Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy: What’s Normal, and What’s Not
It’s natural to be anxious about vaginal discharge during pregnancy, especially if this is your first child. It can be tough to figure out what’s perfectly normal, and what might be a sign that something is going wrong. The good news is that many instances of discharge are entirely benign, and there are specific signs that indicate you may need to see a doctor about your discharge. Here are the key facts you need to know.
All women experience discharge
Whether pregnant or not, all women have at least some vaginal discharge. This first appears just before puberty, and then gradually declines over the course of the menopause. Discharge changes during the four weeks of your menstrual cycle, so many women are familiar with their particular pattern (e.g. some report heavier discharge just before a period).
It is normal to have discharge during pregnancy
It’s important to note that you’ll typically have more vaginal discharge during pregnancy. This is because cervical and vaginal tissue is softening, and increased discharge helps to reduce the risk of infections reaching the uterus.
Discharge changes in late pregnancy
When you’re in your third trimester and approaching labor, you’ll likely notice even more discharge–sometimes, the amount will be so significant that you may confuse it with urine. In the final week of your pregnancy, it’s also normal to see thick mucus in your discharge, and sometimes streaks of blood (sometimes called a “show”). This discharge comes from your cervix, and indicates that your body is gearing up for labor.
Some discharge needs medical attention
The normal, healthy discharge described above should be white or clear, and it should smell neutral. If your discharge changes color, or it smells different, contact your doctor or midwife and explain your concerns. In addition, remember that itchiness or soreness around the vagina can indicate a change in discharge, even if you haven’t noticed visual changes. In most cases, these symptoms suggest a vaginal infection.
Thrush is the most common infection during pregnancy
Thrush is a yeast infection, and many pregnant women experience at least one episode. You may already have had thrush earlier in life, making the signs easier to spot. However, you should always receive an official diagnosis instead of simply assuming you have thrush, and you should never decide on a course of treatment by yourself. Some thrush treatments are dangerous during pregnancy.
Bleeding and leaking should always be reported
You should always report bleeding during pregnancy, whether the blood comes by itself or is mixed in with discharge. Plenty of pregnant women bleed at least a little during pregnancy, it can sometimes be a sign of miscarriage or problems with the placenta. Finally, it’s also wise to look for signs of an amniotic fluid leak, which tends to appear in a small gush and can be clear, pink, yellow or brown. This requires immediate medical attention.
Do you have further tips for identifying and understanding discharge changes during pregnancy? Share your thoughts and advice below!