At the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, each patient is an important member of her own care team and education is the cornerstone of our high-quality care. Find information about bleeding in early pregnancy.

Any bleeding during pregnancy needs to be reported promptly to your healthcare provider. However, bleeding is common during the first three months (12 weeks) of pregnancy and may or may not be a sign of a problem. It can range from slight brown spotting, to bright red bleeding, may last from a day to weeks and may be accompanied by mild cramping or low backache. Many times, the bleeding stops on its own and the pregnancy continues normally.

Note: mild, low abdominal cramping without bleeding is common in the early weeks of pregnancy.

Causes

Most women fear that bleeding means they are miscarrying. There are other reasons for bleeding in early pregnancy: the hormonal changes of pregnancy; implantation bleeding, when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus; cervical bleeding. Sometimes, no cause for vaginal bleeding can be found.

 

About 15% - 20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. A miscarriage can be the body’s response when, for some reason, the pregnancy is not developing normally. Most early miscarriages cannot be prevented. Remember, heavy lifting or intercourse will not affect a healthy pregnancy and will not bring on a miscarriage.

 

Treatment

Your healthcare provider will examine you to determine the cause of the pain and/or bleeding. The following examinations and tests may be ordered:

  • Pelvic exam
  • Blood pregnancy test
  • Ultrasound

If your blood type is RH negative, a vaccination of Rhogam may be necessary.