Vaginal bleeding can occur at any stage of pregnancy and may stem from various causes. While minor bleeding often resolves independently without affecting you or your baby, it can sometimes signal serious risks for both the mother and the child. Consequently, it's crucial to consult a healthcare professional immediately for a thorough evaluation, regardless of bleeding severity or pregnancy stage.

Vaginal Bleeding in the Early Pregnancy

During the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, vaginal bleeding is a common experience for many women. It can arise from factors like sexual intercourse or a cervical infection. When experiencing early pregnancy bleeding, it's vital to seek medical advice promptly. Your doctor may perform an internal examination and inquire about the bleeding's extent and associated pain. Early bleeding could indicate future complications such as preterm labour, restricted foetal growth, or miscarriage.

Vaginal Bleeding in Late Pregnancy

Late pregnancy bleeding may stem from cervical inflammation or placental complications, including placental abruption (the placenta detaching from the uterus wall prematurely) or a low-lying placenta that attaches too low in the uterus or over the cervix. This can lead to premature labour and vaginal bleeding. Late pregnancy bleeding might necessitate hospitalisation or early delivery.

Low-Lying Placenta (Placenta Previa)

Placenta previa involves the placenta attaching lower than usual in the uterus, often near or covering the cervix, and can cause painless vaginal bleeding. This condition, occurring in about 1 in 200 pregnancies, is more common in women who have had previous children, have had caesarean sections, had uterine surgery, or are expecting multiples. Close monitoring and management by your healthcare provider are essential in such cases.

Labour and Birth Signs

As you approach the end of your pregnancy, vaginal bleeding may indicate the onset of labour. The mucus plug sealing the cervix is released, leading to a discharge of clear mucus with pink or red streaks. This symptom can begin up to three weeks before your due date. Early loss of the mucus plug (before 37 weeks) could signal preterm labour, necessitating immediate medical attention.

Other signs of preterm labour include:

  • Continuous or intermittent fluid leakage from the vagina.
  • Increased mucus or bloody vaginal discharge.
  • Lower abdominal cramping, sometimes with diarrhoea.
  • Pelvic or abdominal pressure.
  • Back pain.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Persistent uterine contractions unrelieved by hydration and rest.

Miscarriage: Understanding and Signs

A miscarriage signifies the end of a pregnancy before 28 weeks of gestation, most often occurring within the first 13 weeks. While the incidence of miscarriage is about 15 to 20% of pregnancies, it's important to recognize its signs:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain or cramping, typically more severe than menstrual discomfort
  • Expulsion of tissue from the vagina

Bleeding may or may not accompany abdominal cramps or pressure. Though it can cease naturally with the pregnancy continuing, escalating bleeding coupled with increasing pain often indicates a miscarriage. In such cases, it's advised to preserve any expelled tissue for laboratory analysis. If tissue remains in the uterus, bleeding may persist. Medical guidance can vary from observational waiting, medication to induce contractions, or surgical intervention to remove uterine contents, sometimes using a combination of these methods.

Notably, most miscarriages are unpreventable, occurring due to natural processes in pregnancies that are not progressing as expected. Experiencing a miscarriage doesn't imply future reproductive issues or underlying health concerns. However, after recurrent miscarriages, further medical evaluation may be suggested.

Immediate Actions for Vaginal Bleeding During Pregnancy

If you encounter vaginal bleeding while pregnant or suspect pregnancy, seek medical attention without delay. Hospitalisation might be necessary to stabilise your condition. Being vigilant about sudden bodily changes during pregnancy and seeking timely medical intervention are paramount for safeguarding both your and your baby's health.

Vaginal bleeding in pregnancy has various causes, with some being more serious than others. Regardless of the bleeding's amount or timing, an immediate medical assessment is essential for ensuring the safety of both mother and child.