Untimely bleeding is frustrating, especially when you are planning for pregnancy. But do not get disappointed as this bleeding could indicate something good for you. It could be implantation bleeding, a normal physiological process in any pregnancy, and one of the early symptoms of pregnancy. Read this MomJunction post to know more about implantation, its stages, symptoms and how you can confirm that.
What Is Implantation?
Implantation (of the human embryo) is the attachment of the fertilized egg (the blastocyst) to the lining of the uterus to grow and develop. It is an entirely natural process that happens a week after ovulation and is an early stage of pregnancy.
One-third of women experience implantation bleeding but is mistaken for menstruation as it happens at the same time of your cycle.
When Does Implantation Occur?
In most cases, implantation takes place around nine days after ovulation, but sometimes it can occur as early as seven days or as late as 12 days. So, if ovulation takes place on the 14th day after a period (average 28-day cycle), implantation can occur on the 23rd day.
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During ovulation, the ovaries release the eggs. When the sperm enters the fallopian tube, it fertilizes the egg within 12 to 24 hours of ovulation. The fertilized egg, known as a zygote, then travels down the fallopian tube. During this time, the zygote multiplies several times to form a blastocyst, which enters the uterine cavity in five to six days after fertilization. It then implants to the uterus in a day or two. Therefore, the whole process from fertilization to implantation takes six to ten days. This means implantation occurs between the 20th and 24thday of your regular menstrual cycle.
Stages Of Implantation:
The embryo implantation occurs on the sixth or seventh day after ovulation. This process has three stages:
- In the first stage, the embryo attaches to the uterine wall (the lining is endometrium). This initial phase of the implantation process is called adplantation. During this stage, the embryo is about five to six days old .
- In the second stage, the fertilized egg penetrates the uterine wall so that it is secure in the uterus. This process is adhesion of the blastocyst to the endometrium.
- In the third stage, the embryo finally embeds deep inside the uterine wall. At this point, the ovum is located in the endometrial cavity, and as the endometrium grows, the cavity is wrapped better.
Common Signs And Symptoms Of Pregnancy Implantation:
Every pregnancy is different, and so are the implantation symptoms. They may also differ from the first pregnancy to the subsequent ones. Some women do not notice any symptoms associated with implantation. Listed below are the possible implantation signs that would help in confirming your pregnancy.
1. Implantation bleeding or spotting:
It is one of the primary symptoms of implantation, and probably an accurate sign of gestation. This happens when the embryo embeds into the uterine wall. So, if you notice light bleeding or spotting before the onset of your period, you do not have to worry.
But what does implantation bleeding look like? It is pinkish, scanty and not as red and heavy as the period bleeding. It is not consistent and does not form clots. The bleeding may be on and off and lasts from a few hours to two days.
2. Implantation cramping:
The second common symptom after spotting is implantation cramping, which is similar to period cramping. However, these cramps are milder and are less painful. So, where does implantation cramping occur? You will experience them in your back and lower abdomen and last for a couple of days. They are sometimes associated with continuous contractions in the uterine wall. If the cramping is severe and unbearable for a long time, it is advisable to see your healthcare provider.
3. Breast changes:
Soon after implantation, your body begins to change. Breasts undergo changes such as tenderness, soreness, and swelling. It is due to the changing female hormone levels after conception. In some cases, these changes are visible during ovulation as well as a week after ovulation.
4. Increased basal body temperature:
The basal body temperature (BBT) is high during implantation and can be a way to determine pregnancy. You may not necessarily track your body temperature unless you are trying to get pregnant. Therefore, you must chart your daily temperature, and see if it is increasing. The BBT rises at the time of ovulation due to increasing progesterone hormone and remains elevated when implantation occurs.
5. Frequent urination:
The urge to urinate increases within a week of implantation. Your body undergoes massive changes to make room for the baby. Increased blood supply to the pelvic area puts pressure on your bladder. This pressure increases your urge to urinate.
6. Food cravings/aversion:
This is another prominent sign of implantation. The hormones produced as a result of implantation tend to alter the woman’s likes and dislikes for food. You may crave for foods you have not tasted before or dislike foods you once loved. However, any cravings or aversions for food within seven days of ovulation cannot be considered an implantation symptom.
7. Hot flashes:
They are less common signs of implantation and last for about 15 minutes at the time of implantation. During implantation, the hormone levels rapidly fluctuate causing hot flashes. Though it is an inconsistent sign, you may still consider it in association with the other symptoms.
8. Cervical mucus:
An increase in the progesterone levels after implantation triggers the cervix to swell and increases the blood flow to it. Additionally, the glands enlarge and the hormones stimulate the glands to produce more cervical mucus. The mucus thus contains some blood, which is why cervical mucus after implantation looks pinkish or brownish in color.
While the above signs could determine your pregnancy, you cannot be sure until you take a test. Moreover, remember that not every woman has these signs.
How To Confirm If Your Implantation Is Successful?
The only way to confirm your pregnancy is through a pregnancy test. If you notice any spotting, i.e., implantation bleeding, wait for about three days and take a home pregnancy test. The later you take the test, the more are the chances of getting an accurate result as your hCG levels increase.
Another way of confirming implantation is going for a sonogram to know if the embryo is attached to the uterine wall. After three to four weeks of implantation, you can see the fetus in the uterus. However, sonogram could have an adverse effect on the sensitive process of implantation and fetal development.
