Spotting During Pregnancy – What You Need To Know

Spotting During Pregnancy – What You Need To Know

Pregnancy is a time of nerves and excitement – you’re growing a baby inside you and are patiently waiting to meet him.

If you’re expecting your first baby, or if you’re expecting a rainbow baby (a baby after a previous loss), you might be extra concerned about pregnancy symptoms. You love and want this baby so much, and his wellbeing matters to you more than anything else in the universe right now.

For many women, the first sign of pregnancy is a missed period. From that point on, we expect to have no bleeding or spotting until after the birth. What might come as a surprise is that nearly 50% of all expectant mothers experience some spotting or bleeding in their pregnancies.

Here’s what you need to know about spotting during pregnancy, for your peace of mind as an informed mama-to-be:

What Is Spotting?

Spotting is very light bleeding. This would be finding a little bit of blood in your underwear, but not soaking through. It’s finding a bit of blood on the toilet paper after wiping. If you need a liner or pad, have a menstrual like flow or see any clots, that would be referred to as bleeding, not spotting.

What Causes Spotting During Pregnancy?

With nearly 50% of women experiencing bleeding or spotting during pregnancy, we assume that it isn’t always an alarming signal. In some cases we are never sure why the spotting or bleeding occurred. In other cases, we know the cause.

Some causes of spotting during early pregnancy:

  • Implantation, when the embryo attaches to the uterine lining
  • Having sex
  • Hormonal changes
  • Internal exam by your midwife or doctor
  • Cervical changes or irritation of the cervix
  • Infection

Some causes of spotting later in pregnancy:

  • Cervical insufficiency
  • Having sex
  • Infection
  • Internal Exam
  • Preterm labour
  • Cervical changes

What Should I Do If I Notice Spotting?

If you notice spotting during pregnancy, it can be helpful to put on a panty liner to see if the spotting continues or turns into bleeding (it can be hard to gauge with underwear). Note if you recently had intercourse, as well as how many days it’s beensince ovulation and if you recently had an internal exam. All of these things can cause spotting during pregnancy.

When Should I Contact My Midwife or Doctor?

It’s a good to mention to your care provider if you are spotting, but it’s rarely necessary to contact your provider after hours for simple spotting. If you don’t have any pain or concerning symptoms, and your spotting doesn’t increase in frequency or amount, the spotting isn’t likely an emergency.

Contact your care provider as soon as possible if:

  • Your spotting becomes bleeding
  • You have pain
  • You have pain or irritation when you urinate, or,
  • You are uneasy

You should seek medical attention immediately if your spotting is accompanied by severe localized pain, as it can be a sign of a rare but serious concern, ectopic pregnancy. According to a study, the main risk factors for ectopic pregnancy are having pelvic inflammatory disease, smoking, and previous ectopic pregnancy.

You should also seek medical attention if your spotting quickly becomes bleeding and you soak through a pad in less than 1-2 hours.

What Will My Care Provider Do For Spotting During Pregnancy?

In many cases, spotting during pregnancy is not a concern and nothing needs to be done. Your care provider is likely to begin by asking you about your recent activities and symptoms.

If you had an internal exam or intercourse in the last day or two it is most likely from cervical irritation. In this case nothing is usually done. If you experience spotting every time you have intercourse your provider might recommend pelvic rest (nothing in the vagina) or they might reassure you it is a common pregnancy ailment.

If you’re experiencing any pain or discomfort, especially with urination, your provider might do a urine sample and vaginal swab. This is to check for a urinary tract infection, such as a bladder infection, bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection. Depending on the results you might be prescribed a medication or cream.

Your provider might ask if you know when you ovulated. In some cases spotting is simply due to implantation. Implantation bleeding can occur 6-12 days after fertilization. In many cases women aren’t aware they are pregnant when this occurs, but a few are and notice the spotting.

