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A pregnant woman lives with a lot of anxiety. There are many fears revolving in her mind all the time. Seeing blood on her undergarments can give her a panic attack. Bleeding during pregnancy is a sign of miscarriage. Spotting during pregnancy is not equivalent to bleeding. Most women fail to understand the difference between bleeding and spotting during pregnancy. The main difference lies in the amount of blood. Spotting is light staining and bleeding is like a flow. A pinkish or brown discharge is spotting. Bleeding is generally bright red because it is fresh.
Spotting during early pregnancy
About 1 in every 5 pregnant woman experiences spotting during early pregnancy. Light spotting during pregnancy first trimester is due to normal reasons. Your uterus is adjusting to the new kind of hormones. The cervix becomes extremely sensitive and a slight running can cause spotting. Brown spotting during pregnancy may be any old blood coming off the vagina. After you are pregnant your period undergo temporary cessation. The old blood from previous period can now come out as brown spotting.
Spotting during pregnancy first trimester is normal and needs no worrying. Spotting during first month of pregnancy may be implantation bleeding. Implantation is the process of attachment of embryo to the uterus. When the embryo grows it needs nourishment and so it implants to the uterine lining. This causes bleeding called implantation bleeding.
Reasons for Spotting During Pregnancy
There are various reasons for spotting during pregnancy at different stages.
Spotting during Pregnancy first trimester
It is normal for about 20% woman to experience spotting during first trimester. Spotting during pregnancy occurs at first and last trimester. Spotting is not harmful as it is mostly old blood or just a few drops. The reasons for spotting during first trimester are implantation and other processes.
- Implantation bleeding: The most common cause of spotting during pregnancy is implantation. It is the process of attachment of baby’s cells to the uterus. This is necessary for deriving nutrition for growth. When implantation occurs you may experience cramps and spotting. They are signs of implantation.
- Hormone fluctuations: During early pregnancy a lot of hormonal up and down occurs. Various hormones keep falling and shooting their levels. This is the main reason for mood swings and morning sickness. The hormonal orchestra can even lead to spotting during first trimester.
- Pap smear: The vagina and cervix are extremely sensitive during pregnancy. Any examination of those regions requires use of tools. They go inside the vaginal passage. This irritates the lining and causes bleeding. The bleeding doesn’t last for long. This is what women see as spotting during pregnancy. You may feel itching and burning for a while along with spotting. But it will soon subside.
- Cervical changes: The cervical region undergoes many changes. There is growth of the uterus. All this leads to angiogenesis. It is formation of new blood vessels. It can cause spotting and cramping during pregnancy. The old blood may come off the vagina as the fluids fill the uterus.
- Uterus growth: The uterus grows from the size of a fist to that which holds a baby. It crushes the nearby tissues. This doesn’t mean that it will injure them. But during the process spotting during early pregnancy occurs.
- Sexual intercourse: Sex during pregnancy is very different from normal sex. This doesn’t pertain to the sexual act but the after effects. Some sex positions may not be comfortable any longer. Spotting after sex during pregnancy is a sign that you need to avoid doing it that way.
- Sexually transmitted diseases: Spotting due to inflammation of vagina during pregnancy is hazardous. When you are pregnant you must practice safe sex. Safe sex is advisable otherwise too. If you have multiple sex partners during pregnancy then you are at risk of spotting due to STD. Using a condom avoids such mishaps.
- Miscarriage: Even though this point will give your knots in your stomach we need to mention. Spotting during pregnancy is a sign of impending miscarriage. Chemical pregnancy occurs within the first few weeks of pregnancy. Spotting is one of its sign. There is nothing to worry about. Most women have miscarriages in their lifetime. Some don’t even come to know that they were pregnant and think that it was period.
- Ectopic pregnancy: Tubal pregnancy is when the embryo implantation isn’t successful. Ectopic pregnancy is extra uterine pregnancy. There embryo doesn’t travel down to the uterus. It instead implants in the fallopian tubes. Extremely painful cramps and spotting during pregnancy follow this. Ectopic pregnancy is difficult to diagnose at an early stage. It needs medical attention.
