In early pregnancy, you may experience some light vaginal bleeding when your developing embryo implants itself in the womb (a.k.a. implantation bleeding). This kind of vaginal bleeding is completely harmless and often happens around the time when your first period after conception would have been due.
If what you see is brown or pink, similar to what you see at the end of your period, that’s spotting. If it’s bright red, consider it bleeding. The amount of blood you see is another red flag: Spotting doesn’t soak a sanitary napkin; bleeding may.
Causes of Vaginal Bleeding & Spotting in Early Pregnancy
Miscarriage occurs when the pregnancy ends before the 24th week of pregnancy and are relatively common. Up to 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in a miscarriage during the first trimester.
2) Ectopic Pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the womb – for instance in the fallopian tube, ovary, etc. This can cause vaginal bleeding but is more commonly associated with abdominal pain.
3) Local Causes: Cervical polyps, Cervical cancer
The majority of cervical polyps are non-cancerous or benign, and are common during pregnancy. Most of the time they do not cause any symptoms or problems and it’s likely that you wouldn’t even notice if you had one.
4) Bleeding After Sex
During pregnancy, the cervix softens and the blood supply to the cervix increases. As a result, sexual intercourse can cause light bleeding ranging from a few hours to several days after sex.
5) Unexplained Bleeding (in a Normal Pregnancy)
In about 1/3 of pregnant women, the cause of vaginal bleeding is unknown. In these cases, all investigations including ultrasound scans appear normal and the baby appears healthy and is developing well.
What You Need To Know
Remember, light spotting is common and usually nothing to be concerned about. Heavy bleeding that soaks through a pad, however, always warrants a call to your practitioner. But keep in mind, it’s not necessarily a sign that you’re miscarrying. Some women bleed — even heavily — throughout their pregnancies and still deliver healthy babies.
What To Do If You Notice Spotting Or Bleeding
It’s impossible to give blanket recommendations regarding spotting or bleeding because so many different factors can lead to it. The only truly universal bit of advice is this: If you’re worried, do not hesitate for a second to talk to your practitioner. If you are bleeding heavily (or even experiencing bleeding that looks like a period) your practitioner will likely perform an exam to see if your cervix has opened. If it has, the chance that you’re having a miscarriage is greater. But if your practitioner performs an ultrasound and your baby’s heartbeat is still detected, your chances of continuing the pregnancy are greater.