First Trimester Bleeding

If you just found out you're pregnant, it can be worrisome to have bleeding. You may fear the worst, such as a miscarriage, but first trimester bleeding is actually fairly common and it doesn't always mean that something bad is happening to you or your baby.

First trimester bleeding is any bleeding that occurs during the first 3 months of your pregnancy. It's estimated that 20%-30% of women will experience some type of bleeding during their pregnancy. Bleeding during pregnancy can be harmless, but it could also indicate problems with the pregnancy. Though it's common, that doesn't make it any less scary. It can be nerve wracking to experience bleeding when you are just getting excited about the pregnancy.

The most common and least harmful reason for bleeding during the first trimester is when implantation occurs. Bleeding can sometimes occur when the fertilized embryo implants itself in the wall of the uterus. This is called implantation bleeding and is nothing to worry about.

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Light bleeding that is pink or light red in color is usually nothing serious, though it won't hurt to report it to your care provider. Any heavy or bright red bleeding, especially accompanied by cramping, should be reported to your care provider as soon as possible, as it could indicate a more serious issue.

When to Call Your Care Provider

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If you are experiencing severe cramping or bleeding, you are feeling faint or dizzy, or have a fever, call your care provider immediately, as these could be signs of a serious or life threatening condition.

In the worst case scenario, bleeding during the first trimester could indicate an infection, an ectopic pregnancy (when the embryo implants itself outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes), or the beginning of a miscarriage.

If you are experiencing more serious bleeding and cramping, your care provider will probably want you to have an ultrasound to check on the location of the baby and look for a heartbeat if you are far enough along.

If your provider thinks that you may be experiencing a miscarriage, the only way to know for sure is to wait and see. They may advise you to rest and try not to worry, but this is understandably hard to do. You should still try your best to take it easy and reduce stress and anxiety in your life. You may also be advised to abstain from being intimate with your partner until it is clear what is going to happen.

Vanessa Pruitt, PLMHP, MS

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