Bleeding During Pregnancy: The 2nd and 3rd Trimester 16

While bleeding during pregnancy in the first trimester is quite common and usually not cause for concern, most of the cases later in pregnancy are far more rare, but also often less benign unfortunately.

bleeding during pregnancyYou may also find these posts on early bleeding during pregnancy that may be mistaken for a period or bleeding or spotting during the first trimester helpful. Some reasons for light bleeding in the first trimester covered in the above linked post also apply later in pregnancy such as cervical changes or damage, sub chronic hematoma, and infection.

Causes of bleeding during pregnancy:

Placenta abruption: Placenta abruption occurs when the placenta partially or completely separates from the uterine wall before birth. This can deprive your baby of nutrients and oxygen. Minor abruptions can be managed with rest.

Uterine rupture: Uterine rupture is most common in women who have previously had a c-section and is rare even in that case. Usually during early labor contractions, the uterine wall tears causing uterine rupture. Uterine rupture is life threatening to both mother and child and requires emergency c-section.

Placenta Previa: Placenta previa occurs when the placenta partially or completely covers the cervix  (the opening from your womb to the vaginal canal.) Depending on the severity of placenta previa, treatment may range from bed rest at home without physical exertion or sex to emergency c-section.

Vasa previa: Note that this condition is quite rare occurring in 1 in every 2000 pregnancies, but is seen more in those who also have placenta previa. Vasa previa occurs when the blood vessels in the umbilical cord block the cervix. It is harmless during pregnancy, but can prove fatal to your child during delivery as the rupture of these vessels will cause blood loss from the baby.

Incompetent cervix: Incompetent cervix occurs when the cervix is weak and attempts to open or does open before the end of your pregnancy. This condition is present throughout pregnancy, but isn’t typically symptomatic causing bleeding during pregnancy until the baby becomes large enough to begin placing weight on the cervix. It is one of the most common causes of second trimester losses. You may notice increased pressure, as if your baby has dropped into the pelvis, a change in discharge prior to spotting or bleeding, back pain, or contractions. An incompetent cervix can be treated by stitching the cervix closed if caught before preterm labor has occurred.

Miscarriage or Premature labor: Before 20 weeks an attempted loss or loss is still referred to as a threatened miscarriage or miscarriage, after 20 weeks it is referred to as premature labor. All of the above mentioned causes of bleeding during pregnancy can also be a cause of miscarriage or preterm labor. Certain infections, abdominal trauma, and chromosomal abnormalities can also be to blame, but in other cases no cause is known. Take heart, however, in knowing the current rate of miscarriage after a heart beat is seen at 8 weeks is a mere 1 percent.

As mentioned in the other installments of this series on bleeding during pregnancy, any bleeding, no matter how slight, should be reported to your doctor right away. Light bleeding during pregnancy is very likely no cause for concern, heavy bleeding can be more serious, but either way, better safe than sorry.

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16 thoughts on “Bleeding During Pregnancy: The 2nd and 3rd Trimester

  • Andi

    I am 29 weeks 3 days pregnant and have a pink discharge when I used the restroom tonight and I’m worried. I’ve been drinking lots of fluids…
    Is this normal? Gonna be a first time mommy

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Bleeding this late along is less common, I would contact your care provider just to be sure this isn’t the beginnings of preterm labor (if you haven’t done so already, I apologize for my slow reply over the holiday season) a day of heavy activity, infections, or sex can also sometimes cause a bit of spotting in the third trimester, but better safe than sorry.

  • poline

    Hi,I’m 4 weeks n 8 days pregnant.last week I lightly spotted but became heavier afterwards I had a scan n I was told everything is OK this morning I spotted once lightly what could be the cause. Kindly advice

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If they did a scan and didn’t find any hematoma or low lying placenta, since it’s ongoing, it could be hormonal. If they haven’t already, it may not hurt to test your hCG and progesterone. Sometimes a progesterone cream can be needed.

  • Anonymous

    I am 13+3 and last night I started to get a little light brown, smelly spotting. It’s still continuing this morning and I have very very mild period like cramps as well. I’m just a little worried because I didn’t have anything like this in my first pregnancy.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If it smells, I would call your health care provider. Some infections can cause spotting and even miscarriage. Spotting itself can be entirely harmless though, and from things as benign as light cervical bleeding.

  • rosa

    Hi Im 10 weeks. Ive had incompetent cervix with my last 2 pregnancys.i had my first ultasound yesturday and nothing was said.I havent had sex since i found out I was pregnant. This morning I wiped a weird dark brown to dark orange kind of snot discharge. Im worried because Ive had a preterm miscarrage at 23 weeks. I usualy get the circlage at 14 weeks. Is this a sign that I might be dialating already?

    • unwirklich admin

      On account of your history I would skip the wondering and call your prenatal care provider. It could be nothing, but then it could be something. You know? There’s really no way to tell without a check.

  • Sally

    Hi today i had a rare discharge . It was a thin dark brown line what can it be ? . I am worried because I never had this before I am 26 weeks pregnant

    • unwirklich admin

      It sounds like old blood, lots of things can cause minor bleeds such as intercourse (cervical trauma not affecting the baby) and heavy exercise. Any bleeding should be reported to your prenatal care provider though, just to be safe. If you aren’t having contractions or pain, it’s probably nothing to worry about.

  • Harlene


    I am 20 weeks pregnant and I have different kinds of discharge everyday since week 16: pinkish milky discharge, and dark brown discharge (looks more like poop when dry) both very odorous but not fishy. At 16 to 17 weeks I was treated with antibiotics because I was found to have vaginal infection (Enterococcus faecalis) after a full dose my doctor did not do another round of culture. After ultrasound at 19 weeks – cervical length and placenta are normal. Baby is also healthy and normally growing for his age.
    What could be causing this bleeding? I am really really worried.

    • unwirklich admin

      Infection can cause bleeding, have you mentioned it to your care provider since the first round? It’s possible the antibiotics didn’t work, and infection can cause preterm labor. All else I can think of beyond preterm labor, is cervical trauma from intercourse perhaps? Assuming the bleeding is light.

    • unwirklich admin

      At 37 weeks you could be losing your mucus plug. Light bleeding can be normal, though it could also be late preterm labor. I would give your care provider a call.

    • unwirklich admin

      Any bleeding in the 3rd trimester you should speak with your care provider. Very light bleeding and cramping can be normal, but it can also be a sign of preterm labor.