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The early stages in a pregnancy can be a worrying time for you and your partner, especially if your having problems. 1 in 10 women experience bleeding in early pregnancy but in many cases it is not caused by anything serious, however sometimes it can be a warning sign of a miscarriage.


What are the causes?

Here's is a list of a few common reasons for bleeding in early pregnancy.

  • Spotting – light bleeding at the time your first period after conception would have been due. This occurs as the pregnancy implants itself in the wall of your womb.
  • Infection
  • Miscarriage: occurs in 1 out of 4 pregnancies under 12 weeks
  • Cervical Ectropian– harmless changes to the cervix can cause bleeding especially after intercourse.
  • Ectopic pregnancy – the pregnancy is not in the correct place. This is less common but in some instances can be life-threatening to the mother.
  • Unknown causes.


What should happen next?

You should discuss your symptoms with your healthcare provider, attend hospital or an early pregnancy assessment unit (EPAU). Your healthcare professional will ask you questions about the bleeding and your pregnancy. An ultrasound scan may be arranged. A urine pregnancy test and blood tests may also be done.


What should I do if my scan is not on the same day?

If your particularly anxious you can arrange a pregnancy scan at our clinic, which can often be booked on the same day. However you should carry on with normal routine as much as possible. If you are in pain you could also take painkillers (paracetamol) to settle it down, unless told otherwise by your doctor. It is important to keep well hydrated so drink plenty of fluids, water being the best. You should not do any heavy lifting and avoid having intercourse until the bleeding has stopped. 


What should I do if I have more bleeding before the scan appointment?

If the bleeding is lighter than your normal period keep your scan appointment. If the bleeding is heavier than your normal periods please contact your hospital or attend A & E. 


The early pregnancy ultrasound scan

This scan will be a trans-vaginal or an abdominal ultrasound scan. Both scans are safe and do not increase your chance of a miscarriage. During the scan the practitioner will interpret the images on the screen. They may take measurements and record information on a computer system. The scan itself usually lasts around 15 minutes but can take longer. 


What will happen after the scan?

If the scan is normal you will be reassured and sent home. If the scan is abnormal the findings will be discussed with you. Sometimes however a scan may be inconclusive and you will need to come back in the future for a follow up appointment. This is not necessarily worrying and could simply mean things are not clear for a diagnosis. Try not to worry if this happens.


When will the bleeding stop?

There is nothing that can be given to stop the bleeding. It can take up to 10 days for the bleeding to settle down.



You should always contact EPAU or attend A&E if:

  • The bleeding lasts for more than ten days after the scan
  • The bleeding becomes heavier than a normal period
  • Unfortunately if the pregnancy is miscarrying, it is not possible to stop this, although 50% of women who attend EPAU with bleeding continue in their pregnancy.