Spotting is light bleeding from the vagina during pregnancy. It is much lighter than a menstrual period and ranges from red to brown in colour.
While it is not entirely normal to experience bleeding in pregnancy, spotting is not particularly unusual. Around 15 to 25 per cent of women are believed to experience spotting within the first trimester (the first three months).
In most cases, spotting is harmless and is just one of the mysteries of pregnancy. Equally, it can also be caused by a variety of minor issues, such as the surface of the cervix becoming more fragile as a result of the pregnancy hormones. This fragility may cause spotting, but is not a cause for concern.
However, spotting can also be a sign of a major issue, such as impending miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or an infection of the uterus. For his reason, if you start to experience spotting, you should always contact your midwife or doctor for advice.
In late pregnancy, bleeding can be a sign of a problem with the placenta. Potential issues include placenta previa, where the placenta is too low down in the uterus; and placental abruption, where the placenta comes away from the wall of the uterus. For this reason, any bleeding must be investigated as quickly as possible.