Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy can be scary. It’s common, however, and it isn’t always a sign of trouble. Most women who experience vaginal bleeding during pregnancy — particularly during the first trimester (weeks one through 12) — go on to deliver healthy babies.
Still, it’s important to take vaginal bleeding during pregnancy seriously. Sometimes vaginal bleeding during pregnancy indicates an impending miscarriage or a problem that needs prompt treatment. By understanding the most common causes of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, you’ll know what to look for — and when to contact your health care provider.
Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy has many causes. Some are serious, and some aren’t.
Possible causes of vaginal bleeding during the first trimester include:
– Cervical cancer
– Cervical changes, including more blood flow to the cervix and softening of the cervix, which may result in harmless vaginal bleeding after sex or a pelvic exam
– Ectopic pregnancy
– Implantation bleeding, which occurs about 10 to 14 days after fertilization when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus
– Some cervical infections
Second or third trimester
Possible causes of vaginal bleeding during the second or third trimester include:
- Placenta previa
- Placental abruption
- Premature opening of the cervix (cervical insufficiency), which can lead to preterm birth
- Problems with the cervix, such as a cervical infection, inflamed cervix or growths on the cervix
Normal vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
In addition to potentially worrisome causes of bleeding, some vaginal bleeding near the end of pregnancy is normal. As the cervix begins to thin out and relax in preparation for labor. . When this happens, you may notice a thick or stringy discharge that may be tinged with blood. This “bloody show” is a normal sign of impending labor that may occur up to a week or two before delivery.
Bleeding During Pregnancy Symptoms
It is helpful for your health care provider to know the amount and the quality of the bleeding that you have. Keep track of the number of pads used and passage of clots and tissue. If you pass a clump of tissue and are going to see your doctor, bring the tissue with you for examination.
.Other symptoms you may experience are increased fatigue, excessive thirst, dizziness, or fainting. Any of these may be signs of significant blood loss. You may notice a fast pulse rate that increases when you stand up from lying down or sitting. Dizziness may increase when you stand up as well.
Bleeding During Pregnancy Overview
Because bleeding during all phases of pregnancy may be dangerous, you should call your health care provider if you have any signs of vaginal bleeding during your pregnancy.
Vaginal bleeding is any blood coming from your vagina (the canal leading from the uterus to the external genitals). This usually refers to abnormal bleeding not associated with a regular menstrual period.
Bleeding from the vagina after the 28th week of pregnancy is a true emergency. The bleeding can range from very mild to extremely brisk and may or may not be accompanied by abdominal pain.
Bleeding in Early Pregnancy
Many women have vaginal spotting or bleeding in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Bleeding of the cervix may occur during sex. An infection of the cervix can also cause bleeding.
If you are bleeding in early pregnancy, your doctor may do a pelvic exam. You will be asked how much blood you have passed and how often bleeding has occurred. Your doctor also will ask whether you have had any pain, and if so, its location and severity.
A blood test may be done to measure human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This substance is made by your body during pregnancy. You may have more than one test because hCG levels increase throughout pregnancy. Your blood type also will be checked to see if you need treatment for Rh sensitization. Ultrasound may be used to find the cause of the bleeding. Sometimes the cause is not found.
If you have bleeding while you are pregnant, you may need special care. You have a higher chance of going into labor too early (preterm labor), having an infant who is born too small, or having a miscarriage.
Bleeding in Late Pregnancy
The causes of bleeding in the second half of pregnancy differ from those in the first half. Common problems that cause light bleeding include an inflamed cervix or growths on the cervix. These may be treated with medication.
Heavy bleeding usually involves a problem with the placenta. The two most common causes at this time are placental abruption and placenta previa. Preterm labor also can cause such bleeding.
Late bleeding may pose a threat to the health of the woman or the fetus. It may require treatment in a hospital or delivery.
The placenta is attached to the uterine wall. separation of the placenta from the inner wall of the uterus before the baby is delivered. It may detach from the wall before or during labor. This may cause vaginal bleeding. It often causes pain, even if bleeding is light or not seen.It may be classified as partial,complete,or marginal.
Types of placental abruption. (A) Revealed placental abruption, where blood tracks between the membranes, and escapes through the vagina and cervix. (B) Concealed placental abruption where blood collects behind the placenta, with no evidence of vaginal bleeding
When the placenta becomes detached, the fetus may get less oxygen and nutrients . This can pose a danger. The larger the area that detaches, the greater the amount of bleeding.
Placental abruption occurs about once in every 120 births. It is also called abruptio placenta.
Causes placental abruption?
