For any woman, spotting during pregnancy can be a very frightening thing. In early pregnancy, it is a common thing, with about 3 in 10 women experiencing it at some point in their first trimester.

Although it can indicate a problem, typically there is another cause for the bleeding. Let me start off by saying that all spotting or bleeding should be mentioned to your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

If bleeding is heavy or has clots, you should go to an emergency room and be examined, just to be safe.

The most common cause of spotting or bleeding in the first trimester is due to the cervix becoming more sensitive. Not only is it sensitive, but there is an increased blood flow, so if it becomes irritated, it may bleed more than usual.

Common irritants are pap smears, sexual intercourse, or progesterone suppositories. You may want to limit sexual activity during the first trimester if it is particularly worrisome, or just be more gentle.

Another common cause of spotting during early pregnancy is placenta previa. This means that the placenta is attached to the uterus over or near the cervix.

Many times this will correct itself, but may require staying off your feet or bedrest. This is something that only your healthcare provider can diagnose via ultrasound.

Other more serious reasons for spotting are an impending miscarriage or a molar pregnancy. A miscarriage will typically be accompanied by heavy cramping as well as tissue or blood clots being passed.

A molar pregnancy will usually be accompanied by extreme nausea and vomiting. Spotting or bleeding later in pregnancy is often more serious, unless it's caused by an irritated cervix.

Watch for warning signs, including vaginal pressure, contractions, clear fluid leaking from the vagina, dull backache, period-like cramps, or abdominal cramps.

Although spotting during pregnancy is quite common, its origins should always be examined. Call your healthcare provider or local hospital to get advice as to what to do and rest and relax until you can be examined.