Brown spotting during early pregnancy can be very concerning for the mother-to-be as well as her family. It is stale blood which is released from the reproductive tract. In most cases, light bleeding and brown spotting in early pregnant is harmless and not a reason for any concern. Despite this, it is always a good idea to rule out any possible causes of brown spotting during pregnancy, especially the serious problems, such as early miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy.
Is Brown Spotting During Early Pregnancy Normal?
Spotting is any light bleeding from the vagina and is similar in nature to a period, with the exception of being much lighter. This blood that is discharged can range from red to brown. If you experience brown spotting during early pregnancy, you don’t necessarily need to worry, as a little bit of spotting during this time is common. In fact, as many as 1 in 5 pregnant women experience some bleeding during the first trimester. However, spotting can also indicate a serious problem, like miscarriage, you should always visit your doctor if you experience brown spotting.
The chances of brown spotting during early pregnancy increase for women who conceive with fertility treatments. It is possible that two embryos were placed into the uterus and one stops developing, a phenomenon known as a vanishing twin which is associated with some bleeding.
What Are the Most Likely Causes of Brown Spotting During Early Pregnancy?
Implantation bleeding refers to bleeding taking place between 10 and 14 days following conception and this process is common and normal. It happens when the fertilized egg becomes attached to the uterine lining, causing light bleeding.
The implantation bleeding typically happens when a woman would expect her period, but it is much lighter and only lasts a short time. It is possible to not experience implantation bleeding or not notice it happens. It may even be mistaken for a period, making it harder to determine your baby’s due date.
Other Possible Causes
In some cases, there will be other things that can lead to light bleeding or brown spotting during early pregnancy. These include:
Cervical irritation: pregnancy hormones will impact the sensitive cervical surface, increasing the risk of bleeding, particularly after intercourse or a vaginal ultrasound. Cervical irritation causes a small tear, resulting in brown discharge lasting 2 or 3 days.
Uterine growth: the uterus grows in order to reach the size and shape necessary for the embryo developing. This may lead to stretching of surrounding tissues as well as the uterus and some light bleeding. Because the bleeding associated with uterine growth is light and slow, the blood becomes brown by the time it exits the body.
A vaginal or cervical infection can cause brown spotting during early pregnancy which is usually accompanied with pain, itching, and burning sensation near the vaginal region. The infection should be treated at the earliest.
Old blood is one of the body’s means of protecting the fetus. When the body doesn’t need the old blood any longer, it will be discharged in form of brown spotting.
Fibroids are the growths along the uterine lining. The placenta may embed where the fibroid is, causing brown spotting.
Cervical polyp is a small and harmless growth.
Inherited disorder, such as Von Willebrand Disease, can make it harder for blood clots to form.
Are There More Serious Causes of Brown Spotting During Early Pregnancy?
Although it may surprise most people, miscarriage is actually very common, affecting at 30 percent of pregnant women. Most of the time a miscarriage will occur before a person realizes she is pregnant or misses a period, meaning that they are not necessarily noticed or reported. These early miscarriages are typically due to an unhealthy fetus that could not survive the full pregnancy.
If your brown spotting during early pregnancy is due to an early miscarriage, then you will likely experience severe or persistent abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding which is particularly heavy and includes blood clots, an early end to morning sickness or sudden lack of breast tenderness early on. If these symptoms occur, you should seek medical attention immediately.
It is also possible to have brown spotting from an ectopic pregnancy. This dangerous condition can threaten a mother’s health. It occurs if the fertilized eggs is implanted in a fallopian tube as opposed to the uterus and if ectopic pregnancy isn’t noticed and treated, the fallopian tube may burst. This bleeding can continue, having a watery, dark appearance.
This can lead to serious illness and if left untreated, ectopic pregnancy can be life-threatening. The pregnancy must be removed by your doctor immediately.
A molar pregnancy, or hydatidiform mole, is a type of benign tumor which develops within the uterus. It begins with the fertilization of an egg, but the placenta becomes an abnormal cyst mass. Complete molar pregnancies will not have any normal placental tissue or embryo, while partial ones may include an abnormal embryo and normal placental tissue. The embryo will start to develop, before failing to survive due to malformation. There are serious complications (such as cancer) of a molar pregnancy, so it should be treated immediately.
What to Do If I Have Brown Spotting During Early Pregnancy?
Inform Your Gynecologist
Anytime you notice brown spotting during early pregnancy, you should visit your gynecologist immediately. Your gynecologist will likely do a pelvic or internal exam and then suggest the proper treatment based on their diagnosis. In some cases, your gynecologist may also perform a Doppler ultrasound to locate your baby’s heartbeat as well as the placenta position.
If there is severe abdominal cramping, pain, or blood loss, or a miscarriage, you will need to be hospitalized to manage the bleeding and pain.
Follow Your Gynecologist’s Advice
To help increase the chances of a healthy pregnancy and manage spotting during your pregnancy, your healthcare provider may suggest you doing the following:
Take more naps or going on bed rest
Spend more time off your feet
Limit your physical activity
Elevate your feet if possible
Don't lift anything heavier than 10 pounds
Wearing panty liners when comfortable
Avoid using tampon as they may help germs enter the vagina
Don’t do self-treatment under the assumption that you have a vaginal infection as there are other possible causes as well
Keep in mind that most women who have brown spotting during pregnancy will continue with a healthy and normal pregnancy, but it's imperative that you should still contact your doctor and discuss your symptoms.