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Emi Hyder
23 Apr 2018 . 1 min read

How To Stop Bleeding During Pregnancy: Everything You Need To Know


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Pregnancy is an amazing and life-changing experience. The feeling of giving birth to a new soul is overwhelming and magnificent for every woman.

However, considering it a path only full of roses and everything nice can be quite misleading.

Being pregnant is definitely a beautiful experience, but it can also be full of complications and hardships.

One of these complications that some women experience during their pregnancy is vaginal bleeding.

It can be quite scary for expecting mothers to notice the sudden flow of blood while they are pregnant.

It makes them unsure and scared enough to ask questions like -

Is It Normal?  Is it something to be seriously alarmed about? How do I stop it ?

Fear and uncertainty takes over the thoughts of expecting mothers who experience bleeding during this crucial time of their life.

So to understand the situation better and manage the associated risks, here is what you need to know -

How Much Bleeding During Pregnancy is Normal?

Studies indicate that about 20- 30% of women experience some degree of bleeding during their pregnancy.

However, bleeding during pregnancy may or may not be a cause of concern depending upon when, why and how much of it is happening.

If the bleeding is very light in the early days of pregnancy, it's most likely harmless. However, if the bleeding gets heavier and painful in the first trimester, then it can be a cause of concern.

Heavy or light bleeding in the second and third trimester is considered dangerous. Bleeding in the second half or last trimesters of the pregnancy indicate that the mother and baby are under some serious threat.

Heavy bleeding , light bleeding or painful bleeding, irrespective of when and how frequently they occur should never be taken lightly.

Inform your doctor and seek proper medical care and attention immediately if you notice bleeding during pregnancy.

Am I Having Heavy bleeding during pregnancy?

In light bleeding, the flow of blood will be slow, almost drop like and in heavy bleeding the flow of blood will be more.

To know whether bleeding is heavy or light -

  • Notice the blood flow.
  • Wear a pad rather than a tampon.
  • Take note of the frequency with which you are changing the pads.
  • Notice to which extent the pad is stained.
  • Take note of how many hours or days you experienced the bleeding.

Do not wait for the light bleeding to stop or for the heavy bleeding to get lighter. As soon as you notice blood, inform your doctor so that proper medical help can be provided to you.

How do I stop the bleeding?

There is nothing you can do to immediately stop the bleeding. The bleeding might stop naturally on its own in few hours or it may get heavier with time depending upon what is causing it.

So In order to stop the bleeding and avoid the complications, you will have to inform your doctor.

Dealing with bleeding during pregnancy alone and on your own is not a very safe thing to do. Seek proper medical attention always.

Other things that can minimize the risks of bleeding during pregnancy are -

  • A healthy lifestyle.
  • Eating a fresh and organic diet.
  • Drinking adequate amount of water.
  • Taking sensible precautions to prevent injuries.
  • Avoiding smoking, drinking and substance abuse.
  • Avoiding stress.
  • Getting an adequate amount of sleep.

Make sure that you are receiving prenatal care during pregnancy. Take the maternal supplements prescribed by your doctor.

Keep your doctor updated about any concerning signs and symptoms which you are experiencing during your pregnancy.

Ensure that you are not missing routine checkups. Receive good postnatal care after your pregnancy to have healthy pregnancies ahead.

What Causes Bleeding During Pregnancy?

Bleeding in the First Trimester

Vaginal bleeding can occur anytime from the time of conception to the end of pregnancy. Vaginal bleeding in the first trimester is very common and frequently seen.

Causes of bleeding in the First trimester can be -

  • Implantation bleeding
  • Cervical polyps
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Molar pregnancy
  • Miscarriage
  • Infection

#1. Implantation bleeding 

When the fertilized egg implants itself in the lining of the uterus, a light bleeding or spotting is experienced.

Difference between implantation bleeding and period?

This should not be confused with light menstrual bleeding because the blood flow in implantation bleeding is very less and lighter in colour as compared to normal menstrual bleeding. Blood flow in implantation bleeding lasts only for few hours to 1 or 2 days.

