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Implantation Bleeding

Any blood in pregnancy can be alarming and should always be discussed with your GP or care provider. However, very light spotting can occur early in your pregnancy (roughly when your period is due) and in most cases, this will be implantation bleeding.

Implantation bleeding is a small amount of light spotting (pink-brown in colour and spots as opposed to the flow of a period) that occurs roughly 5 to 10 days after ovulation. Generally speaking it will only last for one to three days. Remarkably, it’s thought to happen when the fertilised egg attaches/implants to the lining of the uterus.

It’s around this time that you may consider doing a pregnancy test. The test is designed to detect the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (or hCG) in your urine. But your body only starts producing this hormone the moment that the fertilised egg implants in the uterus (this is the trigger for implantation bleeding). So yes, it’s best to wait a few days before your period to test. That said, there are many early detection tests available and they may accurately detect your pregnancy as early as five days before your period is due.

Your body may also give you other signs that implantation has been successful although they aren’t a definitive sign that you have conceived. They include:

  • cramping. They are very mild and only last for a short period of time (and they’re not always a symptom of implantation) but some women who are trying to conceive report mild cramping around the time of implantation.

  • sore breasts. Implantation and PMS can both prompt sore, sensitive breasts. The main difference is that PMS symptoms only last a few days whereas implantation breast sensitivity can continue well into your pregnancy. If you are pregnant you may also start to notice a fullness to your breasts and a subtle darkening of the areola.

  • frequent urination. An increase in hCg and the hormone progesterone can impact the frequency of your toilet trips. Plus your body is creating amniotic fluid, the water that surrounds your baby in the amniotic sac, so you’ll commonly notice a need to drink more. It’s good to keep in mind that even from early pregnancy, your body requires at least 2L of water a day. If you find drinking water a challenge, I highly recommend investing in a stainless steel drink bottle with in-built straw. It makes drinking easier, it’s great for taking regular sips (ideal if you have first trimester nausea) and it’s an absolute must-have during labour and postpartum. Consider it a good investment.

When you are doing a home pregnancy test, it’s always recommended to pee on the stick first thing in the morning. This is when your urine is most concentrated and the test is more likely to pick up the presence of hCG. If you get a faint positive line on your test, you may want to try again the following day (and the day after that) as you can expect the line to get darker as time progresses (and the levels of hCG in your urine increase). Generally speaking, you can get a false-negative on home pregnancy tests but you can’t get a false-positive.

If you have conceived with fertility assistance, you can expect your fertility clinic to call you with the results of your blood test. I’ve interviewed countless women on the podcast who have conceived via IUI or IVF and I’m not exaggerating when I say that the majority of women do home pregnancy tests before they get a call from the clinic (even though it’s commonly advised not to).

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