Although bleeding at any time during pregnancy may be a cause for concern, some spotting such as implantation bleeding, may be an early sign of pregnancy. Implantation bleeding is a harmless result from the fertilized egg nesting or burrowing itself in the lining of your uterus. Typically, implantation bleeding occurs six to 12 days after conception, and because the blood may be a few days old by the time you see it, it may be light pink or brownish red in color. Often, women mistake implantation bleeding for a light period, since it typically occurs around the time of your normal period. Any bleeding that is heavy and bright red in color may be something other than implantation bleeding, and thus, cause for concern.
Every month, your body prepares itself to support pregnancy. Your uterus builds up a rich lining to nourish and protect a potential embryo. If the egg that is released by your ovary goes unfertilized, your uterus sloughs this lining, resulting in a menstrual period. If the egg is fertilized, it makes its way through the fallopian tubes into your uterus where it will nestle itself deep in the protective lining. This burrowing can disturb some of the lining, resulting in light bleeding or spotting.
Bleeding during pregnancy can be quite common, particularly in the first trimester, with approximately 20-30% of pregnant women experiencing it. Although it can be a sign of miscarriage, bleeding by itself may not mean that it is imminent. 50% of these women will not miscarry. In your first trimester, bleeding that is accompanied by severe pain in your abdomen may be a symptom of an ectopic pregnancy. Since this is a serious complication, call your doctor immediately if you are experiencing these symptoms. Other possible causes for bleeding during the first trimester may be due to a pelvic infection or intercourse. For these reasons, you should discuss any bleeding with your doctor, even if you suspect that it is simply implantation bleeding.
If you are trying to get pregnant, watch for implantation bleeding — it may just be the welcome sign you are hoping for!