Almost 6 weeks pregnant and spotting
August 2, 2018 8:40 AM   Subscribe

I am newly pregnant with my first pregnancy, at 5 weeks 6 days and I have no idea what I'm doing! The internet tells me that spotting is pretty normal in the first trimester, but it is still causing me enormous anxiety... has this happened to you? What did you do about it?

Last week, I had a little brown spotting. I called my reproductive endocrinologist (we got pregnant using IUI) and they basically said not to worry- brown blood is old blood. If I wasn't bleeding red and cramping, I should be fine. So I calmed down.

Monday, I had a transvaginal ultrasound to confirm placement in my uterus and a blood test to ensure that my HCG levels were still increasing as they should. Everything looked good!

However. I had an episode of pink spotting Tuesday night when I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I was mostly back to normal Wednesday morning- perhaps a slight brown tinge when I used the bathroom? Not enough to even get on my underwear. I was, however, having much more cramping throughout the day on Wednesday than I had in the past week or so (When I first found out I was pregnant, 13 days past the IUI I had a lot of mild cramping for several days). Not very painful....just there, and happening a lot. Today I am back to dark brown spotting at certain points in the day, again, not enough to need a pad or again get on my underwear, but enough to make me anxious. I have the feeling that had I not gotten up in the middle of the night on Tuesday, by the time I used the bathroom in the morning, any pink spotting would have been brown instead and would have saved me a lot of worry. (Brown is still anxiety producing, but much less than pink!)

My guesses as to potential causes:

1) Perhaps my cervix was still irritated from the trans-vaginal ultrasound from the day before, on monday? After the exam there was a little pink spotting, but not much at all.
2) I went for a moderate bike ride Tuesday evening- perhaps the exertion did something?
3) Pregnant bodies are weird and this is just a random thing that happens sometimes, the additional cramping is either a coincidence or a result of stress from freaking out over the spotting.

So, my questions for you:

1) Did you have spotting in your pregnancy? If you did, how much and for how long?
2) Did it freak you out? What did you do to manage your anxiety?
3) Did your doctor/midwife/friend recommend you take any steps to help prevent said spotting? (Somebody on the internet suggested Magnesium, which I am trying today, along with trying to take it very easy on the couch)
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have had two miscarriages and I am a pretty anxious person. Surprisingly, I was less anxious during the second prengnacy than the first, because I knew that it was completely out of my hands. The life of this little baby is all up to chance or God or fate or whatever you believe in. Worrying won't keep the embryo implanted, and there's really nothing else you can do. Try to celebrate the fact that you are pregnant right now, no matter what happens in the coming weeks.

I did have pink spotting due to cervical irritation (so after sex, basically) which the doctor said was normal, but when I started to miscarry and there was more than spotting, the doctor said that beyond spotting, bleeding can also happen during a healthy pregnancy. If I'm not mistaken your RE will continue to monitor your hCG until you "graduate" at 8 weeks, so all you can really do is wait.
posted by muddgirl at 9:04 AM on August 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

What muddgirl said. You are so early on, there's nothing you can really do but wait and see if this one is successful. It might help to remember that the beginning of pregnancy is about the embryo embedding itself, starting the process of growing placenta and umbilical, and lots of general hormone weirdness. Spotting is really really normal. If you're not having a heavy flow, it's too soon to worry.
posted by emjaybee at 9:18 AM on August 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Totally agree with the above. Bright red bleeding warrants a call to the doctor, but even that doesn't seem entirely uncommon based on my conversations with other moms. Cramping is super normal in the first trimester, especially in your first pregnancy. I know you didn't specifically ask about this, but you may want to avoid magnesium unless your doctor actually recommends it for something. I took a magnesium supplement briefly towards the end of my second pregnancy (hoping it would help with my foot cramps) and it caused some serious GI issues - including intestinal cramping so intense I thought I might be in labor. I guess I could have done some more reading on my own, but I wish the nurse practitioner who recommended it had warned me that GI issues are a common side-effect of magnesium.
posted by lomes at 9:33 AM on August 2, 2018

Oh yeah, speaking of cramping, raspberry tea made me super uncomfortable/crampy (which is why some recommend it to help start labor but ow) so if you are consuming something with raspberry, you might lay off of it.
posted by emjaybee at 9:40 AM on August 2, 2018

Cramping is absolutely normal in early pregnancy, so is spotting, cramping and spotting maybe less so. Both exercise AND a transvaginal ultrasound can cause a bleed, your cervix is really incredibly sensitive during pregnancy. I had copious spotting (soaked through underwear and pants all at once) at 12 weeks - a couple of days after my NT scan, so I wasn't as terrified as I could have been, but definitely went right in to see the doc - and it was because I spent the afternoon cleaning pots out of my greenhouse.

