Any spotting or bleeding during pregnancy can be scary, but in many cases it does not signify a serious problem. This is especially true if the spotting is brown in color and if it occurs during the first trimester. In fact, spotting is relatively common during the first trimester, according to PregnancyToday. It is, however, important to contact your doctor whenever you have an onset of any kind of spotting during your pregnancy.
Blood that is brown in color is old blood, according to Pregnancy Today. This is a good sign for women concerned about a miscarriage or other problems in the pregnancy. Serious problems are usually indicated by bright-red bleeding. Pregnant women who experience brown spotting accompanied by other symptoms such as clotting, a fever or brown spotting that turns to bright red should see a doctor as soon as possible.
Brown spotting occurs most frequently during the first trimester. In fact, it can even occur before you know you are pregnant. Implantation bleeding, when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining, is a common cause of brown spotting and usually occurs before a women even takes a pregnancy test. Brown spotting during the second trimester is not nearly as common. Brown spotting during the third trimester is a little more common, because it often signifies the loss of the mucus plug and the start of labor.
Brown spotting during the first trimester can be caused by a swollen or fragile cervix, which can bleed slightly during intercourse or after a pap smear. This is because blood flow to the cervix is increased during pregnancy, according to BabyCenter. Yeast infections, urinary tract infections and hemorrhoid can cause brown spotting to occur at any time during a pregnancy. It can also signify the start of a miscarriage. Later in the pregnancy, placenta previa, in which the placenta covers the cervix, and placental abruption, in which the placenta tears away from the wall of the uterus, can cause brown spotting, but the bleeding in these cases is usually bright red.
In most cases, brown spotting cannot be prevented. This is especially true in the case of a miscarriage, according to the American Pregnancy Association. If the bleeding is caused by irritation to the cervix, your doctor might recommend avoiding intercourse for a short while. In more serious cases, brown spotting might indicate a need for bed rest, but even this may not stop the bleeding.
Brown spotting during the first trimester can indicate an ectopic pregnancy, in which the egg implants into the fallopian tube instead of the uterus. This is a serious complication that necessitates immediate medical care. For this reason, all women who experience any brown spotting early in their pregnancy should see a doctor as soon as possible.