#2. Cervical polyp

A cervical polyp is a harmless growth on the cervix. Due to increased blood supply around the cervix and high levels of estrogen during pregnancy, a cervical polyp can bleed upon contact during a pap smear or sexual intercourse. This type of bleeding isn't a cause for concern.

#3. Ectopic pregnancy

Implantation of the embryo occurs outside of the uterus in ectopic pregnancy. Usually, the embryo implants itself in the fallopian tube. As the embryo grows and increases in size, it causes the fallopian tube to rupture causing bleeding.

This is potentially dangerous for the mother.

Signs of ectopic pregnancy are -

  • Sharp pain in lower abdomen
  • Cramps
  • Vaginal bleeding.
  • A decline in the level of hCG

Ectopic pregnancies occur less frequently than miscarriages.

A woman is at the risk of having an ectopic pregnancy if there is -

  • History of ectopic pregnancy.
  • History of pelvic surgery.
  • Infection in fallopian tubes.

#4. Molar pregnancy / GTP

Gestational trophoblastic disease

In GTP, instead of an embryo, there is abnormal growth of tissue inside the uterus. This can be fatal to the mother as it may progress to a cancerous growth and spread to surrounding tissue as well.

Sings of GTP include -

  • The absence of fetal heart sounds.
  • Grape-like clusters are seen in an ultrasound.
  • Vaginal bleeding.
  • High levels of hCG.
  • Rapid enlargement of the uterus.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

#5. Miscarriage

In case of miscarriage, the bleeding will be heavier as compared to implantation bleeding. Miscarriages are often spontaneous and cannot be prevented.

The loss of pregnancy occurs before the 20th week.

Causes that can lead to miscarriage are -

  • Abnormalities of the uterus.
  • Abnormalities of the cervix.
  • Infection.
  • Chromosomal anomalies.
  • Serious physical trauma.
  • Drug abuse.

Older women are more likely to miscarry than younger women and most of the times a specific cause of miscarriage cannot be identified.

Signs of miscarriage are -

  • Heavy bleeding.
  • Painful cramping.
  • Fluid and tissue passing through the vagina.

Miscarriage doesn't mean that you cannot have a healthy pregnancy in the future.

#6. Infection

Infections of the vagina and cervix can cause bleeding in the first trimester. Sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhoea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis and herpes can cause bleeding, inflammation and irritation. Yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis can also cause bleeding and other complications during the pregnancy.

How to deal with the first trimester bleeding?

Studies show that bleeding occurs in one out of every four women in early pregnancy. This bleeding can be light and it may stop either in a few hours or within a day or two. In such a case people go on to having a healthy pregnancy.

However, if the bleeding is heavy and there is a lot of pain you will need to see a doctor as it can be something as serious as a miscarriage.

A miscarriage cannot be prevented. However, your doctor can help you deal with the pain and heavy bleeding by offering a suitable treatment. Your doctor might advise you to take complete bed rest until the bleeding stops or if you have a high-risk pregnancy. If you have a history of previous miscarriage or bleeding avoid doing any heavy work or lifting.

Taking care of yourself

Don't feel guilty and don't blame yourself.

You might feel a lot of overwhelming emotions all at once.

It can be a hard thing to deal with but try to do these things which can help you -

  • Talk to your friends and family.
  • Get plenty of sleep and rest.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Drink water.
  • Use pads rather than tampons.
  • Avoid sex if you are bleeding.

Get help

If you are scared and unsure of what is happening, take professional medical help.

Visit or call your nearest physician or Gynaecologist immediately.

Inform your doctor regarding everything which you are experiencing in detail so that your healthcare provider can help you deal with the same.

Bleeding in the 2nd and 3rd Trimester

Bleeding in the second half of the pregnancy may or may not be dangerous.

However, most of the times it is likely an indication towards serious issues that can adversely affect the mother and the baby.

Light bleeding in the late trimesters can occur due to minor trauma on cervix or vagina. But heavy bleeding imparts a potential threat to both mother and the fetus due to many complicated issues.

