Pregnancy is usually identified with stopped menstruation. If you have conceived, then under normal circumstances, your periods would stop for the next nine months, but in some cases, pregnancy may be accompanied by vaginal bleeding. This bleeding can give sleepless nights to any pregnant woman and in some cases, even lead to undetected pregnancy for a very long time.
But, why does this bleeding occur and is it normal or a symptom of bad health? Actually, the seriousness of vaginal bleeding depends on its time and intensity. At different stages during pregnancy, it may have different implications.
Is Bleeding During Pregnancy Normal?
You may be surprised to know that bleeding is fairly common in pregnancy, and quite a number of women experience this, at one stage or another of their pregnancy. This type of bleeding is not at all associated with your periods, but is caused due to an entirely different set of reasons.
Some of these are common and harmless, while other can be fairly harmful. The possible implications and causes of this bleeding also vary on the stage of pregnancy. But, whatever be the reason, it is always better to consult your doctor, to reduce the risk of developing an unhealthy pregnancy.
Common Causes of Bleeding During First Trimester of Pregnancy
Under normal circumstances, some women may experience bleeding in the first trimester of their pregnancy. There are many harmless reasons for this kind of bleeding.
When the zygote attaches itself to the endometrium, i.e. the wall of the uterus, it eats away the lining and in the process some blood vessels of the uterus. This results into light implantation bleeding. This bleeding is experienced by about 25% of pregnant women and is totally harmless. The bleeding is very light and blood that comes out is of brown or pink color. This bleeding occurs after 6 to 12 days of fertilization and may last up to a few hours, or even a couple of days.
Bleeding Due to Infection
If you have got an infection of some kind in your urinary tract then also you may experience light bleeding.
Sometimes a pregnant woman may bleed after intercourse also. This happens as the cervix becomes extremely sensitive and tender and gets damaged during the intercourse.
Possible Problems Associated With Bleeding During The First Half Of Pregnancy
If bleeding is not due to any of the above mentioned reasons, then it may also be a possible indication of some problem with your pregnancy. In the first trimester, vaginal bleeding may also lead to miscarriage, molar pregnancy or even ectopical pregnancy.
In about 15 to 20 percent of women, miscarriage occurs during the first trimester of pregnancy. In most of the cases, it is because the pregnancy was not developing in a healthy way.
But, it does not mean in any way, that you cannot have a healthy pregnancy later on. The symptoms accompanying bleeding during miscarriage are, passing of tissue through vagina and cramps in the lower abdomen.
In some rare cases, bleeding may also indicate development of a molar pregnancy. This kind of pregnancy is not an actual pregnancy and there is no embryo, rather there is an implantation and growth of any abnormal tissue in the uterus. In this case, an ultrasound will reveal clusters of cells which are grape like in structure, there would be no heart beats of fetus and there would be high hCG levels in blood of the woman.
When the zygote implants anywhere other than the uterus, it is known as ectopic pregnancy. This type of pregnancy can be dangerous and is accompanied by symptoms, like vaginal bleeding, cramps in lower part of stomach and abdomen and lower hCG levels. You can be at higher risk of developing this kind of pregnancy, if you have had a pelvic surgery before, or there is infection in your fallopian tubes, or you have already had an ectopic pregnancy previously.
Possible Reasons for Bleeding During Second Half of Pregnancy
Bleeding is not common in second and third trimesters of pregnancy. But, in some women, it can occur due to inflammation in cervix or even due to some extra outgrowths in cervix. These are not dangerous, and can be dealt with, by simple medications and nutritional changes.
But, many times the bleeding during later stages of pregnancy can be sign of bigger trouble. The problems that can cause vaginal bleeding during second half of your pregnancy include placenta previa, preterm labor and placental abruption.
Sometimes the placenta may lie quite low, near the cervix. As the pregnancy advances, it gradually covers the entire cervix. It may also cause bleeding, but without pain.
It is quite serious condition and requires immediate medical help. You are at a higher risk of developing this condition if you are carrying twins, or had children before, or had birth with caesarian methods or even if you have had uterine surgeries before.
The vaginal bleeding caused due to placental abruption is not very common condition. It happens, when the placenta detaches itself from the wall of the uterus. It mostly occurs during the third trimester, either before or during the labor. Women already having children, or above 35 years of age, or having sickle cell anemia, or having high blood pressure or having some kind of injuries to the stomach, fall in the high risk zone. In this case, bleeding is accompanied by pain in the stomach.
During the final few weeks of your pregnancy, vaginal bleeding may occur as a sign of preterm labor. In this condition, a mucous plug is passed out through your vagina, consisting of blood and mucous. This mucous plug covers the opening of your uterus and when it is passed, the mouth of the embryonic sac opens for delivery.
If you have observed such bleeding, then you should immediately see your physician and ask for required help and precautionary measures. Other symptoms accompanying bleeding in this condition are pressure in the lower abdomen or pelvic region, stomach cramps, vaginal discharge comprising of bloody or watery mucous, and regular uterine contractions.
Bleeding during pregnancy can be normal or a sign for a possible complication. So, it is always better that you consult your doctor, to ensure that your pregnancy is healthy and there are no complications in it.