Any bleeding during pregnancy can be terrifying for parents! Once you see that positive pregnancy test, you begin making plans for the future of your baby and the future of your family. Spotting and bleeding can happen at any point during your pregnancy. The best advice that I can give you is to arm yourself with knowledge and seek out medical help when you aren’t sure if the symptoms you are experiencing are normal.
Three Kinds of Bleeding or Spotting
Spotting in Early Pregnancy
This type of spotting can happen to some women when their embryo is in the implantation phase. This kind of spotting is caused by the embryo or placenta implanting into the uterine wall. The spotting you may have in this situation would be light and pink in color. Seeing your physician or midwife, who can send you for a blood pregnancy test can be very reassuring to parents in this situation.
Sometimes pregnant women will experience some spotting after a pelvic exam or after intercourse. This spotting will also be light and pink in color. This type of spotting during pregnancy can also be very normal as the blood flow to your cervix increases during pregnancy. This kind of spotting would happen close to the event that caused it, would result in a day or two of light pink or brown spots, and would not be accompanied by any pain. If you ever aren’t sure, you should contact your physician or midwife.
Abnormal bleeding during pregnancy can feel incredibly stressful. Abnormal bleeding is classified as heavy, bright red, and may be accompanied by some pain. This type of bleeding should never be ignored and should be considered an emergency. There are several conditions that can cause heavy bleeding in your pregnancy, not all of them end in miscarriage.
Abnormal bleeding in the first trimester can be an indication of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or abnormal pregnancy. Seeing a physician immediately will help determine why you are bleeding. You will be offered blood tests, a pelvic exam, and an ultrasound. It may take several days to confirm the status of your pregnancy. Rest and reassurance can help you during this time.
Abnormal bleeding in the second and third trimester can be an indication of any number of issues, not all of these issues mean that you are losing your baby. Any abnormal bleeding in your second and third trimesters will require immediate attention from a specialized health care provider, such as an obstetrician. You will be assessed, offered blood work, a pelvic exam, an ultrasound, and a non-stress test (depending on your gestation). Abnormal bleeding accompanied by abdominal pain will require an emergent trip to the hospital for assessment of yourself and your baby.
If You Are Concerned
I suggest talking to your physician or midwife early on in your pregnancy about bleeding and spotting. Ask them what they suggest you do in the event of bleeding or spotting. Every situation is different, and every health care provider offers different services. If you are ever bleeding or spotting and you are concerned, don’t hesitate to get assessed. Generally speaking, prior to 20 weeks gestation, you would contact your physician or midwife, or your local emergency room; after 20 weeks you would contact your physician or midwife, labor and delivery department, or call 9-1-1. Always remember to advocate for yourself and your baby, ask to see a specialist, confirm your condition with an ultrasound, and follow up with your physician or midwife. On one last note, if you experience bleeding at any time in your pregnancy and you develop anxiety because of it, you should reach out to a professional in your community to discuss that anxiety. There are lots of roller-coaster emotions that Mamas experience during pregnancy and there’s nothing wrong with seeking help to process those feelings.