I’ve seen many women walk into the ER with fears of miscarriage. They may be experiencing so light or heavy bleeding, cramping, or sever pain. Regardless of it’s severity it can be so scary.
I see you and I know your worries. I have sat with many of you alone in your ER room with a million fears rushing through your brain as you experience bleeding in early pregnancy. I have tried to ease your fears and tell you not to assume the worst until we know. In this article you will learn:
- Is it normal to have cramping or bleeding in early pregnancy?
- When should I be concerned?
- What could cause bleeding in early pregnancy?
Table of Contents
Is Cramping and Bleeding in Pregnancy Normal?
The answer is both yes and no. It can be totally normal or it could be a sign of something life threatening. “Bleeding in Early Pregnancy happens to 20-40% of women. Most of the time it is nothing to worry about” (Deidre Heber DO, OBGYN). Bleeding can also vary significantly during this time. You may have just some light spotting, period like bleeding, or heaving than normal period bleeding. It could be constant or come and go. You may pass clots or some tissue. You may also have pain or no pain at all. These things are good to take note of and be prepared to inform your doctor of the specifics of your situation.
How Normal Is Bleeding In Early Pregnancy?
It is typically pretty normal to see some light bleeding or spotting in early pregnancy. There can be several reasons that may cause this that are normal and will allow you to continue to have a healthy pregnancy. Some of those things may be implantation, hormone changes, cervical changes, sex, or vaginal exam.
When should I be concerned?
Any bleeding is something to take note of and make sure you inform your doctor. How urgent is the bleeding?
According to the Mayo Clinic call your doctor if:
- Tell your doctor at your next prenatal visit if you had light bleeding or spotting that goes away the next day.
- Call within 24 hours if you have had any amount of bleeding that last longer than a day.
- Call immediately if you have moderate to heavy bleeding, pass tissue, or any amount of vaginal bleeding with abdominal pain, cramping, fever (100.4), or chills.
- RH negative blood and you experience any amount of bleeding.
7 Reasons For Bleeding in Early Pregnancy
This is not an all inclusive list and is not medical advice. This is simply informational and should help guide you in your conversations with your doctor.
Implantation Bleeding usually occurs 11-14 days after ovulation. It is typically light bleeding or spotting that last a few hours to a few days. It is typically lighter than your typical menstrual period. This is when a fertilized egg (embryo) implants into the uterus. This typically breaks up some blood vessels in the uterine wall which causes the bleeding. It can sometimes be confused with your normal period because bleeding will occur around the time your next period should start. Implantation bleeding is normal and poses no risk to the developing fetus.
There are also many changes happening to your cervix at this time. There is increased blood flow and more blood vessels developing in this area. Due to this anything coming in contact with this area can cause bleeding. This may include sexual intercourse or physical exams.
Some women also have cervical polyps, which can easily become irritated during early pregnancy and cause some bleeding.
Your bleeding my have nothing to do with your pregnancy. You could have an infection in your pelvic area, bladder, or urinary tract that causing bleeding. This could be due to bacteria, virus, or fungus. This can be treated safely when working with your doctor.
Changes in Hormones
Bleeding could be caused by some major shifts in your hormone levels. The production of progesterone now shifts from production in the ovaries to the growing placenta. This typically caused a drop in progesterone levels and can cause some spotting or even heavy period like bleeding.
Up to 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Most miscarriages are not your fault and have nothing to do with something you have done. Most women after miscarriage will go on to have healthy pregnancies and children. Most miscarriages happen in the first trimester and will have some amount of bleeding and typically some abdominal pain. If you are seen and treated in a medical setting they will refer to this as a threatened abortion or spontaneous abortion. This is a medical term.
In medicine, an abortion is a loss of pregnancy due to the premature exit of the products of conception (the fetus, fetal membranes, and placenta) from the uterus due to any cause. An abortion may occur spontaneously (termed a miscarriage) or may be medically induced
This is when a fertilized egg develops outside of the uterus (typically in the fallopian tubes). This can be life threatening as the fetus is developing outside of the uterus. Ectopic pregnancies happen in 2.5% of all pregnancies.
This is a rare condition (1 in every 100,000 pregnancies) when a fertilized egg implants into the uterus but there is abnormal development of tissue related to genetic errors in fertilization that create a noncancerous tumor. The fetus will never develop and will often end in a miscarriage naturally.
Sub chorionic Hematoma
This is when there is bleeding from one of the membranes that surround the embryo inside your uterus. They typically resolve on their own but can be alarming. They can vary in size and therefore vary in they type of bleeding. A larger hematoma would typically result in heavier bleeding.
Bleeding in early pregnancy can mean many different things. It will not present the same for everyone. Alway involve your healthcare provider in making decisions about what to do when changes occur during pregnancy. Whatever you are facing you are not alone. Please reach out if you have any questions, concerns, or comments.
Jess is a registered nurse with over 6+ years of critical care experience for patients young and old and is the mother of two small children. After having her own children she felt inspired to provide mothers with real actionable guidance and education to make informed decisions throughout their pregnancy and postpartum experience.