- Molar pregnancy: A molar pregnancy occurs when the sperm fertilizes an empty egg. The tissue that was going to become a baby, grows into an abnormal mass. Molar pregnancy has spotting as one of its symptoms. Despite not having a baby Molar pregnancy still shows symptoms of pregnancy.
- Sub chorionic bleeding: There is a space between layer outside and the placenta. Blood can collect here. This later comes off as spotting or sub chorionic bleeding. There is nothing to worry as it stops by itself. It doesn’t continue for long. You may need a panty liner for some time.
- Breakout bleeding: Breakout bleeding is normal bleeding at the time of expected period. Women might experience this kind of spotting for the first three months of pregnancy. Others may continue to experience it throughout their pregnancy. It is normal and these woman go on to have healthy pregnancy and babies.
- Medications: Some medications may also cause spotting during pregnancy. Antidepressants are essential for females having depression during pregnancy. Leaving antidepressants course can cause relapse of depression. So they will have to continue with the dug despite seeing spotting during pregnancy.
Spotting during Pregnancy last trimester
Spotting during third trimester is as common as that during first trimester. This is because as the time of delivery nears the membranes will start rupturing. There are few major reasons for spotting during pregnancy third trimester.
- Placenta Previa: This is the condition of low lying placenta over birth canal. The placenta is not well supported. It sags down and covers the birth canal. The blood vessels may compress under the pressure. This causes spotting during last trimester.
- Uterine abruption: If a woman is pregnant for the second time then she can undergo uterine abruption. Uterine abruption is the testing of uterus tissue. C section scar from previous surgery can tear off. This is why it is best to undergo a natural labor and delivery and avoid future complications. Any sort of surgery can leave scars and cause spotting later on.
- Vasa Previa: Blood vessels of baby placenta or umbilical cord come through birth canal opening. This can jeopardize baby’s life. The blood vessels coming out can undergo breakout bleeding. If that happens then baby’s vessels open and oxygen supply cuts off. Reduced oxygen supply reduces the ability of baby to move.
- Placenta abruption: Placenta removes from uterus and blood accumulates between placenta and uterus. If the placenta detaches from the uterus then there can be bleeding. If the tearing is not major then the bleeding may stop. This causes spotting during pregnancy. However, if due to any reason the placenta completely detaches from the uterus then it can lead to extreme complications. You must inform your doctor if you have pain along with spotting during pregnancy.
- Premature labor at 37 Weeks: There are many reasons for preterm labor. Even after 37 weeks it is still premature labor. Pregnant water leaking should not occur at this time. If you see spotting during this phase of pregnancy immediately inform your doctor. With proper precautions a preterm birth can be saved from death. Intensive care unit for neonates has many such provisions to provide the best care for prematurely delivered babies.
- Losing your mucus plug: When your pregnant water leaking begins, you lose your mucus plug. This is signal that you can go in labor at any moment. This is the time when women shift to hospital. Traveling to hospital later on is life threatening.
Is Spotting During Pregnancy Normal?
Spotting during pregnancy is normal if it is in moderate amounts. A heavy bleeding during pregnancy is not normal. You can consult with your doctor if you experience other problems like itching and cramping. Your doctor may advise you the necessary steps to prevent spotting during pregnancy. Is it normal to spot during pregnancy? Yes it is very common. Even after knowing this it does scare women. This is solely because of the few negative reasons for spotting during pregnancy.
How much Spotting is normal during pregnancy?
Spotting during pregnancy is normal if it doesn’t soak a pad. If you wear a liner and it gets soaked then it is not normal. Similarly spotting at different times of the day during pregnancy is normal. If you continue to bleed unstoppably then something is wrong. Spotting during pregnancy without any other symptoms is normal. It is best to consult a doctor if you feel that something is wrong. Spotting during last trimester needs medical attention. This is because at that time it may be a hint for a premature labor.
What to do when spotting during pregnancy?
If you are spotting during pregnancy then it may be a sign that you need some more rest.
Here are ways to stop spotting during pregnancy:
- Sleep with many soft pillows under your feet.
- Spend more time seated
- Have a healthy diet
- Take bed rest
- Avoid lifting heavy weights
- Consult your doctor about any sports you play
- Stay hydrated to avoid shedding and cracking of blood vessels
Spotting during pregnancy is not something to worry about. Most women who have spotting go on to deliver healthy babies.