Bleeding during pregnancy
Any type of bleeding during pregnancy can be distressing and cause concern. Slight bleeding occurring during the first trimester is usually normal posing no risk to the mother and baby. However, a health care provide should always be consulted if the pregnant female suffers from:
- Heavy bleeding
- Chronic pain in the shoulder or abdomen
- Odd vaginal smell
- Bleeding continues in the second and third trimester of pregnancy
Bleeding during the first trimester
Approximately 20% of females have bleeding during the first three months of pregnancy. Bleeding during first trimester of pregnancy can be due to:
- Implantation bleeding: It is seen during the first 2 weeks after the woman has conceived. It is considered normal. Some women may even mistake this bleeding to be normal periods. Usually it is very light bleeding and may last for a couple of hours to a couple of days.
- Miscarriage: As miscarriage generally occurs within the first twelve weeks of pregnancy; therefore, it is one of the greatest concerns with bleeding during first trimester. However, if a heart beat is found on ultrasound, more than 90% females with bleeding during first trimester will not miscarry.
- Ectopic or tubal pregnancy: It is a rare condition in which the foetus implants in the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus. If not diagnosed early, the growing embryo may cause the fallopian tube to rupture leading to bleeding.
- Molar pregnancy: Another rare condition, in which unusual tissue growth occurs in the uterus instead of the fetus. This growth can be cancerous and cause bleeding.
- Infection: Urinary tract infection or infection in the pelvic cavity can cause vaginal bleeding.
Bleeding during the second and third trimester
Bleeding rarely occurs during the second and third trimester of pregnancy. However, if it occurs it should be taken seriously. Possible causes of bleeding during these trimesters may include:
- Cervical check-ups: Especially during the third trimester can lead to vaginal bleeding.
- Sexual intercourse
- Placental abruption: The placenta may detach from the uterine wall during or before labour leading to pooling of blood between the uterus and placenta.
- Premature labor is associated with bleeding and cramps in the lower abdomen, diarrhoea, low back pain and pelvic pressure. This may cause serious complications during delivery.
- Placenta covering the opening of cervix (placenta previa). It is a rare condition, in which bleeding occurs without any pain. The condition, therefore, can be life-threatening and need immediate attention.
Your physician may take complete medical history and perform vaginal examination to check for the size of uterus and the amount of bleeding. Other tests that may be performed include:
- Blood tests: Blood tests are done to measure the level of hormones in blood during pregnancy.
- Ultrasound: An ultrasound scan is performed to check the baby in detail. The test takes 15 to 20 minutes.
Bleeding during pregnancy usually stops itself in a day or two. However, excessive vaginal bleeding in any trimester is abnormal; therefore, the woman should keep a record of the bleeding. To track the bleeding, women should:
- Wear pads instead of tampons
- Avoid sexual intercourse
- Avoid douching
Bleeding during pregnancy can be managed at home by:
- Taking rest
- Using pads instead of tampons
- Avoiding sexual intercourse
- Taking pain relieving medicines
- Not lifting heavy weights
- Drinking plenty of water
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