Complications of Pregnancy: What are the Risks of Vaginal Bleeding during Pregnancy

Complications of Pregnancy: What are the Risks of Vaginal Bleeding during Pregnancy
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Complications of Pregnancy

Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy is a common occurrence among pregnant women. Rarely, the bleeding is caused from an underlying complication but it can be a symptom of a serious condition. Bleeding through out different trimesters of the pregnancy can mean many possible complications of pregnancy. Bleeding during pregnancy should always be taken seriously because there’s always a chance of a severe complication.

Pregnancy Complications

First Trimester Complications

During the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, 20% of women experience bleeding. The most common cause of bleeding during the first trimester is from miscarriage. Half of women who experience bleeding during the first trimester are more likely to miscarry during the pregnancy. Miscarriage is the biggest concern for women who bleed during the first trimester.

Implantation bleeding is a common form of bleeding for women during the first trimester. This type of bleeding occurs when women are unaware they are pregnant and dismiss it as a regular period. Implantation bleeding occurs when a fertilized egg is implanted into the uterus after conception. This type of bleeding doesn’t cause any pregnancy complications and usually only last a few hours to a few days.

A serious complication of pregnancy for women in their first trimester is Ectopic pregnancy. Bleeding is the most common symptom of this condition. This condition occurs when the fertilized eggs does not correctly implant in the uterus, such as implanting in a fallopian tube. This condition can become life threatening if it’s not treated because the egg will continue to grow can eventually cause the fallopian tube to burst.

An extremely rare condition that has a symptom of bleeding during pregnancy is a Molar pregnancy. Molar pregnancies are caused from abnormal tissues growing in the uterus instead of a baby. The tissues are cancerous and if it’s not removed it can spread to other areas of the body.

Second and Third Trimester Complications

Bleeding that occurs in the second and third trimester of pregnancy usually means there are severe complications of pregnancy. One of the complications can be Placenta previa. This condition is caused when the placenta is low in the uterus and partially covering the opening of the birth canal. If this complication is the cause of the bleeding, immediate medical attention is needed.

A pregnancy complication that can be very dangerous to the mother and the unborn baby is Placental abruption. The placenta becomes detached from the uterus wall either before or during labor. Blood then begins to pool between the uterus and the placenta. Not only is there bleeding during the pregnancy, but abdominal and back pain.

Vaginal bleeding during a pregnancy isn’t always a symptom of a serious complication but it can be. It’s best to be seen by a doctor immediately if bleeding occurs to rule out any pregnancy complications. has a list of other symptoms that can be associated to pregnancy complications besides unusual bleeding.


“Bleeding During Pregnancy” Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on February 16, 2009

“Bleeding during pregnancy: Why it happens, what to do” By Mayo Clinic Staff

May 2, 2007

Photo: “Pregnancy” By Memoossa Stock.xchng