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Pregnancy: Spotting

Some women may experience light bleeding and spotting in early pregnancy. This bleeding is most often the result of implantation. Implantation usually occurs one to two weeks after fertilization.

Pregnancy: Spotting

Spotting is considered a light or trace amount of pink, red, or dark brown (rust-colored) blood. You may notice spotting when you use the restroom or see a few drops of blood on your underwear. It will be lighter than your menstrual period. There won’t be enough blood to cover a panty liner.

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Spotting is a common concern that many pregnant women face.  Approximately 20% of women report they experience spotting during their first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

spotting is most commonly seen in the sixth and seventh weeks of pregnancy. Spotting wasn’t always a sign of miscarriage or meant that something was wrong.

Spotting during the first trimester may be attributed to:

  • implantation bleeding
  • ectopic pregnancy
  • miscarriage
  • unknown causes

Causes of Spotting

Implantation bleeding is a common cause of spotting early on in pregnancy. Implantation bleeding happens when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining. This can trigger a few days of light bleeding or spotting. This spotting often occurs before a woman even knows she is pregnant and is often mistaken as a pending period. Bleeding that occurs after the day a woman expects her period is typically too late to be considered implantation bleeding, and is more likely related to early pregnancy in general.

Another common cause of spotting is a cervical polyp (a harmless growth on the cervix), which is more likely to bleed during pregnancy due to higher estrogen levels. This may occur because there is an increased number of blood vessels in the tissue around the cervix during pregnancy. As a result, contact with this area (through sexual intercourse or a gynecological exam, for example) can cause bleeding.

Even without the presence of a cervical polyp, there are a few things that may cause some spotting in the couple days after:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Gynecological exam, such as a vaginal ultrasound
  • Heavy lifting/excessive exercise

To help manage your spotting during pregnancy and to increase the probability of continuing with a healthy pregnancy, your healthcare provider may encourage you to do the following:

  • Bed rest or more naps
  • More time off your feet
  • Staying well hydrated
  • Limit your physical activity
  • Elevate your feet when possible
  • Avoid lifting items over 10 pounds

Pregnancy tests

Related Content :

Tests Associated with Pregnancy

PURPOSE TEST NAME WHY PERFORMED WHEN PERFORMED WHO PERFORMED ON/SAMPLE
Genetic tests for inherited diseases Genetic testing for inherited diseases Check carrier status for certain genetic diseases to determine risk of having a baby with such a disease Preconception or first trimester Mother and father (blood sample)
Genetic testing for hemoglobin disorders Check carrier status for certain abnormal hemoglobin disorders to determine risk of having a baby with such a disease Preconception or during pregnancy Mother and father (blood sample)
Cystic fibrosis carrier testing Check carrier status for CF Preconception or first trimester Mother and father (blood sample)
Testing to detect health conditions in the mother Blood glucose or hemoglobin A1c To screen women at risk of type 2 diabetes (which is different than gestational diabetes) Preconception or first trimester Mother (blood sample)
Pap test and HPV testing Screen for cervical cancer and some STDs Preconception or first trimester Mother (cells from her cervix)
Immunity to rubella (German measles) Check for immunity to the virus, which can cause birth defects Preconception or first trimester Mother (blood sample)
HIV screening test Check for HIV infection so steps can be taken to reduce likelihood of transmission to the baby Preconception or first trimester; may be repeated in third trimester if at high risk Mother (blood sample)
Gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis tests Check for STD infections, which can cause miscarriage or infect the baby during delivery Preconception or first trimester; may be repeated in third trimester if at high risk Mother (cervical cells, urine or blood sample, depending on test)
Hepatitis B and hepatitis C screening Detect hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection Pre-conception or first trimester; may be repeated in the third trimester if at high risk Mother (blood sample)
Varicella zoster virus testing Check for immunity to chickenpox, which can cause birth defects Preconception or first trimester Mother (blood sample)
TORCH panel Check for infection with toxoplasmosis and other infections that can cause birth defects Preconception or first trimester, if infections suspected Mother (blood sample)
Bacterial vaginosis Detect infection, which can cause pre-term labor Preconception or whenever symptoms experienced Mother (vaginal secretions)
Urine culture for bacteriuria Detect bacterial infection in the urinary tract, which can lead to kidney infection or increased risk of pre-term delivery and low birth weight First prenatal visit or between 12 and 16 weeks of pregnancy; may be repeated in third trimester Mother (urine sample)
Group B streptococcus Detect infection, which can harm the baby during birth and infect the mother’s uterus, urinary tract, and any incision made during a cesarean section Between weeks 35 and 37 of pregnancy Mother (specimen from vaginal and rectal areas)
Confirmation and monitoring of pregnancy and health of mother Pregnancy test (hCG) Confirm pregnancy First trimester Mother (blood sample)
Urine screen for glucose and/or protein Check for signs of kidney or bladder infection, undiagnosed diabetes or gestational diabetes, or pre-eclampsia Each prenatal visit Mother (urine sample)
Complete blood count (CBC) Check for anemia and/or detect low platelet count Preconception and/or early in the first trimester; repeated in third trimester Mother (blood sample)
Blood typing and antibody screen Check for potential incompatibility in blood type between mother and fetus (such as Rh factor antibodies) First trimester; antibody screen repeated between weeks 28 and 29 of pregnancy Mother (blood sample)
Glucose challenge test/oral glucose tolerance test Check for gestational diabetes Between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy Mother (blood sample)
Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) In women with known thyroid conditions, to adjust medication if necessary Throughout pregnancy Mother (blood sample)
Detection of fetal abnormalities or assessment of risk First trimester Down syndrome screen Assess risk of carrying a fetus with certain chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome Usually between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy Mother (blood sample plus ultrasound)
Second trimester maternal serum screen Assess risk of carrying a fetus with certain chromosomal abnormalities or open neural tube defects Between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy Mother (blood sample)
Cell-free fetal DNA Assess risk of carrying a fetus with certain chromosomal abnormalities; currently recommended for women at high risk of having babies with these disorders During or after the 10thweek of pregnancy Mother (blood sample)
Chorionic villus sampling Detect chromosomal disorders in the fetus Between weeks 10 and 12 of pregnancy, if recommended Mother (cells from the placenta)
Amniocentesis Detect certain birth defects and chromosomal abnormalities Between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy, if recommended Mother (amniotic fluid)
Cordocentesis Detect chromosomal abnormalities, blood disorders, and certain infections Between weeks 18 and 22 of pregnancy, if recommended Mother/fetus (fetal blood sample obtained from vein in the umbilical cord)
Fetal maturity/readiness for birth Amniocentesis Check fetal lung development After week 32 of pregnancy if risk of pre-term delivery Mother (amniotic fluid)
Fetal fibronectin (fFN) Detect fFN; negative result is highly predictive that pre-term delivery will NOT occur in the next 7-14 days Between week 22 and 35 of pregnancy, if having symptoms of pre-term labor Mother (cervical or vaginal fluid sample)

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