Understanding and Managing Bleeding in Early Pregnancy

Published: 18/12/2023

The journey of pregnancy is often filled with excitement, anticipation, and a myriad of emotions. However, when unexpected symptoms such as bleeding occur, it can be a cause for concern and anxiety. Bleeding in early pregnancy is not uncommon, and while it can be distressing, it's important for expectant mothers to be informed about the potential causes, risks, and steps to take when faced with this situation.

What does it mean? 

Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy has many causes. Some causes are more serious than others. Bleeding in early pregnancy is common and in many cases does not signal a major problem. 

Bleeding in the first trimester happens in about 15 to 25 pregnancies.  It is common for light bleeding or spotting to occur 1 to 2 weeks after an embryo implant into the womb. 

The cervix is more prone to bleeding during pregnancy because more blood vessels are developing in that area. It is therefore not uncommon to have spotting or light bleeding after sexual intercourse.

Things that could cause bleeding in early pregnancy are:

  • Infection 
  • Early pregnancy loss 
  • Ectopic pregnancy 

An early pregnancy loss is known as a miscarriage and happens in about 10 in 100 known pregnancies. A miscarriage can start with bleeding and cramping pains however half of women have no bleeding beforehand. 

How much bleeding is normal in early pregnancy? 

This is hard to say, as it can range from slight brown spotting to bright red bleeding which may last from a day to weeks and may be accompanied with cramping pains. 

What to do if you thought you were pregnant but find yourself bleeding? 

  • Take a breath and tell a loved one for support 
  • Put a pad or a pantyliner on 
  • Call 111 or your nearest early pregnancy unit 
  • If the bleeding is accompanied by excruciating pain call 999. 

Unfortunately, if you are bleeding in early pregnancy there is nothing anybody can do to stop the bleeding or try and save the pregnancy. But there is emotional support available and support for pain management until it becomes clear what exactly is happening. 

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