By Fasugba Iyewumi Shulammite 


Bleeding during pregnancy can be due to various reasons and the causes depend on the gestational age.

Bleeding in pregnancy is in two ways;

  • Bleeding in early pregnancy 
  • Bleeding in late pregnancy 

What is Bleeding in Early pregnancy?

This refers to Bleeding before 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Causes include;

Implantation bleeding

In early pregnancy, you might experience harmless light bleeding, called “spotting”. This is due to the developing embryo trying to implant itself in the wall of the womb. 

This happens about 6 to 12 days after you’ve conceived. The fertilized egg swims into its new home(endometrium) and must attach itself to the uterine lining to get oxygen and nutrition.

This can cause light spotting or bleeding. Implantation bleeding usually happens just before you expect your period to begin. This kind of bleeding is often mistaken for a light period.

Cervical changes

Pregnancy can cause changes to the cervix, and this may sometimes cause bleeding – after sex, especially during the first trimester.

Molar pregnancy 

This can cause bleeding in your first trimester. This rare but serious complication happens in almost 1 in every 1,000 pregnancies.

Molar pregnancy or “mole” happens when the placental tissue grows abnormally due to a genetic error during fertilization. The fetus may not grow at all if it is a complete mole.

 A molar pregnancy can cause a miscarriage in the first trimester.

Bleeding in later pregnancy or antepartum hemorrhage

This is bleeding after the 28th week of gestation.

Causes of bleeding in later pregnancy

Placental abruption 

This is a serious condition in which the placenta starts to separate from the uterine (womb) wall. Placental abruption usually causes severe stomach pain, especially if the blood is concealed, it is a serious emergency. 

Low-lying placenta (placenta praevia)

This is when the placenta precedes the baby, that is the placenta is attached to the lower part of the womb, near to or covering the cervix. Bleeding from a low-lying placenta can be very heavy, and can put the mother and her baby at risk.

It is usually advised to go into the hospital for emergency treatment, and a cesarean section will usually be recommended.

Others include:

Ruptured vasa praevia

This is a rare condition where the baby’s blood vessels run through the membranes covering the cervix.

When your waters break, these vessels may be torn and cause vaginal bleeding. The baby can lose a life-threatening amount of blood.

Cervical changes

These can lead to bleeding, particularly after sex.

Vaginal infections

Bleeding in the first trimester may be due to infection and might have nothing to do with the pregnancy at all. An infection in the pelvic area or the bladder or urinary tract can cause bleeding. They may be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi.

A serious yeast infection or inflammation (vaginitis) can also cause bleeding. Infections typically cause spotting or light bleeding that is pink to red. 

Ectopic pregnancy

During the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, vaginal bleeding can be a sign of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

However, bleeding at this stage of pregnancy is usually not a cause for concern as it’s likely you will go on to have normal and successful pregnancies.

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Photo credit: Google


Bleeding in early pregnancy was obtained from retrieved on 31st January 2023.

Bleeding in late pregnancy was obtained from retrieved on 31st January 2023.

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