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Published on January 25, 2022

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Is Bleeding Normal During Pregnancy?

When a woman gets pregnant, it isn’t uncommon to bleed during pregnancy. In fact, 20 to 40% of women have bleeding or spotting.

If you notice bleeding or spotting, call your doctor and report your symptoms — such as how much you are bleeding and any accompanying pain. If your symptoms become associated with dizziness or lightheadedness, go to the emergency room immediately, said Carilyn Van Kalsbeek, MD, an Avera Medical Group family practice physician who also offers obstetrics.

“Always seek medical help if you’re bleeding or spotting during pregnancy,” she said.

Causes of Bleeding During Early Pregnancy

When you arrive at the clinic or hospital, the health professionals will perform a vaginal exam and/or ultrasound to determine why you’re bleeding.

There are many reasons why you could be bleeding — some reasons are more serious than others:

  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Regular implantation of the fertilized egg into the uterus
  • Miscarriage (loss of pregnancy)
  • Tumor
  • Sexually transmitted infection
  • Cervical polyp
  • Fibroid in the lower cervix or uterus

Regular implantation of the fertilized egg can cause slight spotting. On the other hand, ectopic pregnancy — the implantation of the fertilized egg anywhere outside of the uterus — is potentially life threatening.

“Above all else, we need to know if you’re facing an ectopic pregnancy,” said Van Kalsbeek. Symptoms include vaginal bleeding, dizziness, and sharp pains around the abdomen and pelvis.

Treatment for Bleeding During Pregnancy

“It’s important to work with your physician to evaluate the cause of bleeding as that will help determine the course of treatment,” said Van Kalsbeek.

Most ectopic pregnancies are diagnosed between four to six weeks and can be treated with medicine called methotrexate, but some ectopic pregnancies could require surgery. Miscarriages can be treated in various ways depending on the circumstances; sometimes they’re treated expectantly, sometimes medically and sometimes surgically.

“Talk to your physician,” said Van Kalsbeek. “Every cause of bleeding is personal and different levels of evaluation need to be done.”

Preventing Pregnancy Bleeding

Can you prevent pregnancy bleeding? “Not really,” answered Van Kalsbeek.

However, it’s vital to cultivate the healthiest pregnancy possible with the help of your pregnancy provider — an OB/GYN, midwife or family practice provider. Based on your desires and health needs, they will make appropriate recommendations for you to control blood pressure, eat well and exercise, ease nausea, care for emotions, and much more.

If you have any questions about your pregnancy, call your primary care or pregnancy provider. You can also access pregnancy and family-planning resources through Avera’s Maybe a Baby virtual seminar.

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