Vaginal Bleeding During Pregnancy: Here’s What You Should Know

It’s estimated that as many as 25% of women experience spotting during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Vaginal bleeding is a common concern. Though it can feel scary, it’s important not to panic. It should ease your worries to know that the majority of women who experience spotting during pregnancy go on to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Tell your doctor if you notice any vaginal bleeding during pregnancy. Your provider can rule out any serious issues. If you’ve experienced vaginal bleeding while pregnant, here’s what you should know.

Light spotting

Although spotting can happen any time during pregnancy, it commonly occurs during the first trimester. This may appear as a few drops of pink to brown discharge that is lighter than a menstrual period. You may notice a few drops on your underwear or find a little blood on tissue. For most women, light spotting is harmless and no cause for alarm.


Bleeding that resembles your menstrual period isn’t typical during pregnancy. To distinguish spotting from bleeding, assess whether you need a panty liner or pad. Filling up a panty liner or pad means that you are experiencing heavier bleeding, not spotting. Whether you are spotting or noticing heavier bleeding, it’s best to contact your obstetrician and describe your experience.

What causes bleeding during pregnancy?

Many factors can cause bleeding during pregnancy. The following are among the most common:


Harmless growths called polyps are a common cause of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy. As estrogen levels rise during pregnancy, women who have polyps can experience some spotting. Sometimes spotting serves as the earliest sign of pregnancy.

Implantation bleeding

When a fertilized 6-12 days-old fertilized egg attaches to the inner lining of your uterus, spotting can occur. This is known as implantation bleeding, and it usually doesn’t require medical attention. Vaginal bleeding can have a variety of causes. It’s best to have your provider evaluate you to ensure that you and your baby are healthy.

Ectopic pregnancy

In an ectopic pregnancy the embryo implants outside of the uterus. Bleeding is common in ectopic pregnancies. Most ectopic pregnancies implant in the Fallopian tubes. Women who have had a previous ectopic pregnancy are at a higher risk of having another. The bleeding that occurs in ectopic pregnancies is usually accompanied by symptoms including:


Bleeding other than spotting can be a sign of miscarriage. The majority of miscarriages occur within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. The bleeding that occurs in a miscarriage differs in that it is typically accompanied by symptoms such as:

Call your obstetrician if you notice heavy bleeding similar to your menstrual cycle.

Second and third trimester bleeding

Common conditions can cause bleeding during the second half of pregnancy. Conditions such as inflammation of the cervix can cause vaginal bleeding. Bleeding during the second half of pregnancy can pose a risk to your health and the health of the baby. It’s crucial to contact your provider if you experience late pregnancy bleeding.

Preterm labor

In some cases, bleeding can be a sign of preterm labor. If your mucus plug passes a few weeks before labor begins, you could be experiencing preterm labor. The mucus plug blocks the opening of the cervix to prevent bacteria from getting into the uterus. The plug is made up of mucus and a small amount of blood. If you lose your plug, it could mean that labor is imminent.

Our goal is to guide you through as healthy a pregnancy and delivery as possible. For the highest quality prenatal care, call our Burbank, California office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Bardowell, or book your appointment online at your convenience.

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