Pregnancy Discharge: A Quick Guide
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As soon as you became pregnant, you probably became very in tune with every tiny twinge in your body. And one new sensation you may have picked up on is a lot more moisture below the belt. After all, one common early sign of pregnancy is an increase in vaginal discharge! So what’s considered “normal vaginal discharge”? We at Happiest Baby are of the mindset that there’s no such thing as TMI when it come to talking pregnancy health. That’s why we’re ready to dive into the pregnancy discharge discourse with you—no squeamishness necessary! Here’s what you need to know about pregnancy discharge.
What does pregnancy discharge look like?
Known as leukorrhea, normal pregnancy discharge is thin, clear or milky-white, mild-smelling or odorless and non-irritating that may look yellow when it dries in your underwear. Leukorrhea is made up of mostly water and also contains microrganisms. It’s similar to the discharge you may experience between periods when you’re not pregnant, but it’s usually heavier and tends to pick up speed in later months.
What causes discharge during pregnancy?
Pregnancy hormones, a boost in blood flow to the vaginal walls, and changes to your cervix all lead to an uptick in discharge during pregnancy. The good news is that vaginal discharge is actually protecting your baby by flushing out dead cells and bacteria, which keeps your birth canal healthy.
Is pregnancy discharge normal?
Like morning sickness and swollen feet, leukorrhea is a normal but sometimes aggravating part of pregnancy. It might be a good idea to keep pantyliners or a change of underwear on hand to manage any discomfort.
When should I worry about early pregnancy discharge?
Pregnancy discharge is totally normal…except when it’s not. Unusual odors and colors can be a sign of a problem. In fact, pregnancy can make folks more susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections down there because hormonal changes can disrupt the balance of yeast and bacteria in the vagina.
Yeast infections are very common during pregnancy. While not dangerous, they can drive you up the wall (the itching!). The good news is there are safe ways to treat yeast infections during pregnancy (miconazole and clotrimazole both get the greenlight for use during pregnancy), but note that the oral medication fluconazole has been linked to birth defects.
Other possible culprits behind discharge with a strong odor or unusual color include bacterial vaginosis or a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Call your doctor if you experience any of the following changes to your pregnancy discharge—an untreated infection can lead to complications for you or Baby:
- Thick and clumpy discharge
- Greenish or grayish discharge
- An unpleasant, yeasty, or fishy smell
- Itching and swelling of the vulva
- Burning during urination
- Pain during sex
Is pink discharge during pregnancy normal?
Pinkish brown discharge is sometimes normal, particularly during early pregnancy (it can be caused by implantation bleeding—when your embryo implants, it can disrupt blood vessels in the lining of your uterus) and late pregnancy (changes to the cervix, but you should still mention it to your doctor. Call your practitioner immediately if you see bright red spotting.
Pregnancy Discharge Dos and Don’ts:
It’s not necessary to do anything to manage normal vaginal discharge, but if its making you physically uncomfortable, there are safe ways to control the wetness, plus a few behaviors to avoid:
- DO wear a panty-liner to protect your underwear.
- DO wear cotton underwear and loose breathable clothing to prevent yeast infections.
- DO dry your vulva gently but thoroughly after showering.
- DO always wipe front to back to avoid introducing bacteria into your vagina.
- DO use unscented soaps and other personal care products.
- DO talk to your practitioner about any concerns you have.
- DON’T douche, which is discouraged by doctors, is not safe for pregnancy (in fact, it’s been linked to an increased risk of preterm birth) and can upset the natural balance of healthy bacteria in your vagina, leading to infection.
- DON’T wear tampons, which can introduce new bacteria into the vagina.
- DON’T use over-the-counter medication or suppositories for vaginal infections without first talking to your doctor.
More on Pregnancy Health:
- A Guide to Pregnancy Weight Gain
- Your Prenatal Appointment Schedule
- Is Counting Kicks in Pregnancy Necessary?
- What to Know About Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy
- Natural Ways to Alleviate Pregnancy Heartburn
- American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists: Is It Normal to Have Vaginal Discharge?
- National Health Service: Vaginal Discharge in Pregnancy
- American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists: Vulvovaginal Health
- Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy and Associated Adverse Maternal and Perinatal Outcomes, Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences, June 2021
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health: Vaginal Yeast Infections
- Medline Plus: Common Symptoms During Pregnancy
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: STDs During Pregnancy
- Vaginal Yeast Infections During Pregnancy, Canadian Family Physician, March 2009
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health: Douching
- American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists: Is It Safe to Douche During Pregnancy?
- Vaginal Douching and Risk of Preterm Birth Among African American Women, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, February 2007
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.