What to Do if You Experience Bleeding During Pregnancy

Bleeding during pregnancy can be scary and it’s important to be educated about what might be happening. This post provides some great, must-know tips about how to handle bleeding during pregnancy.

a pregnant woman holds her belly; text above reads "what to do if experience bleeding during pregnancy"

Today I am going to talk about what to do if you are experiencing bleeding during pregnancy. Bleeding when you are pregnant is actually way more common than you might think. And it can happen in any trimester.

But it can be super scary.

Especially if you have experienced pregnancy loss. Even if you haven’t, bleeding can scare you and make you think of the worst case scenario.

**Please keep in mind I am not a doctor or medical professional, I am a woman who has been through three pregnancies (plus two miscarriages) and has experienced bleeding for a variety of reasons. This advice is anecdotal based on my experiences and is not meant to replace the advice of your primary caregiver or physician. If you are experiencing any amount of bleeding during pregnancy please contact a medical professional immediately.**

A Little Background…

With my first pregnancy I had one incidence of bleeding. I was about 35 weeks and it was after sex. Still, we were worried so we went to the labor and delivery department at the hospital. After being monitored for a couple of hours we were told baby was great and I was sent home.

Everything after that was fine, I went into labor about 3 weeks later (which had nothing to do with the bleeding) and baby was born via an emergency c-section.

Between my first and second babies I had two pregnancies, both ended in a very early miscarriage. With both I experienced bleeding almost immediately after taking a pregnancy test (within a day or two).

During my second pregnancy I experienced bleeding early on in the first trimester. Given the fact that before this I had two pregnancies end in miscarriage, I’m sure you can imagine I was incredibly nervous.

And just like you are probably doing right now, I started doing frantic internet research.

Because I was looking for anything that gave me a reason to believe I might not be experiencing a third miscarriage.

And guess what?

I had a hard time finding articles that were written by women who had been there done that. Most articles were from medical journals/websites. But I wanted to read a story from a mom who had experienced what I was experiencing, the bleeding, the panic, the anxiety…..

And that’s exactly why I wanted to write this article. Because sometimes you need to hear it from a woman who has been there!

Later in my second pregnancy I was diagnosed with something called placenta previa. Placenta previa is a condition where the placenta is blocking the cervix. In other words, it’s blocking the baby’s exit strategy!

Which is why I ended up having a second c-section. It’s also why I had two pretty serious bleeding episodes during my second trimester.

When I say serious I don’t mean life-threatening, but I do mean more than a few spots. I was hospitalized on both accounts (once for almost 3 days) and I was told if it happened again I would be hospitalized for the remainder of my pregnancy (almost 8 weeks at that point).

That was scary, and I was so nervous the whole time. And the thing about a placenta previa is there is nothing you can do to prevent the bleeding, except hope you don’t bleed.

Luckily I didn’t bleed anymore and I delivered (via scheduled c-section) a healthy baby boy at 37 weeks.

I am now in my third pregnancy (I’m 7 months along) and I experienced early spotting with this baby as well. It happened a couple of different times during the first 8-10 weeks and of course each time I was incredibly concerned. But it all turned out to be nothing and we are expecting our healthy baby in April 2018!! (update: baby was born in early April 2018 via natural VBAC!!)

Why do I tell you this? Because I’ve been there. If you are reading this right now there is a good chance that you are experiencing bleeding during pregnancy.

And I want you to know there is someone else out there who has experienced this.

And as someone who has been there a couple of times, here is my best advice:

Do Not Panic

I repeat, do NOT panic. It is easy to expect the worst. And it doesn’t take long for your mind to start wandering and then playing the “what if” game.

What if…..

…..the worst is happening?

…..I’m having a miscarriage?

…..I did something to hurt the baby?

The list could go on and on.But it’s important that you try to stay calm.

Bleeding during pregnancy does not always equal a miscarriage.