Spotting that occurs frequently and without any known triggers might be a hormonal concern. Your provider may want to do some lab work to check your hCG and progesterone levels. This can give them an idea of what might be going on. If your progesterone levels are borderline low they might prescribe progesterone supplements. If your hCG levels or progesterone are off, they may simply repeat the test in a few days to see how your pregnancy is progressing.

If you are far enough along in your pregnancy an ultrasound might be useful. Your provider will check your placenta, cervix and baby to see if there is a cause for spotting and if the pregnancy is viable. Their course of action would be dependent upon results.

In many cases though, little investigation or treatment is necessary.

Things To Keep In Mind

Pregnancy is a good span of time, so it is likely many mamas will experience some concerns. Outside of pregnancy many women occasionally experience spotting, UTIs, and cervical irritation so spotting, even when occurring during pregnancy, isn’t always a pregnancy problem and reason to worry.

It’s a good idea to notify your care provider of any bleeding or spotting during pregnancy. Depending on your blood type, Rh disease might be a concern (for those who are Rh negative). However, this is easily prevented with medication.

As mentioned, nearly 50% of expectant mamas experience spotting or bleeding during pregnancy. While miscarriage is unfortunately a possibility, spotting in and of itself does not always equal a cause for concern. Many women that experience spotting go onto have a healthy full-term baby.

 
Last Updated: July 21, 2015

CONTRIBUTOR

Maria Silver Pyanov is the mom of four energetic boys, a doula, and a childbirth educator. She is an advocate for birth options, and adequate prenatal care and support. She believes in the importance of rebuilding the village so no parent feels unsupported.


10 comments

  1. Hi,

    I think I am 2 weeks pregnant but it has been 2 days I am having very light bleeding with also cramping.I don’t feel pregnant but could this be a sign of miscarriage?I need some answers??

  2. i was 4weeks and 4days pregnant when i started seeing little bleeding for 7days , at the 5th day i went to my doctor he enjected me and gave me tablets to stop the bleeding , at the same day i saw thick dark blood came out of my private part , and since then i ve been confused cos i no longer have pregnant signs pls someone shuld help me could that be sign of misscarriage or the baby is there

  3. Hi veryone,I just want to ask I was 6 weeks pregnant then I have spots 4 days already then just today is small circle thick blood came out to my part is it normal pls guys, need your advise.tnx

    1. With the thick blood if it’s a clot dark in colour you might have miscarriaged ;(
      Iv had two and think I’m on my third i would go have a blood test to see hcg levels to confirm your doctor should get them back with in 24 hrs

  4. Hi I am now 5 weeks and 4 days it s my first I was taking clomid 50mg helped me on the first time. I have a history of PCOS. experienced most pregnancy s symptoms today is the first day I noticed bleeding its very light almost red/pinkish water (to describe it) I have no pain no cramps would it be okay? or should I be concerned
    thanks

  5. I missed my period for November and I took a test it shows positive then two weeks after am bleeding now its mild bleeding not heavy small clots coming down too but I did a ultrasound but the baby is still in the womb so I don’t know am confused the doctor say I must come back two weeks times with another ultrasound test am scared

  6. Hi everyone l an 20 weeks pregnant and is my first time but I have seen light blood it only come for 2 days and stop while my normal circle days is 5 day what do l call this because I am confused

  7. Hi all I have a blood clot near my placenta the doc told me on the 12th of April it can go way by it self
    Since then I have been having dark dark brown discharges and that also first thing morning when I gave just stepped out of bed
    The rest of the day there’s nothing
    I’m 17+ weeks pregnant
    Help is this normal

  8. Hi am 6 weeks and 2 day and just want to know am got light bleeding and am a bit worried am seen my doctor today

  9. I’m 6 weeks and 3 days today. This is my 4th pregnancy. I’ve been spotting for a week now. Very light the first 3 days not even enough to put a panty liner on. It showed when I whipped but not every time I used the restroom. The 4th and 5th day was still not enough to wear a panty liner, but the spotting became bright red for 3 of the bathroom runs I did for both days. Now it’s back to very faint pink spotting not even enough for a panty liner. I have no cramping or any other symptoms. What should I do?

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