Most women will go into panic if they experience vaginal bleeding during their first trimester but it is in fact quite common. 1 in 4 women will experience light bleeding in the first trimester and up to 70% of women have some sort of bleeding during their pregnancy. Most women will go on to have a perfectly healthy baby even if they have bleeding or spotting.
There are a number of reasons why light bleeding might occur. You may be experiencing breakthrough bleeding. This is when your pregnancy hormones are taking over your usual menstrual cycle and so you might a small bit of bleeding during the time your period would be expected if you were not pregnant. This can happen more than once.
There can also be some light bleeding when the fertilised egg is implanted in the uterus. This is likely to occur around the time your period would be expect so its difficult to tell the difference from implantation and breakthrough bleeding.
During pregnancy your cervix softens and a raw area can form which might cause bleeding. This is know as cervical erosion or ectropion. This can cause bleeding when the raw area has been chafed, for example by having sex.
Although bleeding during the first trimester is common, make sure to tell your doctor. If they feel its needs further investigating they may send you for an early pregnancy assessment to make sure everything is ok. These tests will include an ultrasound to check your baby’s heartbeat, arrange a scan, a blood or urine test to check your hormone levels and a cervical examination to ensure that your cervix is closed.
If your bleeding is heavy (if a pad is soaked after a few hours), is bright red or there is clotting then there is a good chance that you could be miscarrying. If you experience bleeding while also having cramps then there also may be a problem. If any of these things occur then go straight to your doctor or to a hospital.