Studies show that 20-30 percent of women experience some bleeding during early pregnancy. In the case of a miscarriage, you witness heavy bleeding, intense cramping, and tissue passing through the vagina. Light vaginal bleeding can occur due to implantation, infection, and intercourse. In rare cases, it could be a subchorionic hematoma, ectopic pregnancy, or molar pregnancy. There could be heavy bleeding; in such cases, you should immediately refer to your doctor, or it could be life-threatening. If you got your period and are still pregnant, it could be a rare case of decidual bleeding.
Pregnancy in the early stage can be challenging, especially for women with irregular periods. Most women get to know they’re pregnant after two or three months and sometimes even longer.
Up to 25% of all pregnant women tend to face some sort of bleeding or spotting during their pregnancy.
While it’s not always a sign of a problem, if you encounter heavy bleeding during pregnancy, it’s a sign to worry about.
Table of Contents
- Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
- Heavy bleeding and miscarriage
- How long do you bleed during a miscarriage?
- I got my periods, but I’m still pregnant
- 6 possible causes of bleeding during pregnancy
- To summarise
Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
According to the American Pregnancy Association, bleeding during the first trimester of the pregnancy is normal and not a cause of worry.
It could be a serious issue if the bleeding occurs during the second and third trimesters.
📌 The main thing to notice here is the frequency and amount of bleeding you’re witnessing. By wearing your pads, you can monitor this bleeding. If it’s light bleeding or spotting, which stops on its own, you don’t have to panic immediately.
If there’s heavy bleeding, it could be a sign of miscarriage.
Heavy bleeding and miscarriage
Bleeding doesn’t always mean you’re witnessing a miscarriage.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, 15-20% of all pregnancies result in a miscarriage, most of which occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Sings of miscarriage
- Vaginal bleeding
- Severe cramping pain felt low in the stomach
- Tissue passing through the vagina
It can be tricky to know if you’re on your period or having a miscarriage, especially if you don’t know you’re pregnant.
You might believe it’s your regular cycle, and your menstruation is a bit more painful this time.
Miscarriage could start as slight bleeding or spotting, leading to more heavy bleeding. Or it could simply start as heavy bleeding.
- It’s more common in the first trimester compared to the second trimester of pregnancy.
- It only happens in 2-3% of pregnancies during the second trimester and is faced with heavier blood loss.
It’s evident that if you’re carrying more than one fetus, the bleeding would be more and heavier in nature.
Identifying it in terms of color can range from red to brown to pink, and the density could also be heavier, containing clots and tissue.
How long do you bleed during a miscarriage?
A miscarriage can be difficult to identify if you don’t know you are pregnant, and it takes place in the first trimester of the pregnancy.
How far along you were in the pregnancy can change the amount of bleeding, and it will continue until your body expels all the tissue out of the body.
It could be followed by lighter bleeding after the miscarriage for another couple of weeks.
Keeping track of your vaginal bleeding is the best to identify if there’s an issue.
With normal periods you know the pattern of bleeding, including days that the bleeding is heavier, frequency of cramps, and other possible symptoms.
If the bleeding isn’t normal and different from your previous periods, it’s better to visit your OB-GYN. They’ll ask you routine questions and maybe run a few tests, like an ultrasound, to determine the cause of heavy bleeding.
If you’re having a miscarriage, remember it can’t be prevented or stopped. Think of it as a way of your body dealing with an unhealthy pregnancy that wasn’t developing.
It doesn’t mean your future pregnancies are being affected in any way.
Dealing with pregnancy loss can be tough, especially if you weren’t expecting to get pregnant.
Seek appropriate medical care and include dealing with it mentally and emotionally.
I got my periods, but I’m still pregnant
It’s possible to face this rare occurrence where you think you’re having periods but find out you’re still pregnant.
Decidual bleeding occurs when a small part of the uterine lining sheds for the first few months of early pregnancy.
It’s not actually periods, but it can be mistaken for periods as it looks similar.