Experiencing signs, but got a negative test result?
You may be having the signs of a successful implantation, but may end up with negative test results. This may be because of insufficient hCG hormone. In some cases, it will take up to ten days post implantation to have enough hCG in the body to give positive results. Therefore, be optimistic and be patient.
How To Increase Your Chances Of Implantation?
The two weeks after a menstrual cycle are stressful if you are planning to get pregnant. The elevated stress levels prevent conception by disrupting the hormone levels. Therefore, you need to know ways to improve the chances of successful implantation.
The following are the practical ways to make your two weeks wait enjoyable:
1. Balanced diet for healthy hormonal levels and uterine lining:
- Fiber-rich foods promote healthy estrogen levels, metabolism, and digestion. Eat dark leafy greens such as collard, kale or beet greens, ground flax seeds, soaked seeds and nuts, and whole grains. Have about 28 grams of fiber every day.
- Super foods support healthy hormonal levels. Include coconut oil, cod liver oil, goji berries (Arctium lappa) and maca (Lepidium meyenii) in your diet.
- Support the healthy growth of uterine lining by taking pregnancy-safe herbs and blood nourishing foods. Consume herbs such as hibiscus, nettle, red raspberry leaf and yellow dock infusions or extracts. Blood nourishing foods include salmon, grass fed meats, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, spirulina and quinoa.
- Include foods that increase your body temperature. When progesterone levels raise the body’s temperature also raises. Therefore, a warm womb is an ideal environment to support a new life. Try taking stews and soups with some warming herbs such as cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne.
2. Generate good feelings:
You may have high expectations during the two weeks of wait for the good news. You are overwhelmed with anticipation and anxiety. This could release stress hormones which prevent your body from conceiving.
Keep your cool during this period. Dream about getting pregnant but do not make it your obsession. Keep yourself busy and take up the tasks that you love to do. This will keep your emotions under check.
3. Rethink about natural therapies, herbs and supplements you are already taking:
Certain natural therapies will affect the uterus and thus prevent implantation. Avoid practices such as castor oil packs, self-fertility massage, Maya abdominal massage and Radiant Womb therapeutic oil. All of these therapies are fine before ovulation but not at the time of implantation.
You can continue with acupuncture and herbal programs and prenatal vitamin supplements.
4. Take enough rest and nurture yourself:
While waiting for your pregnancy news, you might often observe yourself clenching your jaw, tummy or holding your shoulder high, which are all signs of stress. Try to avoid the thoughts and jobs that make you feel stressful. Have a healthy environment at home and work.
- Go to sleep early, and take naps in the day.
- If you are into running or heavy exercises, shift to brisk walking or fertility yoga.
- Nest your womb, which means make it a safe environment for inviting the baby.
- Get a massage, get around with your dear ones, plan for a calm outing.
5. Believe in yourself:
You may not get pregnant if you doubt your abilities to give birth to a baby. Change your thought pattern, and believe in yourself. Negative thoughts could alter hormonal balance, thus affecting your chances of healthy ovulation, implantation, and pregnancy.
Positive affirmations, counseling, and meditation will help you to think positive about your body and inner self. However, it is not going to happen overnight. So, be gentle while you shift to a positive approach.
Why Does Abnormal Implantation Occur?
In rare cases, some women could experience abnormal implantation that leads to pregnancy loss. Those rare circumstances include:
1. Ectopic pregnancy:
When the fertilized egg implants outside the cervix, it is called ectopic pregnancy. Usually, the implantation occurs in the fallopian tube when the embryo fails to descend to the cervix. In the process, it can, sometimes, attach to the ovary or the abdomen. This type of pregnancy has to be terminated medically, and this can lead to heavy implantation bleeding and rupture. It, therefore, reduces the chances of conception in the future.
2. Hydatidiform mole:
This occurs when the rapidly dividing blastocyst implants itself to the uterine wall but does not develop into a full-fledged embryo. Instead of an embryo, the blastocyst turns into a tumor. You may experience all the signs of pregnancy and may even get confirmed pregnancy test results due to the production of hCG by the tumor cells. Only an ultrasound can determine the presence of hydatidiform mole.
3. Problems with the placenta:
Abnormalities related to the placenta are dependent on where the implantation takes place. If the function of the placenta is adversely affected, the pregnancy will not continue. Placental problems lead to pregnancy loss, and an early loss is called a miscarriage. If placental abnormalities occur later in the pregnancy, they result in pre-term birth, causing complications for the mother and the baby.
Implantation is the first step of pregnancy. It could be so subtle that you may not even realize that it has happened inside your body. But when your urge to get pregnant is high, you tend to relate every minor change in your body to pregnancy. The key is not to get anxious for the result or disappointed if the result is negative. The next menstrual period is just around the corner!
Frequently Asked Questions:
How long does implantation bleeding last?
Implantation bleeding lasts for a few hours to two days. In rare cases, it may continue for more than two days. The length usually depends on the amount of blood that is released in the process of embryo implantation, and the time it takes for the body to get rid of it.
How long does implantation cramping last?
Implantation cramping lasts for five minutes. In some cases, the cramps will last for less than five minutes or up to two days.
What do implantation cramps feel like?
They are like a light pricking or pulling pain in the lower abdomen, and start about a week before your period is due. Some women may experience only a single episode of it, while some others will have occasional cramping.