Bleeding during pregnancy: When to worry and when to relax


During pregnancy, there’s nothing scarier than spotting a drop of blood down there. Especially during the first trimester, when your hormones are surging and the risk of miscarriage is at its peak, finding blood in your underwear can spell instant panic. While you should always consult your health care provider with any medical concerns or sudden changes, here’s when it’s generally safe to take a chill pill and press pause on that panic:


Newly pregnant? It’s perfectly normal to experience light bleeding and mild cramping in the first week or two after conception. This can last up to a few days and some women may even confuse it for a light period. However, if you experience bleeding in addition to strong, persistent cramps and notice tissue passing through your vagina, consult with your doctor or midwife right away, as these may be signs of a miscarriage.


If you notice light bleeding after you’ve had sex, relax. By and large, instances of spotting after pregnant intercourse are perfectly normal. So, what’s the deal? To make way for baby, your body sends extra blood to your cervix during pregnancy – so it makes sense that you might experience some bleeding after you do the deed.

Pap smear

If you’ve just had your annual exam, you may experience spotting or very light bleeding. The reason? Just as above. Your cervix is receiving extra blood flow during pregnancy and any action down below can trigger a light spotting episode.

First trimester

Light bleeding during the first trimester is usually no cause for concern. In fact, nearly 20 percent of expectant moms experience some degree of spotting during this time. While you can generally rest easy if you don’t have uncomfortable or persistent symptoms, such as severe cramping, severe bleeding, fever, lightheadedness, or very severe vomiting, it’s always better to play it safe and call your doctor or midwife with any changes or concerns.

When to worry

Bleeding during your second or third trimester is abnormal and reason to call your health care provider right away. Any degree of bleeding during pregnancy at this time may indicate a complication such as placenta previa, uterine abruption, or even pre-term birth, that could put you or your baby at risk.

What to do

  • If you notice bleeding in the second or third trimester, call your doctor or midwife right away. He or she may send you to the emergency room or call you into the office for a full evaluation.
  • If you experience a high fever, severe cramping, serious blood loss, and/or dizziness, be safe and go to the emergency room. These symptoms may be signs of serious complications or miscarriage.
  • Wear a sanitary pad to assess the volume of blood loss.
  • Do not wear a tampon.
  • Notice the type of blood: Is it pink, brown, or deep red? Your doctor or midwife will want to know this information. 

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