Spotting is light vaginal bleeding, usually a small amount of blood that wouldn’t soak a panty liner. Spotting might be bright red in color, or it might appear pink or brown.

What causes it?

Although any bleeding should be taken seriously during pregnancy, spotting in the first trimester is pretty normal. Pink or brown spotting in the first few weeks of pregnancy is likely implantation bleeding. In the first trimester, spotting might be a side effect of pregnancy-related hormone changes, or uterine polyps and fibroids. However, spotting in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy might also be caused by more serious conditions like infection, miscarriage, an ectopic or molar pregnancy, or cervical insufficiency.

Later in pregnancy, spotting is less common. Any color or amount of spotting might be a sign of a pregnancy complication, like preterm labor or problems with the placenta or the uterus, all of which require medical treatment. Towards the end of pregnancy, pink spotting might be the bloody show.

Throughout pregnancy, normal activities like sexual intercourse or a pap smear by a healthcare provider may also cause spotting.


Any spotting during pregnancy should always be discussed with your provider. It isn’t always a sign of a problem, but to be on the safe side, you’ll want to let your healthcare provider know when you experience this symptom. If you notice extremely light spotting that goes away in a few hours, you can let your provider know about this within 24 hours. Any other kind of spotting – especially after the first trimester – should be reported to your healthcare provider right away, so that he or she can rule out an underlying condition and make sure everything is progressing as normal.

  • Jeffrey Boyle, MD. “Is Spotting During Pregnancy Normal?” SanfordHealth. Sanford Health, Sep 2016. Web.
  • “Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.” ACOG. FAQ 95 from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Mar 2017. Web.
  • “Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.” FamilyDoctor. American Academy of Family Physicians, Feb 2014. Web.
  • “Vaginal Bleeding.” MedlinePlus. US National Library of Medicine, Dec 2016. Web.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Bleeding during pregnancy.” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Feb 2017. Web.

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