Noticing blood in the toilet or on your underwear during pregnancy can certainly cause a scare. However, it doesn’t always mean that something has gone wrong with your pregnancy.
The expert OB/GYNs at New England Women’s Healthcare in Woburn, Massachusetts, have helped many pregnant women navigate bleeding during pregnancy, and most go on to have a normal, healthy pregnancy.
First, it’s important to know when to call your doctor and when to seek emergency care for bleeding during pregnancy. Bleeding is generally classified into two categories: spotting and heavy bleeding.
Light bleeding or spotting
Don’t freak out. Many women experience light bleeding, also called spotting, during pregnancy. Women experience spotting for a number of reasons, which we’ll cover below. Spotting is not always a cause for concern, but it’s still a good idea to call your doctor and explain your symptoms.
Heavy bleeding during pregnancy
Call your doctor right away or seek emergency medical care, such as at an urgent care center. Heavy bleeding at any point during pregnancy (heavy enough to need a pad or tampon to absorb it) can indicate pregnancy complications or health issues in mom.
Spotting during the first trimester
Many women experience spotting during the first trimester — an estimated 25%, in fact. While spotting during the first trimester can indicate problems, that’s not always the case. Spotting that lasts just a day or two and isn’t accompanied by other symptoms usually isn’t anything to worry about.
Spotting during your first trimester may indicate:
- Implantation bleeding (a sign that the embryo is implanting into your uterus)
- Carrying multiples (which may increase the chances of implantation bleeding)
- Cervical polyps
- Cervical irritation, such as from a medical exam or sexual intercourse
- Infections, such as a urinary tract infection or yeast infection
- An ectopic pregnancy (this is a medical emergency)
- A molar pregnancy, which can lead to miscarriage
As you can see, some of those potential culprits require medical attention, so if you’re spotting during your first trimester, it’s a good idea to see your doctor.
Definitely call your doctor if your spotting lasts more than two days or is accompanied by symptoms like dizziness, severe nausea, headaches, and abdominal pain.
Spotting during the second and third trimester
Bleeding later in pregnancy is typically more serious than bleeding early in pregnancy. Again, heavy bleeding is more of a concern than spotting, but even light bleeding can indicate the following complications:
- Cervix inflammation or growths, such as polyps
- Placenta problems, including placental abruption, vasa previa, and placenta previa
- A missed miscarriage
- Early labor
To sum up, light bleeding during pregnancy — especially early pregnancy — is not always a cause for concern. Heavy bleeding at any point during pregnancy and any bleeding in your second or third trimester may indicate problems.
Call your doctor any time you experience bleeding, even if just to rule out pregnancy complications. Seek emergency care if you experience heavy bleeding, especially if you’re passing clots of blood and have symptoms such as dizziness and cramping.
Have questions about pregnancy? Come on in to our Woburn, Massachusetts, clinic. Make an appointment by calling 781-787-3003, requesting a time slot online, or sending a message to our team.