Other than direct trauma to the uterus such as in a motor vehicle accident, the cause of placental abruption is unknown. It is, however, associated with certain conditions, including the following:
- · previous pregnancy with placental abruption
- · hypertension (high blood pressure)
- · cigarette smoking
- · multiple pregnancy
Why is placental abruption a concern?(complication)
Placental abruption is dangerous because of the risk of uncontrolled bleeding (hemorrhage). Although severe placental abruption is rare, other complications may include the following:
- · hemorrhage and shock
- · disseminated vascular coagulation (DIC) – a serious blood clotting complication.
- · poor blood flow and damage to kidneys or brain
- · stillbirth
- · postpartum (after delivery) hemorrhage
- · Fetal death.
- · Maternal death.
- · Prematurity.
symptoms of placental abruption?(clinical manifestations)
The most common symptom of placental abruption is dark red vaginal bleeding with pain during the third trimester of pregnancy. It also can occur during labor. However, each woman may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
· vaginal bleeding
· abdominal pain
· uterine contractions that do not relax
· blood in amniotic fluid
· faint feeling
· decreased fetal movements
1. Determine the amount and type of bleeding and the presence or absence of pain.
2. Monitor maternal and fetal vital signs ,especially maternal Bp ,pulse ,fetal heart rate.
3. Palpate the abdomen .
4. Measure and record fundal height to evaluate the presence of concealed bleeding.
5. Prepare for possible delivery.
– Ineffective tissue perfusion:placental related to excessive bleeding,hypotention,and decreased cardiac output,causing fetal compromise.
– Deficient fluid volume related to excessive bleeding.
– Fear related to excessive bleeding,procedures,and unknown outcome.
1. Maintaining tissue perfusion by: Evaluate amount of bleeding by weighing all pads,monitor CBC and v/s.
- Position in left lateral position,with the head elevated to enhance placenta perfusion.
- Maintain oxygen saturation level above 90% by using pulse oximetry monitoring.
- Evaluate fetal status with continuous external fetal monitoring.
- Encourage relaxation techniques.
- Prepare for possible cesarean delivery if maternal or compromise is evident.
2. Maintaining fluid volume by :Maintain large –bore I.V line for fluids and blood products,Evaluate coagulation studies,Monitor maternal v/s and contractions,Monitor vaginal bleeding .
3. Decreasing fear by :Inform the women and her family about the status of her-self and the fetus,Explain all procedures in advance when possible,Answer questions in a calm manner using simple terms,Encourage the presence of asupport person.
When the placenta lies low in the uterus, it may cover the cervix, condition in which the placenta attaches to the uterine wall in the lower portion of the uterus and covers all or part of the cervix. That means it partly or completely blocks the opening. This is called placenta previa. It may cause vaginal bleeding. This type of bleeding often occurs without pain.
Placenta previa is classified as:
– Marginal placenta previa: Placenta extends to the margin of the internal cervical os
– Partial placenta previa: Placenta partially covers internal cervical os
– Complete placenta previa: Placenta completely covers internal cervical os
– A low-lying placenta is near the cervical opening but not covering it. It will often move upward as your due date approaches.
Placenta previa occurs in 1 in 200 women. It is more common in those who Causes placenta previa:
The cause of placenta previa is unknown, but it is associated with certain conditions including the following
- · women who have scarring of the uterine wall from previous pregnancies
- · women who have fibroids or other abnormalities of the uterus
- · women who have had previous uterine surgeries or cesarean deliveries
- · older mothers (over age 35)
- · African-American or other minority race mothers
- · cigarette smoking
- · placenta previa in a previous pregnancy
- · Previous abortion
- · Multiple births
Symptoms of placenta previa:
The most common symptom of placenta previa is vaginal bleeding that is bright red and not associated with abdominal tenderness or pain, especially in the third trimester of pregnancy. However, each woman may exhibit different symptoms of the condition or symptoms may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis
Complications of placenta previa
· Placenta accrete(abnormally adherent to uterine wall)
· Immediate hemorrhage,with possible shock and maternal death
· Postpartum hemorrhage resulting from decreased contractility of uterine muscle.
· Increase risk for anemia (blood loss)
· Fetal mortality resulting from hypoxia in utero and prematurity.
Nursing assessment of placenta previa
1. Determine the amount and type of bleeding and any history of bleeding throughout any pregnancy.
2. Record maternal and fetal vital signs .
3. Palpate for the presence of uterine contractions.
4. Evaluate laboratory data on hemoglobin and hematocrit status.
5. Assess fetal status with continuous fetal monitoring.
Nursing Daignosis of placenta previa
– Ineffective tissue prefusion, placental,related to excessive bleeding causing fetal compromise .
– Deficient fluid volume related to excessive bleeding.
– Risk for infection related to excessive blood loss and open vessels near cervix .
