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Bleeding During Pregnancy

Bleeding During Pregnancy Overview

Because bleeding during all phases of pregnancy may be dangerous, a woman should call her health care professional if she has any signs of vaginal bleeding during her pregnancy.

Vaginal bleeding is any blood coming from the vagina (the canal leading from the uterus to the external genitals). This usually refers to abnormal bleeding not associated with a regular menstrual period.

  • First trimester bleeding is any vaginal bleeding during the first 3 months of pregnancy. Vaginal bleeding may vary from light spotting to heavy bleeding with clots. Vaginal bleeding is a common problem in early pregnancy, complicating 20% to 30% of all pregnancies.
  • Any vaginal bleeding during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy (the last 6 months of a 9-month pregnancy) involves concerns different from bleeding in the first 3 months of the pregnancy. Any bleeding during the second and third trimesters is abnormal.
  • Bleeding from the vagina after the 28th week of pregnancy is a true emergency. The bleeding can range from very mild to extremely brisk and may or may not be accompanied by abdominal pain. Hemorrhage (another word for bleeding) is the most common cause of death of the mother in the United States. It complicates about 4% of all pregnancies.
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