Pregnancy Scare: Spotting

Julie Ryan Evans

pregnant woman
Flickr Photo by karindalziel
After a heartbreaking early miscarriage with my first pregnancy and a lot of time trying thereafter, we were finally pregnant again. We saw the heartbeat on the ultrasound, and I finally let out a sigh of relief as we approached the end of first trimester.

Then I saw it -- blood on the toilet paper when I wiped. Not a lot, but my heart sank, and I braced myself for the worst. Luckily, everything was fine, and the pregnancy progressed, but it was terrifying.

I've had countless friends go through the same scare over the years, and many pregnant women can't go to the bathroom without checking for spotting the entire pregnancy. Last week, Cynthia wrote about the "Pee and Peek," an all-too-familiar pregnancy ritual.

I caught up with Dr. Burt Webb of the Scottsdale Center for Women's Health to discuss spotting and what it really means during pregnancy:

How frequently does spotting occur in pregnancy?

 In the first 12 weeks it occurs roughly in one in 15 pregnancies. It then becomes more rare, although it may occur in 2-3 percent of the pregnancies after intercourse.

What's normal? What's not?

I do not consider any bleeding during pregnancy to be normal. Each time it should be looked into. However, at times I feel that it is not unusual and an example would be that it is not unusual to have some spotting after intercourse. Any PERSISTENT bleeding is not normal. But when bleeding does occur it should be evaluated to make sure there is not some new source of bleeding.

When should you panic?

Some women have bleeding throughout their pregnancy. Once all the pertinent issues or causes have been eliminated like placenta previa or threatened miscarriage, then the woman can feel more relaxed and not be in a panic mode. Persistent bleeding or bleeding associated with contractions should create more concern, but not more panic.

Have you experienced spotting during pregnancy?

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