How To Monitor Spotting or Bleeding During Pregnancy

Nurse talking to pregnant woman

Many women spot or bleed a little bit during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester.  Some causes are benign-nothing to be worried about. Benign causes of spotting or bleeding during pregnancy include implantation bleeding, a light menstrual cycle, spotting during or after sex, and an early sign of labor. 

However, spotting and bleeding can be symptoms of common pregnancy complications including miscarriage, ectopic or tubal pregnancy, placenta previa, vaginal infections, STDs or preterm labor.
The following tips may help you monitor your spotting or bleeding during pregnancy. If you have any concerns, you should contact your care provider immediately. Even if you consider the amount of spotting or bleeding minimal, you should describe it to your care provider.

  1. How much are you bleeding? Is it a little bit of light spotting when you wipe or on your underwear? When you urinate, are you seeing droplets in the toilet? Are you bleeding enough to put in a panty-liner to protect your underwear? How long can you go before you have to change it? Are you bleeding enough to need a sanitary pad? If you are bleeding any more than light spotting, you should contact your care provider immediately as this may be a sign of a serious complication.
  2. Are you having any other symptoms? Are you experiencing cramping? If so, you may be miscarrying or have an ectopic pregnancy. If you are past the second trimester and are experiencing cramping, contractions or a persistent back ache, you may be going into preterm labor. Contact your care provider immediately if you have any other symptoms.
  3. When was the last time you had sex or engaged in sexual activities? If you had sex recently and are experiencing light spotting, you may have burst a few capillaries in the vagina and cervix. This is normal and no cause for concern, though you may want to let your care provider know at your next prenatal appointment.
  4. How advanced are you in your pregnancy? If you are past 37 weeks, you may be going into real labor. If you are past the first trimester, you may be experiencing a pregnancy complication. Contact your care provider. 


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