Expert advice for one mom-to-be who worries about vaginal bleeding after sex and the potential risk for miscarriage.

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Q. I'm four months pregnant and had some spotty bleeding after the last time my husband and I had sex. My friends say this sometimes happens, but I'm terrified of miscarriage. Is it really safe to keep making love?

A. "Miscarriage is much less likely after the 12th week of pregnancy. However, you should certainly report vaginal bleeding to your healthcare provider at any stage, because it can indicate other problems, such as the placenta separating from the uterus," says Laura Riley, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston.

If you're only bleeding a little after intercourse -- spotting rather than flowing and you have no cramping -- you can probably rest easy. "It's not unusual for pregnant women to spot after intercourse in their second and third trimesters," says Dr. Riley. The increased blood supply to the cervix and vaginal walls means that blood vessels are more likely to break during intercourse, especially on the surface of the cervix, where it may come into contact with a man's penis.

Trying other lovemaking positions may help stave off spotting. Using the rear-entry position, sitting on top of your husband, or spooning together are several safe, comfortable options with which to experiment. If none of these moves thrills you, stay close by massaging each other or showering together.

Holly Robinson is a writer who lives with her husband and their five children north of Boston.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, December 2005.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

American Baby