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

It’s fairly common for women to experience some amount of bleeding during pregnancy. While it is relatively common and not necessarily an indication of a problem, spotting during pregnancy can be very concerning and should not be ignored. We’ll outline some common causes of spotting during pregnancy and let you know what you should do if you experience it.

Causes of Spotting During Pregnancy in the First 20 Weeks

Approximately 25 to 40 percent of women are estimated to experience vaginal bleeding during early pregnancy. Usually spotting in the first 20 weeks is relatively harmless and poses no risk to the baby, but it is important to know what to look. A few potential causes of innocuous bleeding are:

  • Implantation Bleeding: Light spotting is one of the early signs of pregnancy. Known as implantation bleeding, not every woman experiences this; however, it occurs once the fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus. Spotting usually occurs anywhere from 10 to 14 days after conception. Implantation bleeding is very light and usually occurs outside of the timeframe of your normal menstrual bleeding. If your cycles are normally very regular and you experience bleeding that is not in sync with your normal cycle, this may be an indication that implantation bleeding is occurring.
  • Sexual Intercourse: During pregnancy, the capillaries on the cervix increase in number and become enlarged. As a result, it’s possible to experience light bleeding following sexual intercourse. In this case, spotting during pregnancy is usually experienced right after sexual intercourse and resolves on its own.
  • Infections: Cervical bleeding can also be a result of an infection such as Chlamydia or another STI, requiring treatment.
  • Pelvic Exam: When your doctor or midwife conducts a gynecological exam during pregnancy, it’s possible to experience bleeding. The spotting is usually very light and subsides after a day or so.
  • Heavy Lifting: Heavy lifting or strenuous exercise or activity can also be a cause of bleeding during pregnancy.

While bleeding during early pregnancy may be due to the above reasons, it’s also possible that a more serious cause is at play such as:

  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Miscarriage
  • Chemical pregnancy
  • Molar Pregnancy
  • Subchorionic Hemorrhage

Causes of Spotting During Pregnancy After 20 Weeks

It’s important to note that after 20 weeks, the risk of miscarriage and certain other complications decreases. Despite this, bleeding during the second half of pregnancy should also be taken very seriously. Spotting during pregnancy after 20 weeks can be due to:

  • Pelvic Exams
  • Sexual Intercourse
  • Placenta Previa
  • Placenta Abruption

When to See a Doctor for Pregnancy Spotting

When it comes to bleeding during pregnancy, it’s critical to observe how heavy the bleeding is, the color of the blood, and how long it lasts. If the bleeding is extremely light (only leaving behind spots in your underwear and not enough to require a sanitary pad), it could be due to implantation bleeding or another more innocuous cause. Also, blood that is brown in color is less cause for alarm than blood that is bright red.

If you experience any bleeding or spotting during your pregnancy, the best thing to do is call your doctor immediately. It’s important to be examined by your doctor so that they can determine the cause of the bleeding. Depending on the cause, your doctor may prescribe medication or even order bed rest.

North Florida Ob-Gyn of Jacksonville Beach

Bleeding during pregnancy can be frightening, but most women who experience it go on to have a normal and healthy pregnancy. Contact your doctor immediately should you experience any bleeding during your pregnancy. At North Florida Ob-Gyn of Jacksonville Beach, we are committed to providing holistic gynecological and prenatal care to women across Northeast Florida. If you are experiencing bleeding or spotting during pregnancy, contact us to make an appointment.


By | 2019-10-08T09:26:23+00:00 October 8th, 2019|Obstetrics|0 Comments