Periods are our sure sign. Having regular periods is a good indicator of fertility. Missing a period means you are pregnant. Having periods means you are not expecting a baby. Simple. Right? Well, just like so many other things regarding female biology, so much is individual.
True, in most cases periods cease once you become pregnant, with a few exceptions.
Causes of First Trimester Bleeding
- Some women spot around the time they would have menstruated, for a month or two. However, there are some women who report having periods throughout their pregnancy.
- Implantation bleeding occurs 10 to 14 days after fertilization usually but may show up as soon as six days after conception. This bleeding happens when the embryo attaches to the uterine wall. It’s usually light pink and may be hardly noticeable.
- Threatened miscarriage. Not all bleeding means you are about to lose the pregnancy. Many women bleed or spot lightly off and on throughout this time. If the bleeding is bright red, heavy and accompanied by back pain or abdominal cramps, you should see your doctor immediately to rule out any serious problems with the pregnancy.
- Molar pregnancy is another cause of bleeding in the early weeks, although rare. This condition is when tissue grows in the uterus but no embryo. Molar pregnancies cause dark brownish bleeding, nausea and cramping. If you have these symptoms seek medical attention.
- Sensitive cervix. Pregnancy brings many changes and sometimes the cervix can be a bit more sensitive, and bleeding may occur after a pelvic exam or sexual intercourse.
- Just because, bleeding. Some first trimester bleeding isn’t directly attributed to any known cause. Up to 30 percent of pregnant women experience light bleeding in the first few months. Half of those are due to miscarriage, while the other half can be due to the listed factors or something unknown.
Bleeding Later in Pregnancy
Later in pregnancy, bleeding can result from problems with the cervix. These may include an infection or some inflammation in the area or a growth on the cervix. If you are seeing your doctor regularly and report the bleeding, any cervical problems can usually be treated if required without much problem. Some growths are considered benign and therefore are simply watched to make sure they don’t impede the growth of the baby or labour itself later.
Placental problems can also lead to bleeding in later months of the pregnancy. Placenta praevia is when the placenta is low in the uterus and may cover the cervix partially or even completely. Painless bleeding accompanies the condition. Placental abruption is quite serious and rare, affecting only about 1 percent of pregnancies. It is when the placenta detaches from the uterine wall and heavy bleeding and abdominal pain result.
Preterm labour can be the cause of later pregnancy bleeding. Warning signs include cramping, dull backache, diarrhoea, vaginal discharge, and contractions.
If you talk to enough people, you will hear about people who experienced some bleeding, and even though they had regular periods during their pregnancy. One mother reported to having some bleeding that was considered normal and another even had bleeding each and every month of her pregnancy around the time her period was due. Her obstetrician told her everything was normal, and sometimes in a healthy pregnancy, there will be some bleeding.
If you see your doctor regularly for your prenatal appointments and report any physical symptoms such as bleeding or spotting and everything seems OK, then you should relax and just know you are probably one of those 15 percent who experiences bleeding during pregnancy. Focus on other aspects of your pregnancy, but report any new symptoms to your doctor.
Questions your Doctor may Pose to You
1. When did the bleeding begin?
2. How much blood has there been?
3. What colour is the blood? Are there clots?
4. Did any symptoms occur with the bleeding such as cramping?
5. Had you been under stress?
6. Did the bleeding occur after sexual intercourse?
7. Were you physically active prior to the onset of bleeding?
8. Does resting reduce the bleeding?
9. Have you had any other symptoms such as illness, fever, diarrhoea, or dizziness?
10. Has there been a change in bowel or urinary patterns?
11. What medications have you been taking?
12. Do you have a history of bleeding in previous pregnancies?