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Bleeding During Early Pregnancy

If you’ve had bleeding early in your pregnancy, you’re not alone. Many other pregnant women have had early bleeding, too. And in most cases, nothing is wrong. But your health care provider still needs to know about it. He or she may want to do tests to find out why you’re bleeding. Call your health care provider if you notice bleeding during pregnancy.

Woman's reproductive system showing the embryo implanted on the uterine wall

What Causes Early Bleeding?

The cause of bleeding early in pregnancy is often unknown. But many factors early on in pregnancy may lead to bleeding or spotting, including sexual intercourse, which may cause bleeding in any trimester. Here are some other causes:

  • Implantation of the embryo on the uterine wall

  • Miscarriage

  • Ectopic (tubal) pregnancy

If You Notice Spotting

Spotting (very light bleeding) is the most common type of bleeding in early pregnancy. If you notice it, call your health care provider. Chances are, he or she will tell you that you can care for yourself at home. You may need to:

  • Exercise less and work less. Your health care provider will discuss the details with you.

  • Refrain from sexual intercourse until the bleeding stops.

Woman having an ultrasound.

If Tests Are Needed

Depending on how much you bleed, your doctor or other health care provider may ask you to come in for some tests. A pelvic exam, for instance, can help see how far along your pregnancy is. You also may have an ultrasound or a Doppler test. These imaging tests use sound waves to check the health of your fetus. The ultrasound may be done on your belly or inside your vagina. Your doctor also may order a special blood test. This test compares your hormone levels in blood samples taken 2 days apart. The results can show how long you’ve been pregnant. Your blood type will also need to be checked to evaluate whether you will need to be treated for Rh sensitization. 

Warning Signs

If your bleeding doesn’t stop or if you notice any of the following, seek  medical help right away:

  • Soaking a sanitary pad each hour

  • Bleeding like you’re having a period

  • Cramping or severe abdominal pain

  • Feeling dizzy or faint

  • Tissue passing through your vagina

  • Bleeding at any time after the first trimester

Questions You May Be Asked

Though not normal, bleeding early in pregnancy is common. If you’ve noticed any bleeding, you may be concerned. But keep in mind that bleeding alone doesn’t mean something is wrong. Call your health care provider right away, though. He or she may ask you questions like these to help find the cause of your bleeding:

  • When did your bleeding start?

  • Is your bleeding very light (spotting) or is it like a period?

  • Is the blood bright red or brownish?

  • Have you had sexual intercourse recently?

  • Have you had pain or cramping?

  • Have you felt dizzy or faint?

Monitoring Your Pregnancy

Bleeding will often stop as quickly as it began. Your pregnancy may go on a normal path again. You may need to make a few extra prenatal visits. But you and your baby will most likely be fine.

 

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