What could bleeding during early pregnancy signify? Is it normal to notice blood during the first trimester? When is the right time to consult the doctor, in case of spotting?

Spotting while pregnant is not considered harmful, but when the bleeding is heavy, this could be a sign of a complication with the pregnancy. Bleeding accompanied by period-like cramps could be a symptom of a miscarriage. If the bleeding is accompanied by sharp pains in the lower abdomen, this may be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. Let’s have a look at some of the different causes of bleeding during early pregnancy.

What is Bleeding or Spotting in Pregnancy?

Bleeding During Pregnancy

Bleeding During Pregnancy

Spotting is light vaginal bleeding and is brown or pink in colour, much like the bleeding seen at the beginning or end of your normal period. If the colour is bright red then you have bleeding. The amount of blood is also key; spotting will most likely be a few drops but bleeding will be much heavier, possibly soaking a sanitary towel or panty liner.

Reasons for Noticing First Trimester Bleeding


The hormones responsible for controlling the menstrual cycle are often the major cause of bleeding. These hormones could trigger what is referred to as breakthrough bleeding and you may experience this kind of bleeding a few times.


Infections in organs like the urinary tract and pelvic cavity could bring about vaginal bleeding.

Postcoital Bleeding

A little amount of bleeding after sexual intercourse is normal. It is not necessary for bleeding to occur; but even if it does occur, it is common and the pregnancy can be a normal one.

Molar Pregnancy

This is not actually a real pregnancy, but the growth of an abnormal tissue inside the uterus. This tumour type of a growth can be a result of some hormonal issues and may not be life threatening. In very rare cases, these tumours happen to be cancerous.

Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy is an abnormal pregnancy since the egg is implanted outside the uterus instead of inside it. In most ectopic pregnancies, implantation occurs within the fallopian tubes and this may cause the fallopian tube to rupture if the embryo begins to develop. Such pregnancies are dangerous but not common, as they form only 2% of all pregnancies.

Blighted Ovum

Also known as embryonic failure, wherein the embryo fails to develop in the proper location. This may be due to some abnormality in the embryo and has nothing to do with any of your actions.

Implantation Bleeding

Implantation bleeding occurs during the first 6-12 days after conceiving. This occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus and though the bleeding is often light, many women confuse implantation bleeding to normal periods.

Consult Your Doctor

Consult Your Doctor

Intrauterine Fetal Demise

An intrauterine fetal demise (IUFD), also referred to as a missed abortion or an embryonic demise, means you have a dead fetus in the uterus. This could occur due to the same reasons as a threatened miscarriage and during any stage of pregnancy.


This can be a serious issue. There could either be a threat of miscarriage or a complete miscarriage. If you experience cramps and pains along with bleeding, there could be a case of threatened miscarriage. The foetus may still be in the uterus, but the outcome of the pregnancy is in doubt.

However, if the pain and cramps lessen and an examination shows the uterus to be empty, it is a case of spontaneous abortion or a complete miscarriage. This could be due to various reasons, but one of the most common causes of first trimester bleeding happens to be this.

Treatment for Bleeding During Early Pregnancy

Heavy bleeding may require hospitalization or even surgical treatment. However, in most cases, bleeding is simply treated by rest. You may be advised to:

  • avoid sexual intercourse
  • take some time off from work
  • avoid douching during pregnancy (douching is also not advised when not pregnant)
  • avoid tampon
  • rest