Bleeding during pregnancy can be frightening.
Your doctor may start throwing around terms like ‘threatened miscarriage’. So what does this mean exactly? Will your baby be ok?
What is a threatened miscarriage?
A threatened miscarriage basically means a possible miscarriage (loss of your baby before 24 weeks). Bleeding (apart from light spotting) during early pregnancy can be considered a threatened miscarriage.
Up to 20% of women experience bleeding in pregnancy before 20 weeks.
What can cause bleeding during pregnancy?
Sometimes doctors can determine a cause of bleeding during pregnancy, and sometimes they can’t.
Bleeding in pregnancy can be a symptom of something serious like a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. Sometimes a scan may show a small blood clot, ‘subchorionic haematoma’, around the pregnancy sac. A clot can continue to bleed intermittently during the first trimester and usually doesn’t cause a miscarriage. Clots like this often disappear by the second trimester.
There can also be other causes of bleeding that have nothing to do with pregnancy.
What’s it’s like bleeding during pregnancy?
The experience of bleeding during pregnancy can vary considerably.
At eight weeks pregnant, on a Tuesday night, I started bleeding. It got heavier and heavier, and I started cramping as well. My scan showed no heartbeat. It was devastating. I bled throughout my first trimester. Despite the bleeding, I went on to give birth to a beautiful baby girl. – Talia
I was at work one day when I had some light spotting. I would have been 6w 1d. I saw my OB, and they did a scan and said it was a threatened miscarriage. A week later it all went wrong. Spotting turned into bleeding which turned into cramping. Then I miscarried. I’m heartbroken. – Jaz
I bled on and off throughout my entire pregnancy, and it was terrifying. I thought I would lose my baby every single time it happened. The doctors told me I had a subchorionic hemorrhage and I also ended being diagnosed with placenta previa and other problems. My baby is now 18 months old and very happy and healthy. – Casey
I bled with mild cramps with my second and third pregnancy during my first trimester. Both classified as a threatened miscarriage. It’s a horrible term. My kids stuck it out, and both of them arrived full-term! So a very happy ending to my threatened miscarriage story. – Libby
When I was five weeks pregnant, I had a massive gush of blood with clots and everything. I went to the ED, they did a scan and blood test and said it was a threatened miscarriage. No cause found. Well, here I am feeding my baby while I write this. – Tracey
The common thread? It’s very concerning and stressful.
Will the bleeding hurt my baby?
Bleeding in early pregnancy that doesn’t lead to miscarriage won’t harm your baby.
Many women who experience bleeding during pregnancy go on to have a beautiful, healthy baby.
When I was about six weeks pregnant, I started to bleed heavily with huge clots. I panicked and went to the ER. The doctor said I have a threatened miscarriage, but that my cervix closed. Nothing showed up on the scan, and HCG blood test results were excellent. It was the scariest moment of my pregnancy. My son is now about to celebrate his first birthday! – Emma
Is experiencing a threatened miscarriage like having your period?
The amount of bleeding can vary. Some women experience spotting. Some women experience an actual gush that contains clots.
Sometimes there is also mild period type pain with the bleeding. Sometimes there’s no pain at all. Sometimes there may be intense cramping.
A few days before my 12-week scan I was lying in bed and felt dampness. I realised I had been bleeding and went to the loo where I had a bright red heavy gush with no clots. I had a little bit of cramping too. I went for a scan the next day, and the foetus was apparently happy and healthy. They found no explanation for the bleed. I went on to have a problem-free pregnancy and healthy baby. – Tania
What do I need to do if I start bleeding?
If you experience bleeding while you are pregnant, contact a health professional, so they can investigate and treat you if necessary/possible.
A lot of the time bleeding is not caused by something dangerous, but it’s essential to get medical advice and investigate the cause.
Doctors may give you a vaginal examination, an ultrasound or a blood test (or even all of these) to try and determine the cause of the bleeding.
According to the Royal Women’s Hospital in Victoria, you should go to your nearest Emergency Department if you experience:
- very heavy bleeding, for instance, soaking two pads per hour or passing golf ball sized clots
- severe abdominal pain or shoulder pain
- fever or chills
- dizziness or fainting
- unusual smelling vaginal discharge
How should I manage bleeding while I’m pregnant?
It’s important not to use tampons for bleeding during pregnancy. Tampons may increase the risk of infection so give them a miss.
Stick to pads only or period undies like Thinx.
So what does it all mean?
Bleeding during pregnancy is common, and in most cases, everything will be fine.
You still need to seek medical advice straight away if you do bleed.
Be prepared and take note of when bleeding requires emergency treatment so that you know when to act quickly. To prevent further complications, make sure you only use pads or period undies to manage pregnancy bleeding.
So take care of yourself, Mama! Stay calm but vigilant and don’t hesitate to seek medical advice.