Causes of vaginal bleeding
What should I do?
Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy is always of concern. Once the woman's normal period is missed, she does not expect to experience bleeding again until after her baby is born. Yet bleeding during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy is fairly common, which may or may not indicate there is a problem.
Vaginal bleeding occurs in about 30% of all pregnancies. Of these 30% of pregnant women, about 50% will continue their pregnancy and have a healthy baby. However, the remaining 50% (or 15% of all pregnancies) will experience a miscarriage. When the pregnancy continues, sometimes a physical cause for the vaginal bleeding is found. However in most cases, the cause remains unknown.
Bleeding during early pregnancy can range from mild spotting on underwear, or perhaps a blood-stained discharge noticed on toilet paper after wiping. These tend to be of less concern. Bleeding as heavy as a normal period or more (enough to soak a sanitary pad), is more indicative of a possible miscarriage. The blood can be bright red (fresh), pink (very light) or brownish in colour (old blood from a few days previous), with the amount and frequency of bleeding varying from woman to woman. There may also be some mild cramping, or period-like pain and/or backache, more commonly associated with heavy bleeding.
NOTE: Any vaginal bleeding during pregnancy should be communicated to your caregiver. Also, be aware that many women experience very mild cramping or period-like pain, backache and sometimes unusual sensations in their lower abdomen during early pregnancy. Unless there is bleeding associated with these sensations or the pain becomes quite severe, it is usually related to the uterus growing and changing and generally nothing to be concerned about. You can read more in aches and pains.