“Thankfully the most common cause [of spotting] in early pregnancy is cervical congestion which is essentially just pressure bleeding from the superficial lining cells of the outer cervix. It is of no harm to mother or baby,” he states .
In some cases, bleeding and cramping can become more severe, and may indicate miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. The symptoms for these include cramping, stomach pain, spotting and bleeding. If your pain is intense head straight to your doctor, emergency department or call 000.
So, how do you know when to feel concerned and when to seek medical advice? It is always better to err on the side of caution, but read on for helpful guidance.
Cramping and spotting meaning explained:
Cramping and spotting in early pregnancy is where you may experience light to moderate cramping pains and produce either a brown discharge or a pink discharge. Dr Jurcevic expands further “Fresh and heavy is always more concerning but it doesn't absolutely indicate that the pregnancy has or will fail”. He continues,“Pain may or may not be associated”. Cramping is when the muscles in your lower back and abdomen spasm. While cramping is uncomfortable, it should be manageable.
Why am I spotting and cramping and is it normal?
Spotting and cramping during pregnancy-and certainly slight bleeding or cramping, is the cause of much concern to expecting mothers. Particularly in the first trimester. Dr Jurcevic had this to say, “Whilst bleeding is never 'normal', more often than not the pregnancy is fine. That said, it may indicate an imminent or progressive miscarriage”.
Cramping and spotting is often due to your muscles stretching from the growth of your baby. Your cervix is adjusting to hold your developing baby. While this is more common in the first twelve weeks, throughout your pregnancy it is normal to experience cramping as your uterus expands.
Some women do not experience any cramping at all, while others find it really uncomfortable. Generally, mild cramping and spotting is bearable and not too bad.
Is it normal to bleed and have cramps during early pregnancy?
As Dr Jurcevic advises, although not categorised as ‘normal’ it is common and usually no cause for alarm. However, bleeding at 12 weeks pregnant with cramping, particularly heavy cramping, may indicate miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy and it is best to see your doctor as soon as possible.
That being said, Dr Jurcevic advises “Bleeding in the first trimester is rarely ever life threatening to the mother”.
Wearing a panty liner will allow you to see exactly how much spotting is occurring. If you are losing similar amounts of blood (or more) than during your period, you should seek medical advice asap.
Why am I spotting and cramping?
Cramping and bleeding during early pregnancy is common. There are a variety of causes for particular to the first trimester. They include:
Implantation: The essential part of any pregnancy. Implantation occurs when the egg attaches to the wall of the uterus, and it takes place within the first few weeks of pregnancy. Sometimes you can feel cramping and experience bleeding as well.
Ectopic Pregnancy: When the fertilised egg implants outside of the uterus, (usually in the fallopian tube). This causes internal bleeding which will result in spotting and heavier bleeding and pain.
Molar Pregnancy: Occurs when the cells that form the placenta grow into abnormal cells instead.
Growth: Your body is growing, and the muscles and ligaments are stretching and pulling. The level of discomfort is different for everyone but quite normal.
Vaginal Tearing: During sex it is common for the vagina to receive microscopic tears. Sometimes you may bleed slightly from this. Cramping after sex when pregnant is also common. Sex is very safe for the baby.
Sub-Chorionic Hematoma: This is bleeding between the placenta and uterine wall. It is serious and can lead to miscarriage.
Other Medical Concerns: Spotting and cramping may be unrelated to your pregnancy. Other conditions such as appendicitis and urinary tract infections may occur. Haemorrhoids are common in pregnancy and can bleed and be quite painful.
Bleeding after 12 weeks of pregnancy
After 12 weeks of pregnancy, any bleeding should be reported to your doctor. Dr Jurcevic advises “In later pregnancy it may indicate premature labour, a placental bleed or cervical weakness (incompetence)”.
Finally, Dr Jurcevic had this to say, “When you are worried, which is usually always! Certainly, if the bleeding is heavy or painful a review and scan would be worth considering”.