Spotting or Bleeding During Pregnancy: What to Expect and How to React to Each Situation

First of all when encountering a phenomena like bleeding, the natural question is: is it normal to bleed when pregnant?

In order to understand the topic and be able to provide proper answers we should initially define spotting and bleeding.

  • Spotting is to be considered a very light amount of blood occurring similarly to the first day or the last one of a female menstrual period. As far as color is concerned it can vary in one of the ranges of the red color family.
  • Bleeding, on the other hand, can be considered amounts of blood that are experienced similarly to the menstrual period days. As far as color is concerned, bleeding is usually characterized with a deep red color. Bleeding can  sometimes be heavy whilst other times may be lighter.

What are the main concerns of spotting or bleeding during pregnancy?

Once you know you are pregnant even the smallest amount or spot of blood is a cause of trouble. Even whilst experiencing light spotting during pregnancy we strongly suggest and advise that one should visit the doctor.

Heavy bleeding while pregnant should be cause for immediate alarm and medical attention should be sought as soon as possible.

Can you bleed at the beginning of pregnancy?

Definitely yes. Sometimes pregnancies make themselves known through bleeding or spotting. A woman might not even know that she is pregnant and she might even misinterpret this spotting or bleeding as her period. But pregnancy bleeding (or implantation bleeding) is usually lighter in color and lasts for less time than a period.  Again, it is very important to visit your health care practitioner.

Can you bleed at the beginning of pregnancy is a question health centers hear frequently. That is due to the fact that although most  women are aware of the implantation bleeding or spotting they still need to be reassured about this phenomena.

Spotting during first, second, third trimesters

Spotting during first, second, third trimester do differ in meaning and seriousness.

  • Spotting during first trimester is mostly associated with the above described implantation process. Usually this spotting does not occur longer than six to 12 days. The implantation bleeding is related to the process of the egg being attached to the uterus walls. Brown spotting during the first trimester is related to the process of implantation.

Heavy bleeding or discharge should be considered as risky. Bearing in mind the fact that not every woman can experience the same bleeding during pregnancy, it is highly advised to contact one’s health care practitioner, as bleeding can be a signal of a pregnancy loss. If necessary measures are taken in time the pregnancy can be saved. Other reasons for bleeding:

  • Hormonal alteration due to the pregnancy process
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Different types of infections.
  • Possible internal examination procedures undergone at the health care center.

Another health issue related to bleeding during the first trimester of pregnancy is “ectopic pregnancy.” This phenomenon happens when the fertilized egg does not attach itself to the uterus walls, but attaches outside of them.  There has not been a medical intervention developed to move the egg towards the uterus (from the outside to the inside). This means that if one is experiencing this type of pregnancy, it should be stopped as there is no other option.

Women should be aware of the fact that ectopic pregnancy is a condition categorized as highly life threatening; one has to be really careful in identifying possible symptoms of such a condition.

  • Spotting during the second trimester is not worrisome since it might be due to a vaginal checkup or even sexual intercourse. Usually spotting in this trimester has a brownish nature in terms of color but can even be identified as pink in color in certain experiences.

If it is believed that there were no external factors to cause spotting, the pregnant woman should immediately contact her health care practitioner in order to ensure her well-being. Emotional well-being and stress management are very important during pregnancy both for the mother and the baby.

If during any episodes of bleeding a woman is experiencing clots then this is a further cause of concern. It might be a serious sign of miscarriage and that is why it should not be left without immediate medical attention. Other reasons for bleeding or spotting:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Possible internal examination procedures undergone at the health care center

Spotting during the third trimester, unlike during the other two stages of  pregnancy, might be a serious sign of pregnancy threat. Bleeding at the third stage might mean that the mother or the baby is at risk and that is why mothers-to- be have to pay special attention. If they do experience any type of spotting or bleeding during this period they should promptly get in touch with the nearest health center or practitioner in order to seek medical examination or support. Other reasons for bleeding:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Possible internal examination procedures undergone at the health care center (at this stage they are more frequent than in the other stages of the pregnancy).
  • The process of the placenta covering the cervix. This might happen fully or even partly and it is being recognized as “Placenta Previa”
  • Placental abruption. This is considered to be a very rare condition since it is believed to affect no more than a very small percentage of pregnancies. This condition involves the placenta detaching itself from the uterus walls. This condition can involve severe vaginal bleeding. It is considered a high risk condition for both mother and baby.
  • Premature birth. When having reached the third trimester another concern associated with the bleeding phenomena is premature birth. Usually, if it is happening, it is associated with certain other health issues such as contractions and pressure in the pelvic pressure. This condition is considered high risk when prior to the 37th week of pregnancy; after the 37th week these symptoms are considered to be indications of a normal labor process.

 

You can now see that spotting during first, second, third trimester are not treated to the same extent of focus in terms of risk for the mother-to-be and her baby. Once spotting occurs in the third trimester, mother-to-be should immediately inform her health care practitioner of the situation to ensure the pregnancy progresses normally. No over the counter remedies should be taken without medical advice.

How long it is safe for you to have spotting when pregnant differs from pregnancy to pregnancy. The accepted safe period of spotting is a range of six to 12 days. If it continues longer than medical attention is recommended.

During periods of heavy bleeding during pregnancy the health care practitioner, after examination and elimination of serious factors causing bleeding, can recommend certain healthy habits in order to support a healthy pregnancy process. These habits might include the following ones:

  • Limiting or avoiding excessive activity
  • Increasing resting hours in order to manage stress
  • Decreasing walking for a certain period of time
  • Elevating your feet whenever possible
  • Practicing different relaxing techniques in order to avoid stressful situations

Most of the time spotting and bleeding are just occasional incidents that do not impact the overall health of a pregnant woman and her baby. But it is highly recommended that a health care practitioner or health care center be immediately contacted to be safe.

