Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy can be a common symptom, but could also be a sign of something serious depending on factors such as which trimester the vaginal bleeding occurred in, the quantity of blood loss, as well as the accompanying symptoms. These factors can speak volumes regarding the criticality of the bleeding, and hence, of the pregnancy.

First Trimester

Vaginal bleeding during the first trimester is not something that should make you too worried as it is a normal occurrence. Usually women mistake vaginal bleeding as a miscarriage or a light period, but this is not always the case. This kind of bleeding may last from a few hours to a few days. The reason behind a pregnant woman bleeding during her first trimester is implantation bleeding, which is caused when the fertilized egg has planted itself into the lining of the uterus. Implantation bleeding occurs in the first 6 to 12 days of conceiving. About 20% women experience vaginal bleeding in the first trimester, and a study shows that over 90% women who experience vaginal bleeding in the first trimester do not miscarry.

Second and Third Trimester

Vaginal bleeding in the second and third trimesters is a cause for concern, since by this time your body has been pregnant for several weeks and your fetus has developed quite a bit. In case you experience vaginal bleeding in the second and third trimesters, you must seek medical help immediately. Some of the conditions that may cause vaginal bleeding are:

  • Placenta Previa – This is a condition that occurs in one of every 200 pregnancies, wherein the placenta sits low on the uterus, thereby partially or completely covering the birth canal. This is dangerous as it is completely painless, and thus, in most cases it doesn’t get diagnosed in time. This condition requires immediate medical care.
  • Placental abruption – This is a condition where the placenta totally detaches itself from the wall of the uterus causing blood to collect between the placenta and the uterus. This is critically dangerous to not only the baby but also the mother. Medical care must be taken immediately. Symptoms of placental abruption are abnormal pain, especially back pain, a tender uterus and vaginal bleeding in the form of blood clots.
  • Uterine rupture – This condition only occurs in women that have been pregnant before and have delivered through C-section previously. When a scar from a previous C-section tears open causing bleeding, one must seek immediate help as it is critically dangerous to both the mother and the baby. Treatment for a uterine rupture involves immediate C-section. The signs of uterine rupture include tender abdomen and abdominal pain, especially in the area of the scar.
  • Vasa Previa – Vasa Previa is a fetal condition where the blood vessels of the fetus in the umbilical cord or placenta cross the birth canal causing the fetus to bleed as the blood vessels tear open. This is severely dangerous to the fetus as it affects its supply of oxygen.
  • Premature labor – This can be another reason for vaginal bleeding. You may have a pre-term delivery causing your mucus plug to break open. This mucus may have a few spots of blood in it, which may be perceived as vaginal ‘bleeding’. You should contact your doctor immediately as you may have to prepare yourself for a pre-term delivery.