Bleeding or spotting is quite common during pregnancy, occurring in 1 out of every 10 women during the first trimester . In most cases, it results from the normal body changes taking place in pregnancy. It is important to know the types and reasons of bleeding so you would know when to worry about it while carrying.
Although any bloody vaginal discharge in pregnancy is referred to as bleeding, vaginal bleeding and spotting have certain differences. Knowing the difference between the two is vital in order to understand the causes of the symptoms as well as to recognize any danger signs.
Spotting is when you occasionally notice just a little blood in your underwear. Counted among the harmless pregnancy signs, spotting is more common in the first trimester . Bleeding, on the other hand, is having a heavy, menstrual-like flow which requires the use of pads or liners. It is often associated with abnormal conditions and complications . It is advisable to contact your doctor if you experience any kind of bloody discharge , with or without pain and any other symptom as you cannot determine the causes and risks yourself.
Bleeding can result from a number of causes with some of them being harmless  while others might signify life threatening conditions, both for the mother and child .
Other causes may include uterine fibroids, endometritis and a low lying or bicornuate (heart-shaped) uterus. All these cases require proper medical attention to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. Taking anti-nausea medicines like Zofran is often associated with complications like bleeding and miscarriage.
Bleeding in the second and third trimesters is not as common as it is in early pregnancy. The symptom is often associated with some complication in these later stages. However, a pinkish light spotting with mucous-like discharge near full-term (37th week) can signify the starting of labor . Any pressure applied on the uterus or cervix during an internal medical exam can also lead to mild spotting . Other, more serious causes of heavy bleeding after the 15th week include:
Here are a few guidelines to reduce the risks of complications and help the assessment until your doctor can diagnose the responsible factors:
Your doctor will carry out a number of routine diagnostic tests to find out the possible factors responsible for the problem. A vaginal examination may be necessary to determine whether you have an infection, while an ultrasound scan can help to check for an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage . Routine blood and urine tests can determine your pregnancy hormone levels. Another blood test may be ordered to check the blood group and Rh status .
Women with high risk pregnancies might need special medication to ascertain healthy fetal growth while those with ectopic pregnancies require surgery . Rh-negative mothers might be given a shot of rhesus immune globulin to save the pregnancy until further testing .