When you are pregnant for the first time, things can get a bit confusing. In fact, understanding whether you are pregnant can itself be a nervous and puzzling affair. Do not panic. The first signs of pregnancy are pretty general and as long as you are calm and clear in your head, you will be able to recognize them without any difficulty.
It is of common knowledge that when you are pregnant, you stop bleeding monthly. This phase is medically termed as amenorrhoea. What is relatively lesser known is that amenorrhoea is not an absolute sign of pregnancy. Often, you may come across a mom-to-be who is experiencing what is called implantation bleeding, or simply, spotting.
Spotting usually occurs in the initial months following fertilisation of the embryo. An expecting mother may find herself bleeding during her regular expected date of menses. There is nothing to worry about, for this is not pathological. In gynecology and obstetrics, this is called placental sign or Hartman’s sign.
What exactly is spotting?
Implantation, as we know, is the fertilised egg attaching itself to the mother’s uterine wall. Once that is done, pregnancy is officially established and the uterus undergoes several changes in order to be an accepting home for the embryo developing there.
Soon, hormones like progesterone bring about differentiation of the inner lining of the uterus. Of the three parts, the one called decidua parietalis undergoes cyclic shedding akin to that during a normal menstrual cycle. This results in spotting.
How long does it last?
It is pertinent to mention here that spotting does not occur mandatorily in all pregnant women. Every human being is genetically different and the question of spotting depends on the woman and her pregnancy. Further, many with implantation bleeding may even fail to notice it.
Knowing how long spotting usually lasts is, therefore, very important. It can occur anytime up to week 12 of pregnancy, which is around the time of the second expected menstrual cycle. Spotting does not last for the same amount of time in all women, but in most cases, it is only for a couple of hours. Some women have also reported spotting for as long as two days.
If your bleeding does not stop after two days, it may be a good idea to consult your physician. Heavy bleeding during pregnancy almost always indicate that something is wrong, and if that is indeed the case, it’s best to seek professional help.
Are you sure it is implantation bleeding?
Knowledge regarding the differences between implantation bleeding and normal menstruation are not that obvious. It requires careful observation to understand whether your spotting is actually that.
A few easily distinguishable points include amount of blood, color and duration. Spotting always involves scanty bleeding. A lot of flow is not normal when you are pregnant. The color of blood ranges from brown to blackish, in contrast to the vibrant red during menstruation. Finally, the duration of spotting is two days maximum. On the other hand, your periods last for 3-6 days.
What to do now that you have made sure it is spotting?
Spotting is a self limiting phenomenon that stops within a couple of days. There is nothing to worry about and there are no treatment guidelines available for this.
Spotting is considered as a symptom of pregnancy in the first trimester. So if you are experiencing scanty bleeds of brownish color, you may take a pregnancy test at home just to be sure. A urine pregnancy test will show a positive result if you are pregnant. Your doctor may even send you for a sonogram if he or she suspects pregnancy.
Complications that may arise
If your bleeding is lasting too long, or if you are having pain or bodily discharge, you need to seek medical aid. Miscarriages usually present with bleeding, cramps and pain, but here, the amount is, of course, a lot more than in spotting.
Ectopic pregnancy, i.e., the fertilised egg getting implanted at any site other than the uterus, is another cause of bleeding. This is because the new site is unsuitable for accommodating the growing embryo. So once it ruptures, the person experiences excruciating pain in her lower abdomen accompanied by bleeding. This is an emergency and requires surgical attention.
The only way to avoid these complications is to learn to detect the problem as early as possible. Understanding the differences between spotting and pathological bleeding is an absolute necessity for that matter.