Spotting in Early Pregnancy: Causes and Symptoms

Spotting is one of the early signs of pregnancy. The best way to confirm pregnancy is by taking a pregnancy test. Although pregnancy symptoms before a missed period can give you a clue that you have taken in.

You still need a positive ​pregnancy test to be 100% sure you are.

Is it normal to Bleed in the First Trimester?

Heavy bleeding in early or late pregnancy is not normal.

Around 20% of pregnancies experience a form of light bleeding in the first 12 weeks. And this does not result in miscarriage. 

Implantation spots is usually noticed around week 3 of pregnancy. This is a week before you miss your period.

By week 4 of pregnancy, the embryo would have fully implanted and  more pregnancy hormones are released into your blood stream.

It is safe to test for pregnancy a week after you have a missed or late period.​

Causes of Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding in Pregnancy

Possible causes of first semester bleeding are:


Implantation normally occurs around 6-12 days after conception. But most common 6-7 days after conception.

When a sperm meets a matured egg that has been released during ovulation. Conception occurs. Then the fertilised egg travels down the fallopian tube while dividing rapidly.

It finally arrives in the uterus around 6-7 days post conception. Although ​it could take longer up to 12 days in some women.

The uterine lining provides a great place for the embryo and as well as nourishes it.

The embryo then digs deep into the lining in the walls of the uterus to implant itself.​

This implantation process may cause some blood to flow and as well as cramping.

Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg implants itself outside the uterus. Especially in the fallopian tube.

The proper place for an embryo ​to implant itself is in the uterus. 

An ectopic pregnancy is severe and can be threatening to the pregnant woman. Because if the embryo keeps growing in the fallopian tube, it can burst and this a very dangerous situation to be in.

Only 2% of pregnancies end up being ectopic. Other symptoms to look out for are: abdominal cramping and feeling light headed. 


Miscarriage is one of the most common causes of bleeding while pregnant. A miscarriage is the loss of a baby before the 20th week.

Not all women who experience abnormal vaginal bleeding end up in miscarriage.​

If you notice any form of heavy vaginal bleeding while pregnant see the doctor immediately.

Molar PregnancY

Molar pregnancy is an abnormal growth in the uterus. It occurs when the tissues that are expected to become a foetus, becomes an abnormal growth instead. 

Instead of having a baby grow in the uterus, you start to have an abnormal growth.​

Apart from spotting and cramping, other symptoms usually resembles early pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, vaginal discharge  and uterus getting bigger.​

Placenta Previa

Placenta previa (low placenta) usually occurs in the third trimester or late pregnancy.

Although rare, 1 in 200 pregnancies experience their placenta sitting low.​

It can turn to an emergency situation when you start to bleed with a low sitting placenta.

Placenta Abruption

Placenta abruption occurs when the placenta detaches itself from the walls of the uterus. It is the separation of the placenta from the lining of the uterus.

It usually occurs in the third trimester and it happens in only 1% of pregnancies.

It is a life threatening condition for the mother and baby​. symptoms are: Vaginal bleeding, uterine tenderness, Abdominal pain, rapid contractions and abnormal fetal heart rates.

Preterm Labour

This occurs when labour begins sooner than expected. A normal pregnancy is expected to last for 40 weeks.

Any labour before the 37th week is termed premature.

If you notice up to five uterine contractions in an hour or less, call for the doctor or midwife immediately.​

Other symptoms are: menstrual-like cramps in the lower abdomen, excessive or abnormal vaginal discharge or blood.

Sexual Intercourse

Cramps and bleeding after intercourse may be due to the position of the cervix, or your man hitting the cervix during sex.

Other comfortable intercourse positions are recommended for pregnant women.​

Subchorionic Hemorrhage

Also known as subchorionic bleeding, it is the accumulation of blood between the uterus and the placenta.

This is one of the major reasons for light or heavy spotting in the first and third trimester.

It is usually detected during a routine ultrasound and it occurs in 1% of pregnancies.​

What Does Pregnancy Spotting Look Like

Pictures of pinkish or brownish blood spots.

Pregnancy spotting

Spotting is a very light version of your period. It is usually light pink or light brown in color. And it also resembles fresh blood.

Brown Spotting before period is usually a sign of pregnancy, signifying implantation.

The difference between spotting vs Period is that:

  • Pregnancy spotting usually last for a few hours to 48 hours. Whereas you period last for 3-7 days.
  • Your Period is light on the first day gets heavy in the middle and gets lighter on the last day. Implantation spotting is a very light spots of blood and doesn't get heavier.

Bleeding in first trimester is common, whether  8 weeks or 5 weeks pregnant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.