What can cause bleeding in later pregnancy?
Some women may experience a light bleed later in pregnancy. This is may not be from inside the womb, but from the cervix, which can cause bleeding after sex. This may settle and doesn't necessarily mean there is a problem.
However, you should contact the hospital maternity unit immediately so you can be checked, just in case.
Here are some possible causes of bleeding in late pregnancy.
A late miscarriage is one that happens after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, but before 24 weeks. It is also sometimes called a second-trimester or mid-trimester loss. Late miscarriages are not very common and happen in 1-2% of pregnancies.
Your midwife or doctor can discuss tests and treatment with you.
During pregnancy, there's a plug of mucus in your cervix. This mucus comes away before labour starts, or when in early labour, and it may pass out of your vagina. Find out more about the signs of labour.
Low-lying placenta (placenta praevia)
In some people, the placenta attaches low down in the uterus and may cover part of or all of the cervix (the neck of the womb). This may block the baby’s way out. In most cases, this would have been seen at one of your routine ultrasound scans and you will have an extra scan later in your pregnancy to see if the placenta has moved up. If the placenta does not move up, you may be offered a caesarean section.
You may also bleed heavily during your pregnancy and your baby’s birth. This can put you and your baby at risk. If you have a low-lying placenta and have heavy bleeding you may need emergency treatment – call 999.
Find out more about low-lying placenta.
This is a serious condition in which the placenta starts to come away from the womb wall. This causes vaginal bleeding and stomach pain.
Speak to your midwife, GP, or local maternity unit straight away if you think you have symptoms of a placental abruption.
This is a rare condition where the baby's blood vessels run through the membranes covering the cervix. These blood vessels are very delicate. If they tear when you are in labour or when your waters break, this can cause vaginal bleeding.
Contact your hospital maternity unit immediately if you are bleeding in late pregnancy. Find out more about vasa praevia.
What should I do if I have vaginal bleeding after 12 weeks of pregnancy?
Vaginal bleeding in pregnancy after 12 weeks is not common. If you have any kind of bleeding or spotting after 12 weeks, go to your local A&E or contact the hospital maternity unit immediately so you can be checked.
I’ve had a bump, fall or accident, what should I do?
If you’ve had a fall, bump or accident you should be checked by a doctor, GP, nurse or midwife – even if you are not bleeding.
If you have any vaginal bleeding or trauma to your bump (for example, if you fall over) contact your midwife or hospital maternity unit immediately. If you have rhesus negative blood, you may need an injection of anti-D. This will help protect any future pregnancies.
I’m having nosebleeds, what should I do?
Nosebleeds are quite common in pregnancy because of hormone changes.
These shouldn’t be anything to be worried about, but you should tell your midwife or doctor and they may check your blood pressure just to be safe.
I’m bleeding from my bottom (anus), what should I do?
A small amount of bleeding from the bottom may be due to a small tear or caused by piles (haemorrhoids). This is common in pregnancy.
These are swellings containing enlarged blood vessels inside or around your bottom. This causes itching, and pain or bleeding when having a bowel movement.
Speak to your GP, midwife if you are bleeding from the bottom. Don't use a cream or medicine to treat piles without checking it with a GP, midwife or pharmacist first.