Spotting during pregnancy isn’t always a sign that something is wrong.  Let's investigate more.

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Spotting during pregnancy is a sign of ongoing pathological process in most cases. Even though it isn’t always a sign that something is wrong, it must be taken seriously in order to ensure spotting does not constitute any threat to your pregnancy. Spotting in pregnancy refers to minimal bloody vaginal discharge that may be provoked or unprovoked due to various reasons.

What are possible causes of spotting in early pregnancy?

Implantation bleeding is of one of the causes of spotting in early pregnancy. Some women experience implantation bleeding usually between 5 to 10 days after conception or fertilization; at the time blastocyst burrows itself into the uterine wall. Implantation spotting is normal and not a sign that anything is wrong.

Spotting in early pregnancy can also result from improper placentation such as placenta previa and subchorionic bleeding. Spotting can occur due to accumulated blood under the chorion, the outer fetal membrane close to placenta or between placenta and the uterus.

Spotting can as well occur throughout pregnancy and in most cases accompanied with strains while passing stool, after intercourse or after any strenuous physical activity.

Ectopic pregnancy is also a condition that can present initially with pregnancy spotting (especially in the first trimester) but is also associated with moderate or severe abdominal pain, significant bleeding or increase in the circumference of abdomen due to accumulation of blood within uterus.

Moreover, spotting during pregnancy may also occur after sexual intercourse as a result of cervical polyp or pimple that may likely erodes because of penetration. Tender and swollen cervical changes during pregnancy can result in light bleeding when irritated during intercourse or pelvic examination. This kind of light spotting doesn’t indicate any problem as well.

In some cases, different vaginal or cervical infections may also present with spotting in pregnancy like gonorrhea and Chlamydia, especially when irritated. Most importantly, pregnancy spotting is very likely at the onset of labor process when mucus plus is released.

How is spotting during pregnancy different from vaginal bleeding?

In most cases, spotting is a milder form of vaginal bleeding that may be normal during pregnancy; but vaginal bleeding is mostly serious and generally an outcome of some serious problems that may affect pregnancy progression.

Spotting is also different in appearance compared to vaginal bleeding in the sense that it appears mostly as dried drops or stains of blood on undergarments and sometimes later presents as fresh red blood in significant amounts.

How can spotting in pregnancy affect the health of the baby?

In case of normal placentation, a recurrent kind of spotting may be a sign of threatened or impending abortion. So recurrent episode of spotting in pregnancy is a cause of concern and it had to be reported to your doctor.

When should I see my healthcare provider for spotting during pregnancy?

You must see your healthcare provider for any episode of significant pregnancy spotting. It may just be implantation bleeding or rupture of a vaginal pimple. There are various reasons why many pregnant women spot, your healthcare provider will conduct necessary investigations to determine appropriate cause of your spotting and suitable course of treatment.

Sometimes your healthcare provider may order an ultrasound to confirm your baby’s well-being, check fetal heart rate, gestational sac and possibly conduct some diagnostic tests.

Caution to be taken for recurrent spotting during pregnancy?

If you experience recurrent episodes of spotting during pregnancy and your blood group is Rh negative, it is important you take Rh-D immunization at or before delivery to make sure your subsequent pregnancies are free from any possible future complications.

In case of recurrent spotting, it is recommended you avoid vigorous physical activity like climbing stairs, lifting heavy weight or even sexual intercourse.

If you experience any kind of light spotting such as the one you see at the start or end of your monthly period, there is nothing to worry about. Most women who spot during pregnancy continue to have safe pregnancy and end up delivering completely healthy babies.

As a general advice, keep up with all your antenatal check-ups and don’t hesitate to tell your doctor about any concerns you may have about your spotting experience.

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