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  • Writer's pictureJessica Lagrone

Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy: Normal or Not?


woman with positive pregnanct test

During pregnancy, women go through a bunch of physical changes to accommodate their growing little bundle of joy. One thing you might notice is more vaginal discharge, which is totally normal. But, when is it not normal? Don't worry, we've got you covered with all you need to know about changes in your vaginal discharge.


What is normal vaginal discharge during pregnancy?


Discharge changes during pregnancy are pretty normal. Your body just ramps up mucus production down there in your vagina and cervix as your estrogen hormones increase. Early on in a pregnancy, it's usually clear or kinda milky white, and it might change in thickness. The amount varies from person to person so don't worry if you feel like you're having "excessive" discharge. 


Pregnancy Discharge: What Causes Changes to Vaginal Discharge?


Increased vaginal discharge is common during early pregnancy (although it doesn't necessarily mean you're pregnant). It can also be an early sign that you're about to go into labor in the last weeks of pregnancy. However, there could be other reasons you're dealing with discharge changes. Let's cover some common causes of pregnancy discharge.


Leukorrhea: Normal Discharge


Leukorrhea, the fancy word for extra discharge during pregnancy, is totally normal and happens because your hormones are changing like crazy. Healthy vaginal discharge helps maintain a good balance of bacteria in the vagina, provides protection against infections, and prevents harmful bacteria from reaching the uterus and potentially harming the developing fetus. It also helps keep the vagina clean by flushing out old cells and bacteria. So, while it might seem a bit annoying at times, it's actually your body doing its thing to keep everything safe and healthy for you and your little one.

  • What it looks like: white or yellowish; may have a mild odor


Mucus Plug: Sign of Early Labor?

Sometimes referred to as "show" or a mucus plug, this type of discharge is basically jelly-like stuff that hangs out in your cervix, keeping bacteria and infections away from your little one. When you're getting close to your due date, you might notice it making an exit, which could mean labor is on the horizon. Totally normal stuff, just your body getting ready for childbirth. If you do see it making its grand appearance, it's a good idea to chat with your midwife or doctor to make sure everything's on track and all good to go. You just may be having a baby sooner than later!


  • What it looks like: jelly-like yellow, pink or brown tinged mucus


Yeast Infections or Vaginal Thrush


So, it is possible that all that discharge is actually a sign of a yeast infection, also known as vaginal thrush or candidiasis. It's very common and happens to the best of us. But what causes it? Basically, it happens when yeast called Candida albicans decides to throw a party down there because of things like pH levels going wonky or your immune system taking a nap. You might notice itching and burning—not fun, I know. But good news is there are treatments out there, like antifungal meds or creams, to kick that yeast to the curb and get you feeling back to normal. If you suspect you've got one, it's worth giving your doc a shout for some advice.

  • What it looks like: thick, white, like cottage cheese


When to Call the Midwife or Doctor


Now that we've covered some of the most common reasons why you're experiencing increased vaginal discharge while pregnant, how do you know when to contact your doctor? We certainly recommend reaching out to them if you notice unusual vaginal discharge, such as:


  • Change in vaginal discharge color (green or gray)

  • Blood (may look like brown discharge during pregnancy)

  • Unpleasant smell

  • Inconsistency of discharge


Your midwife or doctor can help determine the cause of these changes and provide appropriate treatment. Remember, it is always better to be safe than sorry, so don't hesitate to let your doctor know if you have any concerns about your vaginal discharge.


Tips for Managing Vaginal Discharge in Pregnancy


Vaginal discharge is common during pregnancy, so it's normal to produce more discharge as the pregnancy progresses. Here are some general tips for managing a larger amount of discharge during pregnancy:


  • Maintain good hygiene: Gently wash the vaginal area with mild, unscented soap and warm water daily. Avoid douching or using scented products, as these can disrupt the natural balance of vaginal flora and increase the risk of infection.

  • Wear breathable underwear: Opt for cotton underwear, which allows for better air circulation and helps keep the vaginal area dry. Avoid tight-fitting underwear or clothing, as they can trap moisture and affect vaginal discharge.

  • Use panty liners: If the amount of vaginal discharge increases, consider using unscented liners to absorb excess discharge. Change them regularly to maintain cleanliness and prevent irritation so you don't feel itchy.

  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps maintain hydration and can also help thin out vaginal discharge, making it less thick and uncomfortable.

  • Practice safe sex: If you're sexually active during pregnancy, use condoms to help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) which can cause abnormal vaginal discharge.

  • Watch for changes: Pay attention to any changes in odor, color, or texture of your vaginal discharge. Contact your doctor if symptoms don't seem normal during pregnancy.

  • Avoid harsh chemicals: Avoid using harsh soaps, scented wipes, or perfumed products in the vaginal area, as they can disrupt the balance of bacteria (pH balance) and increase the risk of irritation or infection.

  • Regular prenatal visits: Attend your prenatal appointments regularly, and don't hesitate to discuss any concerns or questions about your body during pregnancy with your healthcare provider. 

Remember, every woman's experience with vaginal discharge during pregnancy is unique and can be different from person to person. Trust your instincts, and don't hesitate to call your doctor if you're unsure or concerned about any changes you're experiencing.


Conclusion


So there you have it! It's normal to have more vaginal discharge while pregnant as it plays a crucial role in keeping things healthy for you and your little one. It's usually thin, clear or milky white, and doesn't have a strong odor. And hey, even if you notice a bit more of it, no need to stress—that's often just your body doing its thing. But remember, if you spot any changes in color, texture, or smell, it's always a good idea to touch base with your healthcare provider. Keep an eye on your vaginal health, stay informed, and enjoy this exciting journey into motherhood!

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