Spotting during pregnancy – Causes and what you should do

Spotting during pregnancy

What is spotting and is it common during pregnancy?

Spotting is a form of light bleeding from your vagina. It may look similar to a period, but is much lighter. And the colour can be in the spectrum from light pink to dark brown. Spotting during early pregnancy is quite common with as many as one in five women experiencing some kind of bleeding during pregnancy.

However, sometimes, spotting could be a sign of something more serious, such as miscarriage.

And better safe than sorry. This is why it is best to get it checked out by a physician.

What causes light bleeding or spotting in pregnancy?

Initial spotting could happen at about the same time that your period was due, and could last only for a day or two. It may just be a speck on the toilet paper when you wiped.

There is no decided cause that this occurs. It could be due to:

  • Pre menstrual hormone surge
  • Implantation bleeding - the fertilised egg housing into your uterine lining causing some light bleeding.

What else can cause spotting?

There can be other things within your body that could have caused some bleeding:

  • Cervical irritation/infection.
  • A harmless growth on your cervix (cervical polyp).
  • Fibroids or enlarged blood vessels. Sometimes, the placenta embeds where there is a fibroid.

What are the possible serious causes of spotting/bleeding in pregnancy?

Sometimes however, bleeding in early pregnancy could also be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage. In both cases, it will also be accompanied with abdominal pain and cramping.

A miscarriage can occur with the baby is not developing normally and in such cases the bleeding will become increasingly heavier. While early miscarriage is a heartbreaking thing, it is also fairly common.

You may see bleeding during pregnancy in the case of an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is one which happens when the fertilised egg implants anywhere outside of the uterus. The bleeding in an ectopic pregnancy will be dark and watery in appearance. An ectopic pregnancy could potentially make you seriously ill, so you must get it removed quickly.

A rarer cause of bleeding is a molar pregnancy that affects only about one in about 700 pregnancies. It happens when an implanted embryo isn’t able to develop properly, but the placenta continues to grow. A molar pregnancy must also be removed as soon as possible.

Finally, It is also possible for an injury to your belly, perhaps a fall, to trigger bleeding.

What should I do if I notice bleeding?

Call your doctor, or the hospital, even if the bleeding eventually stops. You may have to go to hospital for further tests. Your doctor may examine your vagina, or give you an ultrasound scan. A scan can put at ease the speculation of an ectopic pregnancy and check that your baby is well.