Is it Normal to Bleed During Pregnancy?

Bleeding During Pregnancy: Everything You Need to Know

Bleeding during pregnancy can definitely be jarring. But, the good news is, it's not always a cause for concern. Learn what’s considered normal bleeding, what to do if you are pregnant and notice bleeding and when to consult your doctor.

Normal Bleeding

Pregnant woman sitting on exercise mat

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Light bleeding during the first trimester of pregnancy is actually pretty common. In fact, it happens to about 20 percent of pregnant women. Here are some of the causes of bleeding that are considered normal.

Implantation Bleeding. Some women experience light bleeding or spotting about six to 12 days after conception. This is known as implantation bleeding and is a result of the fertilized egg implanting itself into the uterus wall. Implantation bleeding is light and is typically a lighter color than a normal period and is often accompanied with mild cramps.

After Your Initial OB Exam. Most doctors want to see their pregnant patients right around nine weeks so they can confirm the pregnancy and perform a physical exam. This exam usually consists of a thorough assessment of your pelvic area, including your cervix, uterus and vagina. Your doctor will also probably conduct a pap smear. Many women experience some light bleeding and cramping after this exam.

Increased Blood Flow. Pregnancy causes extra blood to flow to your cervix, making it more sensitive. This can lead to light bleeding early on in your pregnancy, especially after having sex.

Not So Normal Bleeding

There are a few instances of bleeding during pregnancy that aren't considered normal. If you notice any of the following, get in touch with your doctor.

Infections. If you have a sexually transmitted infection, like chlamydia, gonorrhea or herpes, you might experience some bleeding during your first trimester. Call your doctor if you suspect you have one of these, so you be evaluated and start treatment if needed.

Second or Third Trimester Bleeding. Bleeding in your second or third trimester isn’t typically normal unless it’s after a pelvic exam. So, if you notice it, definitely let your doctor know.

Heavy Bleeding. Spotting during your first trimester is pretty common; however, heavy bleeding that’s similar or worse to your period flow is not. If you notice heavy bleeding, get in touch with your doctor right away.

What to Do If You Are Bleeding

Pregnant woman sitting on exercise mat

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There are two main things you can do if you notice any bleeding or spotting during your pregnancy.

Put on a Pad. This will help you keep track of how much you are bleeding. Plus, it will be helpful for your doctor, who will definitely want to know how much blood or spotting you’ve had. Whatever you do, don’t use a tampon. Stick to pads.

Call Your Doctor. It’s always a good idea to let your doctor know if you notice any bleeding during your pregnancy, especially if it occurs in the second or third trimester. Plus, bleeding before the 37th week of pregnancy can be a sign of pre-term labor, so checking in with your doctor is always the best course of action.

You should also certainly contact your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms along with bleeding:

  • Cramps
  • Lower back pain
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Dizziness/lightheadedness
  • Shoulder pain
  • Fainting spells
  • Chills
  • Fever