Bleeding in the first trimester of pregnancy is more common than many women are aware. Normally, 25 to 30 percent of all pregnant women will bleed in the first 12 weeks. Of those who bleed, only 15 percent actually lose the pregnancy, this means 65 percent stop bleeding and continue on with a normal pregnancy outcome.

Fetal demise or miscarriage occurs in 15 to 20 percent of all pregnancies usually within the first 12 weeks. The most common cause of fetal demise is an abnormally developing pregnancy due to chromosomal defects. The body recognizes the formation is incorrect and rejects the pregnancy. Other factors which increase your risk for fetal demise are:

  1. Chronic diseases such as Diabetes and Systemic Lupus
  2. Abnormally shaped uterus such as a fibroid uterus
  3. Smoking, alcohol, or drug abuse
  4. Previous history of miscarriage

If bleeding should occur, the following guidelines will help you determine how to manage the situation:

  1. If light spotting (brown to red color, lighter flow than a period) with or without cramping:
    • Reduce activity
    • No exercise, sex, or douching for 24 to 48 hours after spotting
    • Stay off work for 24 hours
  2. Red bleeding as heavy as a period with cramping and or pain:
    • Notify the doctor or go directly to Banner Desert Medical Center Emergency Department
    • If you pass anything that looks like tissue, save it in a container

If you have cramping without bleeding, it is not an indication you are threatening to miscarry. Cramping is common in the first trimester and can be caused by ligaments being stretched as the uterus enlarges. Other causes may be ovarian cystic pain, bladder pressure from the enlarging uterus, or bowel changes. The following suggestions may help reduce cramping:

  1. Apply a heating pad
  2. Reduce activity, exercise, lifting, and intercourse until the cramping subsides
  3. If there are urinary symptoms such as frequency, painful urination, or burning with urination, call the office

Remember, most bleeding episodes have NOT been caused by anything you have done. If you ever have questions regarding bleeding during pregnancy, please contact our office. We will assist you. We understand this can be very frightening and will do whatever we can to evaluate and reassure you about your situation.

Visit The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website for more information.