I’m worried about bleeding

Q I've noticed some spotting and blood - what should I do?

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In the early months…

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What you’ll notice:

Light reddish-brown spotting, in some cases after sex

What it could be:

Breakthrough bleeding: can happen when your period would be due. Implantation bleeding: when the egg attaches to the womb wall.
Cervical erosion: hormones can affect the cervix.

What to do:

Contact your midwife of GP. If the bleeding is light and you’re not inpain, it’s probably nothing to worry about.

What you’ll notice: 

Dark red or dark brown blood. There may also be abdominal pain, often just on one side 

What it could be:

Ectopic pregnancy: This is a rare but serious condition that happens when the fertilised egg implants itself outside the uterus, usually in one of the Fallopian tubes.

What to do:

Contact your GP immediately. The growing embryo will eventually rupture the Fallopian tube, which can be life-threatening to you. Surgery is needed to remove the embryo.

What you’ll notice:

Steady bleeding ranging from a light brown discharge to heavy red blood with clots and period-like pain.

What it could be:

Threatened miscarriage. In most cases the bleeding will stop and the pregnancy will continue as normal.

What to do:

Call your midwife or GP. You may be offered a scan to check things are OK. If you lose the baby, you may need surgery to clear your uterus, which is called dilation and curettage, or D&C.

In later months…

What you’ll notice:

Light red bleeding, usually between weeks 34 and 38.

What it could be:

Placenta praevia, also known as low-lying placenta – where the placenta implants low in the uterus, blocking, or partially blocking the cervix (the neck of the womb).

What to do:

Go to the maternity unit or hospital immediately. If the placenta is blocking the cervix, you will most likely need a Caesarean.

What you’ll notice:

Red bleeding which gradually decreases or possibly severe blood loss, usually after weeks 32 to 34.

What it could be:

Placental abruption, also known as placental separation, where part of the placenta separates from the wall of the womb.

What to do:

Go to the maternity unit or hospital. You may be advised to rest until it eases. Heavy blood loss may mean a Caesarean.

What you’ll notice:

Light bleeding or blood-stained mucus in the last weeks of pregnancy.

What it could be:

A ‘show’ – where the plug of mucus that seals the womb in pregnancy comes away.

What to do:

Contact your GP or midwife – labour could be about to start.

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IF YOU NEED HELP

  • Call Tommy’s Pregnancy Information Line on 0870 777 3060 if you have any worries
  • A miscarriage can be devastating so don’t be afraid to ask for support. To talk to someone or get details of support groups, call the Miscarriage Association helpline on 01924 200 799 or 0131 334 8883 in Scotland.
  • You can also visit miscarriageassociation.org.uk which has a variety of factsheets to download, including Men & Miscarriage and Talking to Children About Pregnancy Loss.

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