Spotting during pregnancy is a very commonly encountered concern for the couple. Spotting refers to any light bleeding from the vagina that may be noted anytime during pregnancy, i.e. from the time of conception or fertilization to the end of pregnancy. It is often noticed as few spots of blood in the underwear, or while wiping with a tissue paper. In most of the cases, spotting is considered to be normal and nothing to worry about. However, it is advised to consult a gynaecologist if spotting is noted to rule out any complications. It is also important to differentiate heavy bleeding (needs a liner or a pad to prevent staining) from spotting, as heavy bleeding during pregnancy could be something alarming.
How Long Does Spotting Last During Pregnancy?
Spotting is commonly noted during the first trimester of pregnancy. About 20% of all pregnant women experience some sort of spotting during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. These spotting episodes during pregnancy are rather random and last for one to 3 days. In some cases the spotting during pregnancy can extend for up to 7 to 10 days or even more in few women.
What Causes Spotting Last During Pregnancy?
The most common cause of bleeding during pregnancy is due to ‘Implantation Bleeding’. Implantation bleeding is noted during the first few days of pregnancy and last for a couple of days. It occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall. This light bleeding is often mistaken as period bleeding as the woman may not be aware of being pregnant. However, if the bleeding occurs after the expected date of period it may not be due to implantation bleeding.
Other causes of spotting during pregnancy includes cervical polyp; which is a small harmless growth in the cervix area. Cervical polyp along with high estrogen level can lead to occasional spotting through-out pregnancy. This spotting occurs when there is irritation in the cervix during sexual intercourse or during gynaecological examination, due to increased blood vessels in the tissues around the cervix.
Other causes of spotting during pregnancy could be due to sexual intercourse, heavy lifting, vigorous exercising, and vaginal ultrasound during pregnancy.
Management of Spotting during Pregnancy
It is advised to contact an obstetrician if any spotting is noted. Though most of the episodes of spotting in the first trimester are considered as normal, it is advised to get it checked by an experienced obstetrician. Any spotting noted in the second or third trimester may indicate complications with the mother or the baby. Abnormal bleeding during the pregnancy may also indicate possibilities of ectopic pregnancy. In majority of cases, the following is advised by the healthcare professional for continuing healthy pregnancy after an incident of spotting:
- Ample bed rest and adequate sleeps
- Plenty of fluid intake for adequate hydration
- Limiting physical activities and other strenuous activities
- More time off feet
- Advised to maintain leg elevation as much as possible
- Avoid lifting heavy items and carrying them (items more than 10 pounds).
- Implantation bleeding: What it is and how to recognize it. (2021). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-answers/implantation-bleeding/faq-20457898
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting during pregnancy. (2021). American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/vaginal-bleeding-or-spotting-during-pregnancy
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