– Anxiety excessive bleeding, procedures,and possible maternal – fetal complications.
Nursing Intervention for placenta previa
Promoting tissue perfusion:
1. Frequently monitor mother and fetus,pulse,respiration,and BP,should be taken every 5-15 min in the presence of active bleeding or if the patient is unstable ,after stabilization vital signs should be taken every 30 to 60 min .
2. Administer I.V fluids as prescribed.
3. Position patient on her side to promote placental perfusion.
4. Administer oxygen by face mask ,as indicated.
5. Prepare for emergency delivery .
Maintaining fluid volume:
6. Establish and maintain a large-bore I.V line .
7. Draw blood for CBC ,platelets ,PT/PTT to be ready for any bleeding .
8. Assist the patient to a sitting position to allow the fetus to compress the placenta and decrease blood .
9. Inspect bleeding every 1 to 2 hours when stable ,or frequently as indicated
10. Note character ,color,and amount of bleeding.
11. If bleeding is profuse and delivery cannot be delayed,prepare the women physically and emotionally for a cesarian delivery.
12. Administer blood or blood products as prescribed.
13. Use septic technique when providing care .
14. Evaluate white blood cell (WBC) .
15. Teach perineal care and hand-washing techniques.
16. Assess odor of all vaginal bleeding or lochia.
17. Explain all treatments and procedures ,and answer all related questions.
18. Provide information on a cesarean delivery ,and prepare patient emotionally.
19. Encourage verbalization of feelings by patient and family .
20. Inform the women and her support persons that long term hospitalization or prolonged bed rest may be necessary and inform them of the effects.
– Women who have had placenta previa at risk for postpartum hemorrhage because of the decrease contractility of the lower uterine segment .
Like placental abruption, placenta previa is a serious condition that needs to be treated quickly.
Is the unintended termination of pregnancy at any time before the fetus has attained viability (20 weeks gestation or fetal weight of more than 500g)
Causes of Spontaneous abortion
1. Cause frequently unknown ,but 50% are due to chromosomal anomalies
2. Poor maternal nutritional status.
3. Maternal illness with virus ,such as rubella ,active herpes ,and toxoplasmosis .
4. History of diabetes ,thyroid disease.
5. Smoking or drug abuse or both .
6. Post mature sperm or ova .
7. Abnormal uterine development or structural defect.
8. Imperfect sperm or ova.
9. Environmental factors such as drugs,radiation,or trauma.
Signs and symptom
1. Uterine cramping ,lower back pain .
2. Vaginal bleeding usually begins as dark spotting ,then progresses to frank bleeding as the embryo separates from the uterus.
Complications of Spontaneous abortion
2. Uterine infection
1. Evaluate the amount and color of blood that is present.
2. Monitor maternal vital signs for indication of complication ,such as hemorrhage , infection.
3. Evaluate any blood or clot tissue for the presence of fetal membranes ,placenta,or fetus.
4. Risk for deficient fluid volume related to maternal bleeding .
5. Risk for infection related to dilated cervix and open uterine vessels.
6. Acute pain related to uterine cramping and possible procedures.
Nursing intervention of Spontaneous abortion
1. Maintaining fluid volume :
1. Report tachycardia ,hypotention,pallor,indicating hemorrhage and shock.
2. Draw blood for CBC as well as type and screen for possible blood administration .
3. Establish and maintain an I.V with large bore catheter for possible transfusion and large quantities of fluid replacement.
2. Preventing infection:
1. Evaluate temperature every 4 hours if normal ,and every 1 to 2 hours if elevated .
2. Check vaginal drainage for increased amount and odor,which may indicate infection .
3. Instruct on and encourage perineal care after each urination and defecation to prevent contamination.
3. Promoting comfort:
1. Instruct patient on the cause of pain to decrease anxiety .
2. Instruct and encourage the use of relaxation techniques to augment analgesics.
3. Administer pain medications as needed and as prescribed.
An ectopic pregnancy is one in which the fertilized egg implants in tissue outside of the uterus and the placenta and fetus begin to develop there. The most common site is within a Fallopian tube(96% of ectopic pregnancies occur in fallopian tube), the term (tubal) pregnancy is commonly used, however, ectopic pregnancies can occur in the ovary, the abdomen, and in the lower portion of the uterus (the cervix)
Causes of Ectopic pregnancy
1. The fertilized ovum implants outside the uterus
a. Most tubal pregnancies occur in the distal (ampullary) two –thirds of the tube .
b. Some are located in the proximal portion of the extrauterine part of the tube (isthmic)
c. Rarely , intrauterine and extrauterine gestation can exist as the same time .(heterotopic pregnancy)
3. Structural factors that prevent or delay the passage of the fertilized ovum include adhesions of the tube ,congenital and developmental anomalies of the fallopian or uterine tube .