However. The only thing that made the anxiety abate was seeing the doctor to confirm the pregnancy was still viable. I also had brown spotting for a couple of days when I wiped at 7 or so weeks and they had me come in for a scan. Each practice will be more or less proactive about this, but I was only comfortable with being seen by OBs who cared about my anxiety as much as they cared about the physical status of my pregnancy. I never called in a panic, but I did call wanting to be reassured.

Also, you can rest easy (for various definitions of rest easy) that nothing you do or don't do will determine the outcome of a pregnancy at this stage.
posted by lydhre at 10:51 AM on August 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Spotting is really normal, but also every trans-vaginal ultrasound I've had has come with a warning from the doctors and the ultrasound tech that spotting afterwards is to be expected. It's likely from the ultrasound, but as far as the anxiety goes, there is literally nothing you can do to change what will happen here. On the one hand, that's very stressful, and I understand that. If you can embrace that idea, though, it can also be freeing. Nothing you can do will control the outcome here, so give yourself the freedom to let go. You'll see a lot of women using "Today, I am pregnant" as a mantra, and for good reason. That's the one thing you know. Everything else is out of your control, and all the worrying in the world won't change that (for good or bad. Don't let someone suggest that stress is the culprit, or that if you would just calm down, it'll all be fine. It works both ways!).

But today, right now, you are pregnant. Try to enjoy that.
posted by terilou at 10:51 AM on August 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

I've had 2 pregnancies, with near-continuous spotting throughout the first trimester in both of them, including occasional pieces of tissue. I had 2 healthy kids.

It caused me enormous anxiety, and I basically just tried to hold on and breathe deep. The doctors didn't do anything except HCG measurements and an early ultrasound around 8 weeks, which doesn't change the outcome in any way, it just lets you know you're still pregnant. Doing those things reduced my anxiety transiently, but didn't make it go away. The only thing that really made it go away was making to the "magic" and arbitrary milestone of making it to the second trimester, during which miscarriages are much less common.

One zen kind of thing you can tell yourself is that if the pregnancy doesn't last, it's almost certainly unrelated to anything you did or didn't do. It's genetics, pure and simple. Sometimes the DNA gets scrambled and the embryo is non viable. It's not because you exercised or didn't exercise or sacrificed the wrong color goat.

Whatever helps you destress, do that. If that's tea, or dumb tv, or sitting with your feet up; or exercise or whatever, fine. Basically the only way out is through.

Hang in there, and much sympathy. Here's hoping that 6 weeks from now this is a distant memory.
posted by telepanda at 12:13 PM on August 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

My aunt spotted enough during her pregnancy that she mistook it for a light period and didn't realize she was pregnant.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:26 PM on August 2, 2018

I am 16 weeks pregnant and have been spotting brown blood on and off since week 6. If you are constipated in any way, check with your doctor for stool softeners. In my case constipation aggravated a sensitive cervix which resulted in spotting even if I wasn't straining.

I also second everyone above who is telling you that this is out of your control. It is so hard to not worry over spotting, especially if you're a nervous wreck already, like me. But tell yourself that you are doing all you can for this pregnancy and whether or not it continues is out of your hands. Good luck!
posted by cobain_angel at 12:37 PM on August 2, 2018

Relax relax relax.

Fwiw, 5-6 weeks along is really early and while it is good to be aware of what your body is doing, you are still in the very early stages. Like a doctor's visit won't even happen for a bit. Spotting is normal. Keeping calm is key.

