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Fertility Health A-Z: Spotting

Spotting blood or light bleeding spikes fear into any pregnant woman who experiences it. Here’s what you need to know...

What is it?

It’s light bleeding from the vagina that’s triggered by hormones controlling your menstrual cycle. While it might sound scary, especially during pregnancy, it’s quite common during the first trimester. ‘If you’ve experienced spotting within the first few months of getting pregnant, don’t panic,’ says independent midwife Virginia Howes of Kent Midwifery Practice. ‘Most of the time spotting is usually harmless.’ Generally, in pregnancy the change in hormones stop you having a period. But, for the first month or so, the hormones may have not changed enough to stop a bit of bleeding.

What are the symptoms?

It’s similar to getting your period, but tends to be lighter and lasts for a shorter period of time. ‘You’ll notice some blood from your vagina around the time your period is due,’ says Virginia. This usually goes on for a few days for most women, but can last longer. Spotting tends to be much lighter than bleeding caused by other complications.

What can you do?

Firstly, don’t stress about it too much. Spotting won’t harm your baby and should stop on its own. But even if you think it’s harmless, it’s important to get it checked out in case it’s a sign of a more serious issue. During your doctor’s appointment, your practitioner may examine the inside your vagina. He may also suggest a blood and urine test or an ultrasound scan to eliminate any other causes of bleeding such as an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.

See your GP...

Spotting usually goes away by itself. ‘But whether you experience light, medium or heavy bleeding, it’s important to contact your midwife and let him/her know,’ says Virginia. You may only need a quick examination, or you could be referred – either way, they’ll be able to advise you on your next step. You could also contact your local early pregnancy assessment clinic. 

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