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Bleeding During Pregnancy: What's Normal and What's Not?

Vaginal bleeding of any type during pregnancy is reason enough to call to Capital Women’s Care to be sure it is nothing serious. If the providers are concerned, they’ll have you come in for an appointment.

In many cases, bleeding during pregnancy is completely normal. Where you are in your pregnancy and the severity of the bleeding provide clues as to whether what you’re experiencing is normal or a cause for concern.

Do wear a pad so you can track the amount you’re bleeding; do not wear a tampon or introduce something into your vagina if you’re currently bleeding and pregnant. Observe the color of the blood and whether it has tissue included. These details help the team at Capital Women’s Care evaluate the severity of your situation.

Call 911 if your bleeding is accompanied by intense cramps, a fever of 100.4 or higher, or vaginal discharge that contains tissue. If the bleeding is profuse or you’re dizzy, you should also call 911.

Cervical changes and infection

You have extra blood flowing through your body during pregnancy, including to the cervix. Sexual intercourse or even a Pap test performed during a regular pelvic exam can trigger bleeding but isn’t a cause for concern in pregnancy.

Some infections, including STIs, can cause bleeding in the first trimester. These usually don’t endanger the viability of your pregnancy, but should be addressed as soon as possible by Capital Women’s Care.

Implantation bleeding

In the first six to 12 days following conception, you may have light bleeding as the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus. The bleeding is mild and lasts just a few hours or, sometimes, a few days. If you aren’t aware you’re pregnant, you may mistake it for a light period or spotting.


Miscarriage most often occurs within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. First trimester bleeding can be a sign of miscarriage, especially if accompanied by intense cramps and tissue passed along with the bleeding. Know that in 90% of women who have first trimester bleeding, a miscarriage does not occur. Seek a doctor’s care, but don’t panic.

Ectopic pregnancy

In about 2% of pregnancies, the embryo implants outside of the uterus and is not sustainable. It can cause bleeding, strong cramps, lower abdominal pain, and dizziness.

Molar pregnancy

A molar pregnancy is rare, but a potential cause of bleeding early in your pregnancy. When abnormal tissue grows inside the uterus, instead of an embryo, it can cause vaginal bleeding. Because it still stimulates high levels of pregnancy hormones, you may think you’re really pregnant, but an ultrasound reveals no fetal heart rate and grape-like clusters in the uterus.

Bleeding in the second and third trimester

Bleeding in the second and third trimester is rarer and is often a reason for concern. Any bleeding may worry you, but it can be a sign of an emergency if you have abdominal pain, back pain, intense cramps, unusual vaginal discharge, or contractions or soreness in the uterus.

These symptoms can be a sign of a problem with the placenta or may even signal preterm labor. The health of the mother and the baby are at risk, so it’s important to seek care as soon as possible.

If you experience any bleeding during pregnancy, contact Capital Women’s Care for support and guidance. Bleeding can be the sign of a complication that, if left untreated, can be serious.

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