4. Previous ectopic pregnancy.
5. Use of an intrauterine device for more than 2 years .
6. Multiple induced elective abortions .
7. Functional factors include menstrual reflux and decrease tubal motility.
8. Maternal age and race , previous tubal surgery ,history of pelvic inflammatory disease ,surgical correction of fallopian tube occlusions.
Signs and symptoms of Ectopic pregnancy
1. Abdominal or pelvic pain (most common).
2. Irregular vaginal bleeding , usually scanty and dark (most common)
3. Amenorrhea ,in 75%of the cases.
4. Abdominal tenderness on palpation.
5. Shoulder pain .
6. Increase pulse and anxiety .
7. Nausea ,vomiting, faintness, or vertigo .
Complication of Ectopic pregnancy
2. Hemorrhage and death.
1. Maternal vital signs .
2. Presence and amount of vaginal bleeding .
3. Amount and type of pain .
4. Presence of abdominal tenderness on palpation \ shoulder pain.
5. Date of last menstrual period .
6. Rh type .
Nursing diagnosis of Ectopic pregnancy
1. Risk for deficient fluid volume related to blood loss from ruptured tube .
2. Acute pain related to ectopic pregnancy or rupture and bleeding into peritoneal cavity.
3. Anticipatory grieving related to loss of pregnancy and potential loss of childbearing capacity .
Nursing interventions of Ectopic pregnancy
Maintaining fluid volume:
1. Establish an I.V line with a large-bore catheter ,and infuse fluids and packed RBCs as prescribed .
2. Obtain blood samples for complete blood count (CBC) and type and screen for whole blood ,as directed.
3. Monitor vital signs and urine output frequently ,depending on condition .
Promoting comfort :
1. Administer analgesic as needed and prescribed .
2. Encourage the use of relaxation techniques .
Providing support through the grieving process :
1. Be available to patient and provide emotional support .
2. Listen to concerns of patient and significant others.
3. Be aware that family may be experiencing denial or other stage of grieving .
Hydatidiform mole (gestational trophoblastic disease) is an abnormal pregnancy resulting from a developmental anomaly of the placenta ,It is characterized by the conversion of the chorionic villi into a mass of clear vesicles .there may be no fetus , or a degenerating fetus may be present , In this type of mole, the abnormal placental tissue has villi, clusters of tissue ,swollen with fluid, giving it the appearance of a cluster of grapes
If a fetus begins to develop along with a hydatidiform mole, it typically has many malformations and almost never can be delivered as a living baby
. The mole develops for a while the same as a normal pregnancy but there is no embryo. Only the placenta develops and, because of this, the hormones develop which will make a woman feel pregnant, and also test positive.
This condition may be picked up by a routine ultrasound scan.
Causes of Hydatidiform mole
1. Genetic abnormalities .
2. It arises in fetal rather than maternal tissue .
3. Large amount of B-Hcg are present secondary to the proliferation of chorionic tissue.
4. Chromosomal abnormalities ,malnutrition, hormonal imbalance, age under 20 or over 40, and low economic status.
Signs and symptoms of Hydatidiform mole
1. First trimester vaginal bleeding .
2. Absence of fetal heart tones and fetal structures.
3. Rapid enlargement of the uterus (size greater than dates)
4. Expulsion of the vesicles.
5. Hyperemesis(sever nausea and vomiting ).
Complications of of Hydatidiform mole
1. Significant blood loss.
Nursing assessment of Hydatidiform mole
1. Monitor maternal vital signs ,note presence of hypertension.
2. Assess the amount and type of vaginal bleeding ,note the presence of any other vaginal discharge .
3. Assess the urine for the presence of protein.
4. Palpate uterine height .
5. Determine date of last menstrual period and date of positive pregnancy test.
6. Evaluate CBC results and Rh type.
Nursing diagnosis of of Hydatidiform mole
1. Risk for deficient fluid volume related to maternal hemorrhage.
2. Anxiety related to loss of pregnancy and medical intervention.
Nursing intervention of of Hydatidiform mole
Maintaining fluid volume :
1. Obtain blood samples for type and screen ,and have 2 to 4 units of whole blood available for possible replacement .
2. Establish and maintain I.V line ,start with largeneedle to accommodate possible transfusion and large quantities of fluid.
3. Assess maternal vital signs ,and evaluate bleeding.
4. Monitor laboratory results to evaluate patient status .
1. Prepare the patient for surgery ,explain preoperative and postoperative care along with intraoperative procedures.
2. Educate patient and family on the disease process.
3. Allow the family to grieve over the loss of the pregnancy .