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Pregnancy Spotting: What’s Normal, What’s Not

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Pregnancy Spotting: What’s Normal, What’s Not

Pregnancy can be a joyful time, but it can also bring about a fair amount of worry. Perhaps nothing is more worrisome during this time than experiencing bleeding. But should you really be concerned?

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Why am I spotting or bleeding during early pregnancy?

There are a variety of reasons women may experience bleeding in early pregnancy. Most often there is no reason for alarm, as experts claim that as many as 25% of pregnant women experience some form of unharmful bleeding. Although less common, there are times when bleeding is indicative of a more serious condition.

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  1. One of the most common causes of spotting, and also among the earliest, is implantation. This is simply the fertilized egg “implanting” itself along the lining of your uterus.
  2. Spotting that occurs after a vaginal exam or sexual intercourse is also not uncommon. This is almost always harmless and happens as a result of changes in your cervix.
  3. Hormonal changes can bring about a variety of symptoms during pregnancy, and one of those symptoms may be light bleeding.
  4. If you have any type of cervical or vaginal infection during the first half of your pregnancy, then you can expect spotting to accompany it.
  5. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for some women to experience pregnancy spotting very early on as a result of a chemical pregnancy. A chemical pregnancy is a result of the fertilized egg not properly implanting, and, therefore, it fails to grow.
  6. Although less common than chemical pregnancies, some women will experience a molar pregnancy. A molar pregnancy is often believed to be a result of a genetic malformation and results in an unviable growth in the uterus. Aside from bleeding, women experiencing a molar pregnancy may notice swelling in their abdomen.
  7. When pregnancy loss occurs before 20 weeks gestation, and for unknown reasons, this is a miscarriage. Regrettably, miscarriages are fairly common. Most often bleeding is accompanied by cramps.
  8. An ectopic pregnancy, or tubal pregnancy as it is sometimes called, happens when the fertilized egg implants somewhere outside of the uterus. Ectopic pregnancy almost always includes heavy bleeding and severe pain.
  9. Some women will experience pregnancy spotting as a result of a subchorionic hemorrhage. Although the cause is unknown, this happens when there is bleeding around the placenta. The good news is that most women will go on to have a healthy pregnancy if this condition is detected early.

Why am I spotting during the last half of my pregnancy?

Bleeding in late pregnancy is less common than in early pregnancy, but it is not always a reason for concern.

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  1. Just as sexual intercourse and internal exams can cause spotting in early pregnancy, the same is true for later stages of pregnancy.
  2. While the average length of a healthy pregnancy is 40 weeks, some women do experience preterm labor, labor that occurs before 37 weeks gestation. If you are experiencing spotting combined with cramping in the second half of your pregnancy, this may be a symptom of preterm labor.
  3. Two common causes of late-term bleeding during pregnancy are due to problems with the placenta. Placental abruption occurs when the placenta detaches from the uterus. This condition is quite serious, but, fortunately, it is very rare. Placenta previa is less serious and occurs when the opening of the cervix is blocked by the placenta.

When should I call my care provider?

It’s important to keep in mind that most cases of spotting and bleeding during pregnancy are not serious. However, anytime bleeding is present during pregnancy it is a good idea to check in with your healthcare professional just to be on the safe side. This is especially true if the bleeding is heavy, lasts for multiple days, or is accompanied by pain.

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Featured photo credit: http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/simmbarb-49297 via freeimages.com

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