Pregnancy can create joy and anxiety. Waiting for the birth of your baby and feeling him moving inside your belly may bring great excitement, while worrying about his health and the state of your pregnancy can have you on edge. The appearance of vaginal blood can cause you to wonder if something may be wrong. Some women experience vaginal bleeding during normal, healthy pregnancies. Knowing what causes vaginal bleeding can help you determine the difference between normal symptoms and ones that require a visit to your doctor.
First Trimester Bleeding
Bleeding in the first trimester can have a number of causes. These first 12 weeks of pregnancy provide several opportunities for normal bleeding, as well as the greatest likelihood of miscarriage. Implantation bleeding often occurs when the fertilized egg attaches to the wall of the uterus. This occurs between six and 12 days after conception. Some women experience slight spotting after intercourse, due to cervical changes. Early bleeding may also indicate an impending miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy that grows outside the uterus.
Bleeding in Later Pregnancy
Bleeding later in your pregnancy can also come from an inflamed or irritated cervix. Preterm labor can cause bleeding during the second half of your pregnancy. The release of the mucus plug, also known as bloody show, normally appears near the end of your term. This thick discharge provides a sign that your body is getting ready for labor and delivery.
Normal symptoms include light spotting near the beginning of your pregnancy. Some women experience nothing more than a single spot of blood, while others may have light bleeding or spotting for a day or two. This normally occurs about the time of your expected period, causing some women to mistake this for a light period. The next normal episode of bleeding usually occurs near your due date and involves the release of the mucus plug.
Certain conditions that cause bleeding during pregnancy can threaten your health and the health of your baby. Miscarriage usually happens within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy but can occur later. Problems with the placenta may cause bleeding later in your pregnancy. A placenta that attaches too low or begins to detach from the uterine wall can cause heavy bleeding and pain. Women with previous uterine surgeries can experience bleeding due to a ruptured uterus.
When to Contact Your Doctor
Heavy bleeding at any time during your pregnancy may indicate a problem. Cramping and pain with or without bleeding also require your doctor’s attention. Depending on your medical history and symptoms, your doctor may want to run some tests to determine the cause of your bleeding and the best treatment plan. Consult your doctor anytime you feel concern over your health, your pregnancy and your developing baby.
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