One the things most women will enjoy about being pregnant is not getting their periods for the nine-month gestation period. No tampon or pads to buy, no leaking to worry about on heavy days.
But wait, is that really true? It turns out that while you may not actually get a period while you’re expecting, a different kind of bleeding and spotting is both normal and surprisingly common.
Some 25 percent of the population experiences some level of bleeding during pregnancy, largely due to hormonal swings and imbalances. In your first trimester, it’s extremely common and should cause you no worry at all, as long as it’s light. Heavier bleeding should, of course, get you in touch with your ob-gyn immediately, just to be on the safe side.
There are a few reasons for this type of gestational bleeding. The first happens in the very incipient stages of pregnancy, often before a woman even realizes she’s expecting. The uterus experiences some irritation as the newly fertilized egg attaches to its walls, which causes some of the lining to shed in the form of bleeding. This will be short-lived, however, and seldom lasts more than a few days.
Some types of bleeding may need more medical attention, of course. These include when a cervical polyp has grown, or an infection has taken hold. It’s possible that your cervix has become inflamed, even after something as perfunctory as having sex or getting an annual pelvic exam.
Some medications may also cause bleeding to begin or worse, so it’s of paramount importance to keep your healthcare professional in the loop about anything, including homeopathic options, that you might be taking.
Now for the bad news, because it’s true that bleeding, while often nothing to worry about, can also be a sign that something has gone terribly awry. For example, a miscarriage, particularly in your first trimester, would typically result in some significant blood loss. It’s also possible that your baby has become lodged in your fallopian tubes, instead of your uterus, and this kind of ectopic pregnancy situation requires immediate medical care.
Should you be somewhat further along, bleeding or spotting can signal what is termed “placenta previa,” meaning the cervix had been blocked by the placenta getting into the uterus, making natural childbirth an impossibility. Another scenario would be that that the placenta and uterus have broken away from each other too soon, in what’s called “placenta abruption.” Both of the situations mean you should call your physician or 911 immediately.
Finally, end-stage bleeding could actually mean you are going into labor. When a mucus wall separates from your cervix, spotting (or more) can occur, so be sure to let a medical professional know if this happens.
Once you make it closer to your due date, bleeding generally is normal, and indicates that your cervix is readying for the baby to come out. But it’s always better to veer on the side of caution, so let your doctor know of any abnormalities so that you can determine a course of action together.
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