Experiencing bleeding at any point during pregnancy can be scary. But keep in mind: There are times when finding discharge that resembles blood is a normal part of pregnancy.

But what about pinkish-brown discharge? Is this dangerous for you or your baby-to-be?

Here are six possible reasons you might be experiencing pinkish-brown discharge during pregnancy.

Implantation bleeding

If you’re very early on in your pregnancy and actively looking for symptoms, you may notice some light spotting around week 4. This can be implantation bleeding, or the bleeding that occurs when the fertilized embryo burrows into the highly vascular lining of your uterus.

Cervical irritation

During pregnancy, your cervix (the bottom of your uterus and the part that opens and stretches during labor) is highly vascular. This means it has a lot of blood vessels, so it can bleed easily.

If your cervix is irritated during pregnancy, it may cause some brownish-pink discharge. This can happen at any point during your pregnancy. It may be caused by sex, a cervical check by your doctor, or an infection.

Ectopic pregnancy

In rare cases, brownish-pink discharge can be caused by an ectopic pregnancy. This is when a pregnancy occurs outside of the uterus, most commonly in the fallopian tube.

The brownish color occurs because the bleeding is older blood, not bright red (new) blood. An ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening emergency.

Go to the emergency room if you notice any bleeding along with any symptoms, including:

Miscarriage

Any bleeding during pregnancy can be an early sign of miscarriage. In general, bleeding that results in a miscarriage is also accompanied by other symptoms. So if you notice brownish-pink discharge, be on the lookout for other symptoms, including:

Unknown reasons

Many times, there’s no obvious reason for bleeding during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. One study found that as many as one-fourth of women reported some kind of bleeding during the first few months of their pregnancies. Although researchers speculated that the bleeding was an early sign of the placenta not developing properly, they aren't sure of all of the reasons bleeding can happen. Call your doctor if you experience other symptoms, or if you’re concerned.

Mucus plug

You may be losing your mucus plug if you’re further along in your pregnancy, (anywhere from 36 to 40 weeks) and notice an increase in discharge that is brownish, pink, or even slightly green-tinged.

As your body gets ready to go into labor, it's normal for your cervix to soften and release the mucus plug. This plug helped to protect any bacteria from getting into your uterus. The mucus plug can look like, well, mucous. But it may also be tinged with brown-colored discharge when it dislodges. You may notice the mucus plug come out all at once. Or it may dislodge in smaller, less noticeable "chunks" over the course of a few days or weeks.

If you notice a small amount of pinkish-brown discharge during your pregnancy, don't panic. In most cases, a small amount of blood-tinged discharge is normal. Ask yourself if there could be any possible reason for the discharge. Were you checked by your doctor recently? Did you have sex in the last 24 hours? Are you nearing the end of your pregnancy and might be losing your mucus plug?

If the discharge increases, or you experience any bleeding with other symptoms, call your doctor or head to the hospital.

Q:

When should you call your doctor if you’re bleeding during pregnancy?

A:

Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester, is common. But you should always call your doctor if you notice bleeding because the cause could potentially be serious. You’ll want to make note of how much you’re bleeding and whether or not it’s painful. Your doctor may want to evaluate you in person and determine whether you need further testing. You should head straight to the emergency room if you’re seeing a significant amount of blood (passing clots or soaking through your clothes). 

University of Illinois-Chicago, College of MedicineAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
Chaunie Brusie