Pregnancy: Bleeding During the First Trimester
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Bleeding during the first trimester overview
If you have vaginal bleeding during the first three months of pregnancy, alarm bells may go off in your head. You may be worried that something bad is happening to your baby. While bleeding can be a sign of a serious problem, it isn't always. In fact, about 20% of women experience light bleeding or spotting in the first trimester of pregnancy. Rest assured -- most of them go on to have uncomplicated pregnancies and healthy babies.
When should you call your doctor about bleeding during the first trimester?
"If it's very light and not accompanied by pain, those are more reassuring signs," says R. Todd Ivey, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Texas Children's Pavilion for Women in Houston. But he tells his patients to pick up the phone "if [bleeding] becomes heavy like a menstrual cycle, if it's particularly bright red, or if it's accompanied by cramping or pain." Of course, any time you are concerned about bleeding, it is appropriate to check in with your physician.
What is implantation bleeding during the first trimester?
A common and normal cause of bleeding may occur before you even know you're pregnant. Many women bleed when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus. This is called implantation bleeding. It happens around the time you expect your period.
Women often describe implantation bleeding as light bleeding, spotting, or even red discharge, says Dr. Ivey. The bleeding or spotting may last for hours or even days. But implantation bleeding is much lighter than a normal period, so most women know it's not their period, he adds. Some women report slight cramping.
If you're bleeding during the first trimester, wear a panty liner or pad so you can monitor how much you are bleeding.
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