Don't panic about early pregnancy bleeding
Bleeding can be alarming but try not to panic as it doesn't necessarily mean there's a problem. Bleeding in early pregnancy (your first trimester, which lasts until week 13) is quite common and in many cases it's no threat to your pregnancy.
But you should always report any bleeding to your doctor or midwife: In some cases bleeding is sign of a miscarriage.
The most common causes of bleeding early in pregnancy are implantation bleeding and hormonal bleeding. Neither is a sign of a problem with the pregnancy.
Early implantation bleeding happens when the embryo and placenta implant in the walls of the uterus. This usually appears as light spotting and some women mistake it for a very light period. But as not all women experience implantation bleeding, if you haven't noticed it, it doesn't mean that you're not pregnant.
Other symptoms of pregnancy you might not realise you have
Similar to implantation bleeding, this may occur around the time you'd usually have your period and is caused by early pregnancy hormonal changes in your levels of oestrogen and progesterone. It is usually light.
What else are your pregnancy hormones causing?
Light bleeding is sometimes called a "threatened miscarriage". If only threatened, the bleeding stops and the pregnancy develops as normal. But do head to your doctor for a checkup, as much for your peace of mind as anything else.
Heavy blood loss accompanied by stomach pain indicates a miscarriage. Clots may appear within the heavy blood flow and if this is foetal tissue, a miscarriage is inevitable.
Find out more about recognising the signs of miscarriage and when to go to hospital.</a>
What to do
Bleeding at any time of your pregnancy should be reported to your midwife. Try and give as much information as you can about the type of bleeding you are experiencing, including flow, consistency, colour and whether there are any clots or other bits of tissue along with the blood.
Your doctor will be able to find out more by conducting an examination. If you are diagnosed with a threatened miscarriage you'll usually be advised to get plenty of rest, avoid heavy exercise, cut back on work and avoid stress and sex until the bleeding has stopped. More often than not, women with a threatened miscarriage will go on to develop a healthy pregnancy.
If the doctor finds that your cervix is dilating or evidence that something is wrong with the foetus, then unfortunately this is a miscarriage and there is little they can do.
If you do suffer a miscarriage it's important to remember that miscarriages are very common, and women who have a miscarriage won't necessarily have to go through the experience again. Most will go on to carry a healthy pregnancy to term.
It's also important to know that you are not to blame for a miscarriage. Even when experienced at an early stage, miscarriages can be a very difficult experience. Needing time to recover both physically and emotionally is perfectly normal. Make sure you and your partner feel ready before you try again..
Read more on early pregnancy