Although bleeding in pregnancy can be very frightening for women, it is fairly common. It doesn’t always mean that there is a problem.
If you are under 20 weeks pregnant and experiencing vaginal bleeding please contact your GP (in working hours) or call NHS 111 out of hours. Click here for more information.
There are many different causes of bleeding in later pregnancy and these need to be investigated by your maternity hospital to monitor your baby to rule out any problems.
call an ambulance if you have severe abdominal pain with signs that you may have lost a lot blood:
Go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department or phone 999
call your maternity unit immediately if you are bleeding and have any of the following:
self care at home if you have no red or amber signs and you have:
Please monitor your blood loss by wearing a maternity sanitary pad.
Contact your maternity unit if you are still concerned
These can lead to bleeding, particularly after sex.
Your midwife or doctor can discuss tests and treatment with you.
This is when the plug of mucus that has been in the cervix during pregnancy comes away, signalling that the cervix is getting ready for labour to start. It may happen a few days before contractions start or during labour itself.
This is a serious condition in which the placenta starts to come away from the womb wall. Placental abruption usually causes constant stomach pain, and this may occur even if there is no bleeding.
Low-lying placenta (placenta praevia)
This is when the placenta is attached in the lower part of the womb, near to or covering the cervix. Bleeding from a low-lying placenta can be very heavy, and can put you and your baby at risk.
You may be advised to go into hospital for emergency treatment, and a caesarean will usually be recommended.
This is a rare condition where the baby's blood vessels run through the membranes covering the cervix.
When your waters break, these vessels may be torn and cause vaginal bleeding. The baby can potentially lose a life-threatening amount of blood.
Your local maternity unit is staffed 24 hours a day with obstetrician s and midwives to help care for you, your baby and your pregnancy related health concerns. For some AMBER concerns it may be possible to be seen in a midwifery led unit if it is more convenient for you. For health concerns that are not related to your pregnancy you are advised to see your GP, call NHS 111 out of hours, or attend A&E if it is an emergency.
To find the contact numbers for your local maternity unit, please click here.
Whilst you may have individual contact details for your community midwife, if you are concerned about your pregnancy we advise you call the maternity unit on the numbers provided because staff are available 24 hours a day. Please do not leave urgent voicemails or text on a community midwife’s phone.
GPs assess, treat and manage a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, give vaccinations and can arrange referral to a hospital specialist should you need it. Whilst pregnant, you will have regular appointments with a midwife but it is still important to continue with any ongoing care from your GP.
NHS 111 can ask you questions to assess your symptoms, give you advice or can put you in touch with a GP out of usual working hours.
Use NHS 111 if you are unsure what to do next, have any questions about a condition or treatment or require information about local health services.
For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?
A&E departments provide vital care for life threatening emergencies, such as suspected heart attack or breathing difficulties. If you are not sure it’s an emergency, call 111 for advice.