the nature of the bleeding.
  • Most importantly, seek medical attention immediately when you notice spotting or bleeding.