Q&A: Is pregnancy spotting normal and when should I see a doctor?

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Q&A: Is pregnancy spotting normal?

Pregnancy spotting or light bleeding in pregnancy can be scary for an expecting mum, but it doesn’t always mean bad news.

In fact, pregnancy spotting is super common, and there is a whole range of causes, from the completely normal to somewhat serious. Pregnancy spotting is more likely to happen in early pregnancy, which is of course when mums are most worried about the chance of miscarriage.

Obstetrician and gynecologist at Sydney’s Mater Hospital, Dr Sean Burnet, told Mum’s Grapevine there are five things all mums-to-be should know about pregnancy spotting.

What causes spotting during pregnancy?

What causes spotting during early pregnancy? | Mum's Grapevine

“Spotting is light bleeding often caused by the fertilised egg planting itself in the wall of your
uterus – also known as implantation bleeding. This is normal and part of the pregnancy
process,” Dr Burnet told Mum’s Grapevine.

“Other possible causes of spotting in early pregnancy include miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy (when the pregnancy takes place outside of the uterus), and molar pregnancy (when the placenta develops abnormally). There are also causes of spotting which are not related to being pregnant, such as having polyps or cancer.

How common is pregnancy spotting?

Really common. Pregnancy spotting occurs in approximately 25 to 40 percent of all pregnancies.

Is spotting more common in a particular trimester?

Second trimester pregnancy symptoms

“Spotting often happens at the time your period would occur after conception. It is most common in the first trimester, between week five to eight of your pregnancy.”

According to Healthline, spotting in the second trimester can be caused by cervical irritation, which usually happens after a cervical exam or sex. Another reason you may experience second trimester spotting is a cervical polyp, which is a harmless cervical growth.

If you experience late pregnancy spotting in your third trimester it may be a bloody show or irritation after sex or exam. However, it could also be something more serious.

When is pregnancy spotting serious?

Dr Burnet explains that if you’re experiencing pain, heavy bleeding or blood clots, it’s important to work out the cause as soon as possible and seek medical attention.

Should pregnancy spotting always be checked by a doctor or midwife?

Yes. Just because pregnancy spotting is a common pregnancy symptom, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be checked. And it needs to be checked early. “At the Mater Hospital, patients can call and come to the maternity department at any time of the day or night if they have any concerns.

While bleeding around your due date is common – a sign that your body is getting ready for labour – it should always be investigated by your doctor or healthcare provider to ensure it’s not something serious, like placenta previa or abruption.”


Read next …

Wondering if your pregnancy symptoms are normal? Head to these articles next for a full rundown of symptoms for each trimester:

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