Also, get thee to reddit! That's where the pregnancy world lives now. Metafilter is great but the wealth of information and support for this on reddit is unparalleled. There will be a specific subreddit for people on the same approximate time as you and comparing notes can be really helpful. Start with babybumps and then find your due date month group.
posted by k8t at 1:04 PM on August 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

I had spotting throughout my first trimester, some of it red blood. I thought for sure I was miscarrying but had a healthy pregnancy and have an amazing baby now. In my case, I had a “friable cervix” meaning just that any sort of jostling (vaginal exams, sex, even too much walking around) would cause bleeding. I took it easy on the couch, mostly to help with my own anxiety (and because I was exhausted in my first trimester). Eventually my midwife cauterized the friable part of my cervix which I think also was just so it would stop bleeding and I’d stop worrying. My sense now, though I could be wrong, is that the type of bleeding I had wasn’t indicative of any problem and I could have just ignored it, but I’m not sure that was clear (to me) at the time and resting helped slow the spotting which made me feel like I was doing something productive.

I’m not sure bleeding/spotting is “normal” but it still not uncommon either, and not always an indication of an issue. Seconding finding your due date month group on Reddit babybumps - my baby was born last November and a bunch of us still chat and support each other daily. It’s amazing to have folks who are going through the same thing at the same time.

Good luck, congratulations (if you want them), and just do as much self-care as possible right now. Silly iPhone games and TV comedies and calming cups of tea. Hang in there. I’d say it gets easier, but it doesn’t - there’s always something new to worry about if you’re the anxious type of parent, which I am - but it does get so much better and more fun once you get the first ultrasound/start feeling kicks/get to meet your baby/etc. with each new milestone.
posted by bananacabana at 4:54 PM on August 2, 2018

More anecdata: I spotted for 4-5 months when pregnant with my first, who recently turned 29 years old. I also very clearly remember the stress/fear of losing the pregnancy (I was 34 and this was my first pregnancy ever). Unfortunately, there was no internet/Metafilter back in the day because I think I would have found some comfort in hearing "so did I" from multiple women, rather than just my doc.

(Best wishes.)
posted by she's not there at 9:00 PM on August 2, 2018

i also had spotting in early pregnancy and also a little cramping here and there. it eventually went away and nthing everyone saying that it's pretty normal. i called the nurse hotline multiple times during the first trimester because i was an anxious mess and they often reminded me that i shouldn't worry unless i had heavy bleeding (enough to fill a pad in a short amount of time) AND cramping together. I also have to second the suggestion of going to reddit and finding your due date month group. my baby is 3.5 months and my due date month group on reddit is more active now than it ever was, and it's pretty awesome to have a huge group of families all over the globe who are going through the same things with their babies.
posted by ruhroh at 9:39 PM on August 2, 2018

Somebody on the internet suggested Magnesium, which I am trying today, along with trying to take it very easy on the couch.

Please do not start taking supplements based on what internet strangers say.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:53 AM on August 3, 2018

From an anonymous commenter:
Spotting? Try full blown gushing blood, to the point where I plopped what felt like a waterfall of blood into the toilet, and was absolutely certain the baby was gone and got my husband to rush me to the hospital in the dead of night. The doctor on duty did a scan, said the baby was doing fine and gave me Utrogestan (progesterone) and sent me home.

The bleeding went on all through the first half of my pregnancy, and miraculously didn't seem to have had any effects other than making me feel really lightheaded. My obgyn couldn't figure out where all the blood was coming from. So I just rode it out, amd thankfully the progesterone stopped the bleeding. But I didn't dare stop the progesterone, and so I took it all the way till a week before the due date... haha.

Anyway my 18-month-old can now walk and talk and is now sleeping soundly on the bed next to me.

So bleeding during a pregnancy may or may not be a miscarriage. It may or may not be serious, but you can't really do anything about it either way, so just see your doctor if you're really worried, and otherwise ride it out. Pregnant bodies do really weird things.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:53 AM on August 3, 2018

Yeah this is late and I hope you're doing well. But when I was in my first trimester my doctor and nurses told me you're supposed to seek medical assistance with literally one pad soaked every couple of hours type of bleeding. They pretty much told me not to waste their time with spotting concerns.
posted by Tarumba at 10:56 AM on August 7, 2018

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