Yes, it can often be the first sign of miscarriage, but you could also be bleeding for a multitude of other reasons. I just shared with you three different stories during three different pregnancies in which I experienced bleeding during pregnancy.

And guess what?

It was all for different reasons, and all of those pregnancies went on to be healthy and I delivered three beautiful baby boys!!

Stress is not going to help you or the baby. So take a few deep breaths and sit down. There is nothing — I repeat nothing— that worrying will do for you. It will only make the situation worse. Instead, I suggest finding a relaxing activity to take your mind off of the bleeding until you can speak with (or be seen by) your doctor.

Call Your Doctor

If you don’t have one yet, now is a great time to get one!

Your doctor may or may not want to see you, but it’s important that you call. Even if the bleeding turns out to be nothing it’s important that your provider is aware of it.

Do not wait on this, do not wait to see if you stop in an hour or call your mom and 2 dozen friends first.

Call the doctor immediately!

Be Ready to Answer Questions

Because I’ve been through this before I can tell you the doctor (or nurse) is going to ask you certain questions on the phone. Or at least that’s been my experience.

And you need to be prepared to answer them. This can be difficult because let’s be honest, even though I told you not to, you’re probably panicking just a tad. So here’s some examples of what they might want to know:

Your last menstrual period or your due date: Assuming your bleeding pretty early on you may not have seen a doc yet, so they’ll ask you for the start date of your last menstrual cycle.

If you are further along (or you already have a due date) they will want to know that.

The last time you had sex: Yup, they’re going to get up close and personal with you. The reason they will ask this is because sex could be the cause of the bleeding (not that you should be avoiding it, unless the doctor tells you to).

Sex during pregnancy is perfectly safe, but your cervix is more sensitive and can bleed a little after sex. So think hard and be ready to answer this one.

How much you’re bleeding: ¬† This will help them determine how serious the situation is. My suggestion is to put on a maxi-pad as soon as you find the bleeding. And if you don’t have one just use a folded up tissue or toilet paper.

Do NOT put in a tampon or menstrual cup!!

Wearing a pad will make it easier for you to measure how much you are bleeding. Is it a couple of drops over the course of the morning or did you fill a pad in an hour? Make sure you’re watching the time as well.

Also, putting on a pad will give you peace of mind. When blood hits the toilet and spreads it can seem like A LOT! Then you put on a pad and it turns out it’s just a couple of drops an hour.

The color of the blood: Ok, yes I know, this is gross. But they will ask you the color because they want to know if it’s fresh blood.

If your blood looks dark red or more rust-colored it’s most likely old and not as concerning (although you should still call the doctor).

If it’s bright red that could mean it’s newer blood, which is more concerning. It’s still not 100% a sign of a miscarriage, but your doctor will want to know the color.

For example, with my second son I had bleeding with bright red, fresh blood. That wasn’t a great sign, and an indicator of my placenta previa, but the baby was fine! Yes, fresh blood can be concerning, but just like with any bleeding it’s not always the worst case scenario.

Call Your Spouse

Or call whoever is going to be your parenting partner during this pregnancy. It’s important to keep them in the loop because bleeding during pregnancy is scary and you will need the support.

Also, you never know what could happen from there. During my second pregnancy when I experienced bleeding in the second trimester I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.

But I ended up being admitted to the hospital for the night. And the docs came in to discuss what would happen if I needed an emergency c-section in the middle of the night! Ummmm, that was kind of a big deal.

Had I not called my husband initially he probably would have been shocked to hear I was in the hospital (he was at work). Also, it’s good to have people around you who will stay calm and encourage you.

Yes, bleeding during pregnancy is scary. But it’s not always a sign of the worst case scenario. There are so many random, and sometimes unknowable, reasons for a woman to experience bleeding during pregnancy. Do NOT panic! Call your doctor and let them guide you through this.

Have you ever experienced bleeding in pregnancy? Tell me your story in the comments below!

a pregnant woman holds her belly; text above reads "what to do if experience bleeding during pregnancy"