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Bleeding in Early Pregnancy

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bleeding in early pregnancy and what it means Hemera/Thinkstock

Vaginal bleeding in the first trimester of pregnancy is very common and occurs in 1 in 10 pregnancies. In the very early stage of pregnancy, you may get bleeding at around the time you would have had your period.

This has led some women to think they are having their period and not realize they are pregnant until later on. The bleeding, however, is usually lighter than a period, known as "spotting".

It is caused by the newly fertilized embryo implanting into the wall of the uterus. Implantation bleeding is normal and usually harmless.

However, any bleeding in pregnancy should be investigated as it could be a sign that something is wrong.

Causes of Bleeding in Pregnancy

Other causes of bleeding in pregnancy include:

• Breakthrough bleeding
During pregnancy this happens when not enough pregnancy hormones are produced to prevent the womb lining being lost. In effect, the woman has mini-periods, usually once or twice at the beginning of pregnancy.

Sometimes it occurs throughout pregnancy, although the area around the placenta is not affected so the baby is often okay. Continuing with monthly bleeding throughout pregnancy is rare.

• Cervical bleeding
This can occur due to changes in the cervix resulting from pregnancy, but it is more common in advanced stages of gestation.

• Health problems with the uterus, such as polyps or tumors.

• Placenta Praevia
The placenta is positioned too low down in the uterus. This can cause bleeding. As the pregnancy progresses, the placenta often moves up, solving the problem.

But if it remains low-lying, you may have to have extra monitoring during labor in case of excessive bleeding or in case the cord comes down first, before the baby (known as cord prolapse). If the placenta is so low it covers the cervix, you will have to have a caesarean as it is blocking your baby’s exit from your body.

• Threatened Miscarriage
This is bleeding and/or abdominal cramping that occurs anytime in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. However, actual miscarriage does not occur. Babies survive in about 50 percent of cases of bleeding and pain like this.

• Miscarriage

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.