These are -

  • Placenta previa
  • Placental abruption
  • Premature labour
  • Uterine rupture
  • Vasa Previa

#1. Placenta previa

It is a condition where the position of placenta lies low in the uterus. The placenta partly or completely covers the cervix/birth canal because of its low position.

Bleeding in placenta previa is bright red, heavy and painless but it requires immediate medical care and attention.

Women who are at risk of developing placenta previa are -

  • Aged 35 years or older.
  • Smoke cigarettes.
  • Use of cocaine.
  • Have undergone a C- section before.
  • Are pregnant with more than one baby.

#2. Placental abruption

Placenta detaches from the uterine wall and blood pools between the placenta and the uterus. This can happen both before and during the labour.

It is a life-threatening condition for both mother and the baby. Mother can lose too much blood and the baby can be born too early with a very low birth weight.

Placental abruption can be caused by -

  • High blood pressure.
  • Uterine fibroid.
  • Injury to the uterus.
  • Smoking.
  • Use of cocaine.

Symptoms of placental abruption -

  • Light to moderate bleeding.
  • Notice if your baby moves less than usual
  • Pain in the abdomen.
  • Sore uterus.
  • Back pain.
  • Contractions.

If you cannot breathe, feel light-headed, have pain in abdomen and notice bleeding, call your doctor right away.

#3. Premature labour

If you begin to experience labour pain and contractions 3 weeks prior to your due date then it means you're undergoing a premature or preterm labour.

Symptoms of premature labour are -

  • Increase in contractions (Repeating every 10 mins.)
  • Pain in the abdomen.
  • Increased pressure in the abdomen.
  • Fluid discharge from the vagina.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Increased mucus discharge.
  • Vaginal bleeding.

Risk Factors for having a preterm labour are -

  • Being overweight or underweight before pregnancy.
  • Drinking alcohol and smoking.
  • Using drugs.
  • Having Hypertension, diabetes or clotting disorders.
  • Getting pregnant too soon after having a baby.

What you can do -

If you think you might be experiencing a premature labour then -

  • Call your doctor immediately.
  • Inform your doctor about all that you are experiencing.
  • Check and note the timings of your contractions.
  • Take deep breaths and try to relax.

How to time contractions?

Contractions will feel like the softening and tightening of your uterus.

To time your contractions -

  • Place your fingertips on your abdomen.
  • Feel your uterus.
  • Try to feel the softening and tightening of your uterus.
  • Write down the time gap between the end of one contraction to the start of another.

Call your doctor if you are noticing and experiencing repeated contractions every 10 or less than 10 minutes.

Dealing with the bleeding

When you feel like or identify that something is not quite right -

Seek Help Immediately.

If you are experiencing light, heavy, painful or painless bleeding in the second and third trimester of your pregnancy call the doctor immediately so that you can get professional medical help.

Don’t Panic.

Try to relax and calm yourself down until help reaches you. Relaxing and breathing deeply will help you deal with the pain and it can even reduce the frequency contractions.

Coordinate with your Doctor.

Your doctor will examine you and ask questions regarding your pain and bleeding. Try to share as much information as possible with your doctor.

Your doctor will evaluate your heart rate, your baby’s heart rate and your contractions.

He/she will also help you during a preterm delivery ensuring that you and your baby is safe.

Other factors that can cause bleeding during pregnancy -

Other than the obstetric and gynaecological complications during pregnancy, reasons that can cause bleeding in pregnant women are -

  • Urinary tract infections.
  • Hormonal imbalance.
  • Kidney stones.
  • Haemorrhoids.
  • Cancer.

Informing your doctor is essential in order to determine why you are bleeding during your pregnancy.

If you notice blood, visit your doctor immediately so that an early diagnosis can be made and things can become safer and easier for you and your growing little one.

Conclusion

Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy is something that should not be left unnoticed or taken lightly.

A good prenatal and postnatal care should be provided to every pregnant woman in order to avoid any complications during and after the pregnancy. A good prenatal and postnatal care also ensures that the future pregnancies will be healthy.

In case of any vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, inform your doctor right away to avoid any further complications.


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Emi Hyder

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