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Q&A: What does spotting mean at 9 weeks pregnant?

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Spotting, sometimes called staining, is when a small amount of blood comes out of the vagina, similar to the last day of a menstrual period. About one in four pregnant women has some bleeding in the first trimester, and many (but not all) go on to have a normal pregnancy. The lighter the bleeding, the less likely it is to be a sign of what we all fear—impending miscarriage. That said, any bleeding from the uterus in the first trimester is technically referred to as a threatened miscarriage.

About one in eight pregnancies end in miscarriage, slightly less in younger moms, and more than that in older moms. Once there is a sign like spotting, the destiny of the pregnancy is already determined, even if we don’t know what it is. There isn’t anything you or your care provider can do to change the outcome. Call your doctor or midwife immediately if you develop heavy bleeding, pain, or fever, as those can be signs that medical attention is necessary for impending miscarriage, infection, or another complication like tubal pregnancy.

Some steps will still be recommended. To prevent infection, most will advise avoiding introducing germs into your vagina (no douching, tampon use, or sex) until the bleeding stops. Ultrasound can often determine whether the pregnancy is viable, so that is usually the next step in the evaluation of bleeding. Hopefully that will yield good news.

Be sure to let your doctor or midwife know about the bleeding. Good luck!

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