Coming to conclusions…

Coming back to our initial question “Is it normal to bleed when pregnant?” we can suggest that bleeding when pregnant is generally accepted as a non-risky factor. It is important to put the right emphasis on the care that should be taken when such symptoms do occur. As noted, spotting affects 20% of pregnant women during their first trimester, but the right examinations should be done in any case to avoid possible serious complications.

Heavy bleeding while pregnant during any stage, especially when associated with clotting, might be the sign of a possible miscarriage and so prompt action and medical care is vital to the mother and the baby.  These symptoms are strongly related to:

  • Unfortunate miscarriage
  • Detachment of the fetus from the uterus
  • Premature birth

Light spotting during pregnancy is usually experienced in the form of brown spotting, although it can have another color, such as pink for instance. This type of bleeding is usually considered safe and related to:

  • Implantation bleeding
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Vaginal examination in the health care center

To be taken into consideration:

Even though spotting might occur during pregnancy it is not always related to pregnancy itself. There are certain infections that might cause bleeding or spotting. As well as vaginal infections there are other ones that are transmitted through sexual intercourse like gonorrhea, herpes or chlamydia that might provoke the cervix so that it gets inflamed and bleeds.

When a pregnant woman experiences spotting or bleeding it is very important to sit,  calm down, and elevate the legs. Pregnancy highly affects women’s emotional state so keeping calm in this kind of situation is critical. Once the situation seems to have settled down, a health care practitioner or respective health care center should be contacted.

Bleeding does decrease levels of blood and in cases when the bleeding is continuous it can be associated with dizziness or vertigo. That is why it is recommended not to go to the health care center without being accompanied. If the health care practitioner suggests that there is no worrisome situation, then resting and avoiding physical engagement might alleviate the symptoms.

If it is evaluated that there might be a possible complication, certain examinations may be necessary.

The main questions a doctor might ask in such cases would be:

  • How severe the bleeding is
  • How long the bleeding lasted
  • The color of the blood
  • Other possible symptoms in the given period around the bleeding

The doctor might also ask about other pregnancy experiences if applicable or whether there have been any previous abortions or pregnancy losses in the past. The mother to be might be asked if she experienced her water breaking as if this happens labor is in starting phase. Specialists also might try to get some information about other conditions and risky elements that would complicate the situation even more, such as a palpitating heart or fainting.

Heavy bleeding while pregnant might be fatal to the pregnancy. The health care practitioner may additionally check the heart rate of the fetus and  monitor it for several hours after the bleeding has taken place. The health care practitioner may delicately push on the stomach area to decide how expansive the uterus is, whether it is delicate, and whether its muscle tone is typical. He will then do a pelvic examination and inspect the cervix utilizing an instrument that spreads the sides of the vagina.

Ordinarily when the labor phase is close, the health care practitioner analyzes the cervix with a gloved hand to decide how widened the cervix is and how the fetus is situated.

The health care practitioner might ask for other complex tests to be done in order to rule out every risk to the woman and to her baby. Some of them, the most usual, are:

  • A full blood score
  • Ultrasonography
  • Blood classification
  • Rh status (whether it is positive or negative)

Ultrasonography uses an ultrasound gadget which is inserted into the vagina. Otherwise called transvaginal ultrasonography, it is an important method to analyze the reason for bleeding and spotting during late pregnancy. It can indicate the area of the placenta, umbilical line, and the veins. Along these lines, it can help the health care practitioner to preclude or distinguish the placenta Previa and vasa Previa. Ultrasonography can’t dependably recognize placental separation from the uterus.

Laparotomy is done to affirm a cracked uterus. In this method, specialists make an entry point into the mid-region and pelvis with the goal to specifically see the uterus.

  • A total platelet check is finished. Blood classification and Rh status are resolved so that a giver with a good blood classification can be distinguished on the off chance that the woman needs a transfusion. On the off chance that draining is abundant or if placental separation is suspected, blood tests for dispersed intravascular coagulation are finished. These tests incorporate Prothrombin time and fractional thromboplastin time (to figure out if blood can clump ordinarily).
  • Estimation of substances that lead to blood coagulation (thickening components) and of proteins created when clusters are separated (fibrinogen and fibrin debasement items).

On the off chance that the lady has Rh-negative blood, a blood test might be done to gauge what number of the baby’s red platelets are in the mother-to-be’s circulatory system. The outcomes can help the health care practitioner to decide the amount of Rh0 (D) the mother to be ought to be given to keep her from creating antibodies that may assault the baby’s red platelets.

Returning home…

After being confirmed as out of risk, the mother-to-be is usually advised to return home and be in constant care of her family. To keep bleeding while pregnant under control, the health care practitioner might have prescribed certain drugs or other remedies to be taken, and the mother-to-be should  rigorously follow these instructions.

Women should be aware of the limitations caused by bleeding, which is why it is strongly advised to avoid certain daily activities:

  • Lifting weights
  • Hard work requiring lot of energy and stress
  • Riding bicycles
  • Cooking (since it requires time on feet)
  • Running
  • Stressful situations since they require a lot of energy calm down

Instead the mother-to-be is strongly encouraged to rest a lot more and get herself engaged in some quiet activities for the time being:

  • Reading
  • Applying relaxing techniques
  • Whatever keeps her busy without engaging in any particularly physical activity

These considerations are to be strictly followed until the end of the pregnancy and the reaching of labor phase.

Remember, not every spotting occasion is an issue or considered a risky situation.

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