It could cause rare cases of pregnancy where women don’t know they’re pregnant even if they missed periods causing irregular periods that are common for many women.
Also known as the first trimester of bleeding, women should always report any kind of bleeding they’re witnessing during their pregnancy if they realize they’re pregnant in the first place.
6 possible causes of bleeding during pregnancy
Bleeding during the first trimester is common and can be due to various causes. Not all vaginal bleeding cases during early pregnancy results in a miscarriage.
1. Implantation bleeding
Light bleeding or spotting occurs 10 to 14 days after conceiving the baby.
It could happen when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus and happens around the time when you expect your menstruation.
It could also be mistaken for a light period, so mothers might not know they’re pregnant.
2. Vaginal infection
An infection in the vagina can also trigger bleeding in the first trimester. But treating the infection can make things better and eliminate the bleeding completely.
3. Vaginal sex
During pregnancy, the cervix is already sensitive, and sometimes having sexual intercourse during this period can cause light bleeding.
Anything penetrating the cervix might cause bleeding, but it’s not a cause of concern.
4. Subchorionic hematoma
Subchorionic bleeding is when the blood forms between the wall of the uterus and the chorionic membrane during pregnancy.
This membrane is the outermost layer separating your baby’s amniotic sac from the wall of your uterus.
It rarely causes any complications in the pregnancy and usually shrinks in size on its own without needing any treatment.
This bleeding witnessed could be heavy with blood clots or light spotting. There’s also abdominal cramping.
These happen in rare cases only, and if your bleeding increases with painful cramping, you might want to contact your doctor.
5. Ectopic pregnancy
In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg implants and grows outside the main cavity of the uterus.
It mainly occurs in the fallopian tube, which carries eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. The early warning signs include light vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain.
If blood leaks from the fallopian tube, you may feel shoulder pain or an urge to have a bowel movement.
The symptoms might differ depending on where the blood collects and which nerves are irritated.
If the fertilized egg continues to grow without getting noticed, it could also result in a rupture with heavy bleeding and life-threatening events.
These are much less common than a miscarriage, but women with an infection in the tubes, a previous ectopic pregnancy, and previous pelvic surgery are at a higher risk. Treatment is needed on time to prevent a rupture.
6. Molar pregnancy
It’s a placenta abnormality caused by a problem when the egg and sperm join together at fertilization.
It’s a rare genetic condition that leads to abnormal tissue growth within the uterus.
Other than vaginal bleeding, there could be nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, and increased hCG levels.
It could also end on its own as your body expels the tissue from the body, or a procedure or medication could treat it.
Having a molar pregnancy can be hard on women emotionally and physically, and make sure if that’s the case, you’re getting appropriate medical and mental help.
What are the causes of vaginal bleeding during the second and third trimesters?
Bleeding during the second or third trimester could harm the woman and the fetus. It could be caused by potential issues like placental abruption, placenta previa, preterm labor, or even miscarriage.
Though slight bleeding during the first trimester isn’t a major cause of concern, if you experience it in your second or third trimester, seek immediate medical help.
Can you have a full heavy period and still be pregnant?
If you’re witnessing heavy periods during the pregnancy, it could be a potential case of miscarriage.
Painful cramps in the abdomen and the passing of tissue through the vagina are other symptoms.
If you’re observing heavy periods which are getting more serious, seek immediate medical care.
Only if you’re experiencing slight vaginal bleeding could it be normal and acceptable because it could be caused due to multiple reasons.
Finding out your early pregnancy ended in a miscarriage can be difficult. Even if you never wanted this pregnancy, it still takes a mental toll on the person going through the loss.
While heavy bleeding is associated with miscarriage, that’s not always the case. Pregnant women in their first trimester can get vaginal bleeding for multiple reasons.
Normal vaginal bleeding during pregnancy is lighter and shouldn’t be heavy, but it could be a sign of a severe issue. Get this checked out by your doctor. Don’t depend on home pregnancy tests but refer to your doctor.