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Help! I’m bleeding during pregnancy. Is it dangerous?

Dear Darla,

I am four months pregnant with my first baby and today, I had a couple of spots of blood in my underwear. This is scaring me pretty bad. Am I miscarrying? Is bleeding during pregnancy bad?  Should I go to the doctor?

Isabella in Mariposa, CA

Dear Isabella

Many women experience bleeding during pregnancy, so you are not alone. Bleeding during pregnancy can be worrisome, but it is not always a sure indication that there is a problem. However, it is important to monitor yourself in case bleeding persists and becomes heavier. Bleeding can potentially be a sign of a serious issue, so make sure to always disclose any concerns with your health care provider to make sure you and your baby are doing well.

If you see any more bleeding like this, (often called “spotting”) go to your doctor. Spotting during pregnancy is normal as the cervix gets used to being pregnant.

It is important to note there is a difference between spotting and heavier bleeding. Spotting is when you have light bleeding that is typically pink, red, or dark brown. Bleeding is heavier than spotting. You can tell you are bleeding rather than spotting if you require a pad or a tampon to feel secure to go about your day. If you are spotting you may just need a pantyliner to accommodate the bleeding.

         Specifically bleeding in early pregnancy is common. Around 20% of women experience bleeding in the first trimester of pregnancy. Bleeding in later pregnancy is considered more serious. Many women experience bleeding in the first few days of becoming pregnant and this is called implantation bleeding. This type of bleeding happens when a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterine wall and can often be mistaken as a period if women are not aware they are pregnant. Bleeding in early pregnancy can also be a result of an early miscarriage which happen in about every 10 out of 100 pregnancies. Other than bleeding, cramping may also be a symptom of an early miscarriage.

         Bleeding in late pregnancy can be caused by Placenta Previa. Placenta Previa can occur when the uterus is covering the birth canal. If this is the case, it requires immediate medical attention, so call your doctor right away if experiencing bleeding in late pregnancy. Another reason for bleeding during late pregnancy can be because of a Uterine Rupture. You should be aware of a  uterine rupture if you have previously experienced a c-section. A uterine rupture occurs when a c-section scar reopens during pregnancy and requires emergency medical attention as well.

         There could be a multitude of reasons you are experiencing bleeding or spotting during pregnancy, so the smartest thing to do is call your doctor immediately.

I have listed further resources below for your convenience.  Take care Isabella, and I will keep my fingers crossed for you.