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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Should I be worried about bleeding during pregnancy?

    I am currently pregnant and I have been getting some light bleeding, is this something that I should be concerned about? What should I do?
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  • Dr Robyn Lloyd

    Gynaecologist, Obstetrician

    Robyn completed her medical degree at the University of Sydney and was immediately drawn to the speciality of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. During her training Robyn … View Profile

    Bleeding occurs in approximately 20 - 40 % of pregnancies. Vaginal bleeding can range from light spotting to severe bleeding and passage of clots. It is important to understand the nature of bleeding and contact your doctor if you have any bleeding during your pregnancy.

    Light spotting at about 6 to 12 days after conception is normal. This occurs when the fertilised embryo implants into the wall of the uterus. Light spotting is common and most women continue to have a normal pregnancy. If the bleeding is severe like menstrual bleeding and associated with cramps it may be a sign of some serious underlying problem.

    Some of the causes of bleeding are:

    Infection: An infection in the vagina or cervix may cause bleeding.

    Miscarriage: bleeding could be a sign of miscarriage. In that case there may be other associated symptoms such as:
    - abdominal cramping or back pain - passage of tissue along with bleeding

    Molar Pregnancy: this is a disorder of fertilisation which causes growth of abnormal tissue in the uterus. It is associated with:
    - vaginal discharge of grape-like clusters - severe nausea and vomiting - no fetal movement or heart rate detected

    Ectopic pregnancy: this occurs because the fertilised ovum has implanted itself outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. This condition is potentially life-threatening for the mother and needs to be diagnosed and treated promptly.

    Sexual intercourse: Sometimes bleeding can occur after sexual intercourse as the cervix is vascular during pregnancy.

    Placenta praevia: bleeding can occur when the placenta has implanted low in the uterus.

    Placental Abruption: this is usually a problem that occurs in third trimester due to early separation of placenta from the uterine wall.

    What you should do if you have bleeding during pregnancy:

    - It is very important to call your doctor if you have bleeding during pregnancy.
    - Wear a pad to monitor the amount of bleeding
    - Do not use a tampon
    - Do not have sex while you have bleeding
    - Look for any tissue passed vaginally during bleeding
    - The above information does not take the place of a medical consultation and is intended for informational purposes only.

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