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Bleeding or spotting from the vagina during pregnancy may or may not be something to worry about.
There are several possible causes - the majority of them aren't serious, but some of the reasons are. You should always consult your doctor or midwife as soon as possible if you notice any bleeding, so that in the event it is serious, you can get prompt treatment.
Bleeding in Early Pregnancy
Light BleedingSome women find that they get some slight bleeding or what is called 'spotting' in the first few weeks of pregnancy, often around the time they would normally have their period. This happens because the levels of pregnancy hormone aren't quite high enough to stop the bleeding, which comes from the lining of the womb. No treatment is required, but you may find that it helps to rest more, if you can.
Less commonly, but certainly worth a mention, bleeding in early pregnancy can be caused by a vaginal infection. Vaginal infections will need to be treated by your doctor. Bleeding in this early stage of pregnancy can also happen as a result of a change taking place in the cells of your cervix - this is known as cervical erosion. This kind of bleeding sometimes happens after you have sex. Again, your doctor will advise you whether you need any treatment. Another possible cause of bleeding is a polyp in your cervix. These don't usually need treatment.
Heavy BleedingIf you experience heavy bleeding in early pregnancy, you should always get medical advice immediately. It may be a sign of a miscarriage. Bleeding which is brown in colour, especially if accompanied by pain, may be a symptom of an ectopic pregnancy.
Bleeding in Later PregnancySlight bleeding in late pregnancy can sometimes be a sign that your labour is about to start, especially if you have a jelly-like discharge (called 'a show') at the same time. It shows that your cervix is starting to get ready for your baby to be born. If you're within three or four weeks of your due date, there's no real need to worry too much.
As in early pregnancy, however, bleeding may also be caused by a vaginal infection, by cervical erosion or by a polyp. Your doctor will advise you if you need any treatment.
Heavy Bleeding in Late PregnancyIf you have heavy, bright red bleeding, you should seek medical help immediately. This may be caused by a low-lying placenta, or by part of the placenta coming away from the lining of your womb. Both of these conditions are very serious and require immediate medical treatment.
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