Seeing blood is a common phenomenon for most women as they have their periods every month. But seeing blood is definitely a scary experience for a pregnant woman, as it signifies that something is very wrong.
Blood loss while expecting is not a sure shot indication of a mishap. Pregnant woman can experience two types of bleeding- vaginal bleeding and spotting. While spotting is common and not that worrisome, but bleeding purposefully during pregnancy is problematic.
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Spotting is pinkish brown in color, similar to the blood when a menstrual period is about to end. Moreover, like the name suggests, spotting is very infrequent and light in flow. On the other hand, vaginal bleeding is red in color and heavy enough to soak into your sanitary pad.
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Light spotting during early pregnancy isn’t necessarily a bad signal and might be caused due to the following reasons:
In the most initial stages of pregnancy, around one-third of women experience this kind of bleeding as the embryo implants itself into the uterus wall. It generally takes place around the time of your expected menstruation date, tricking you into believing that you’re having your regular periods.
As pregnancy increases the blood supply to your cervical region, it becomes tender and vulnerable. Any further strain, on this region leads to light spotting. This is the reason why you bleed a little after any internal pelvic exam.
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Mild blood spotting after sexual intercourse again due to the same reasons as above. At times, you might also notice some small growth on your cervix, called as cervical polyps. Why cervical polyps happens is not really known but it can also lead to spotting post an intercourse.
Subchorionic haemorrhage refers to a situation whereby bleeding takes place inside the folds of the chorion (fetal membrane encircling placenta) and the placenta itself. This type of spotting happens in the early stages of pregnancy and comes to a halt on its own. It does not interfere or cause any harm with the pregnancy. However, it is still advisable to get it diagnosed and treated in time.
At times, spotting might even be caused even by reasons that are not directly related to pregnancy. Various infections in the vagina such as yeast infection or STDs like gonorrhoea, herpes or chlamydia can also irritate the cervix, leading to spotting.
As the time of labor approaches, women lose their mucus plug. This is indicative of a dilating cervix or an early labor. If this takes place when you’re already into the 37th week of pregnancy, it shouldn’t be a problem. However, do consult your doctor if the blood loss is heavy.
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Unlike spotting, vaginal bleeding during pregnancy is not something to be ignored as it is a sign that indicates complications. It is advisable to seek medical intervention to analyse the cause and begin the treatment. Following are some possible reasons for vaginal bleeding during pregnancy:
Molar pregnancy refers to an uncommon condition that occurs when the tissue that generally develops into a fetus, rather forms into an abnormal growth in the placenta. It is deceptive in the sense that it prompts the symptoms of pregnancy. Even though molar pregnancy isn’t threatening, it must be treated at the earliest. It can take place a few days or weeks post “conception” and bleeding occurs when the tissue gets removed.
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Ectopic pregnancy is another unusual condition wherein the fertilized egg gets implanted outside the uterus, and into the fallopian tube. It causes severe pain and cramps in the abdominal area. Other symptoms like fatigue, faintness, and nausea might also accompany. Since this condition can pose serious threats to the life of a woman, as the fallopian tube can burst. It must be treated at the earliest possible.
Also known as miscarriage or spontaneous abortion, pregnancy loss is one of the major terrors associated with bleeding during pregnancy.
It generally takes place during the initial three months of pregnancy and combines symptoms like pain in the lower abdomen and cramps. Almost 50% of the expecting women, who experience heavy vaginal bleeding with the above mentioned symptoms, experience a pregnancy loss.
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Bleeding in the later stages of pregnancy is generally triggered by problems in placenta, cervix or vagina. Here are some causes of vaginal bleeding in second and third trimesters of pregnancy:
Placental abruption is a condition wherein the placenta detaches immaturely from the uterus, thus causing blood to accumulate in the area in between. It generally takes place in the later half of second trimester or the third trimester and is triggered by factors like prior placental abruption, stress, or hypertension. If an expecting mother smokes or uses cocaine then also this kind of bleeding is known to happen.
Various discomforts like cramping, back ache or abdominal pain accompany this condition. It is important to note that the level of separation of placenta from uterus decides whether there will be any harm to the baby or not.
Placenta previa is the most frequent reason of bleeding during the later stages of pregnancy. This can occur in both the second and third trimesters. It takes place when the placenta is positioned low in the uterus and wholly or partially covers the cervix.
This leads to vaginal bleeding. It might be triggered due to factors like earlier C-section birth, a history of placenta previa or multiple pregnancies. However, during labor, as the cervix starts dilating, the placenta might correct itself.
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Fetal vessel rupturing is a very uncommon condition that occurs in one out of five thousand pregnancy cases. Vasa previa often occurs with a low-lying placenta or an unusually formed placenta.
In this condition, the blood vessels within the placenta or the umbilical cord get trapped between the fetus and the opening to the birth canal. This situation carries a high risk that the fetus may die from hemorrhage due to a blood vessel tearing during labor and delivery.
Labor that takes place between 20th to 37th week of pregnancy is termed as early labor. Early labor can be caused because of a host of factors such as family history, improper diet, drug abuse, hypertension, etc.
As the labor arrives early, the loss of mucus plug is also earlier than it would be in case of a full term delivery. Various symptoms like backache, cramps, regular contractions, and strain on pelvic muscles can also happen along with vaginal bleeding.
A scar from your previous cesarean delivery might cause an unusual condition of the uterus splitting into two parts. This might lead to the expelling of the fetus into the womb and poses serious threats to both the mother and the unborn baby. It can occur prior to or during labor.
Various factors like multiple pregnancies, stress, or over consumption of oxytocin medications can trigger the rupturing of uterus.
Any kind of cancer and more specifically cervical cancer can also cause vaginal bleeding during a pregnancy. While the cancer itself doesn’t affect the baby, but the treatment does. If cervical cancer is screened early, some doctors recommend monitoring it throughout the pregnancy and treating it after the baby is born.
Varicose veins are gnarled or enlarged veins. While any vein can become varicose, but most commonly affected are veins in the legs and feet.
During pregnancy the risk of varicose veins increases. This is because the blood volume reaching your lower body increases while the “flow” itself slows down. This puts additional pressure on veins and can cause bleeding.
Many women experience ovarian cysts throughout their life, starting from when they begin menstruating. If a woman has an existing cyst or one begins to grow during a pregnancy, then it can also cause bleeding.
You must know that while mild bleeding during pregnancy is normal, profuse or heavy bleeding that can soak up your sanitary napkin is not. In both the cases, it is always better to err on side of caution and consult your doctor right away.
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