Are you having an extra vaginal discharge? Vaginal discharge occurs during normal times. But during pregnancy, it can be heightened and over time, it can change in consistency, amount, and thickness.
This is why if you are pregnant or not sure that you are, an increase in vaginal discharge might be an indication of pregnancy.
When it comes to vaginal discharge, you may be wondering what’s normal and not. Let’s take a look at what causes vaginal discharge and when you should seek medical attention.
What Causes Vaginal Discharge?
Vaginal discharge is also known as leukorrhea and it is the thin, milky-white fluid from your vagina. It usually has a mild smell but sometimes it can also be odorless. It happens in early pregnancy and usually increases with the progress of your pregnancy.
During pregnancy your estrogen levels are high and this is accompanied by the flow of blood to your pelvic region. Due to the extra blood flow, your mucous membranes are stimulated, thus leading to increased vaginal discharge.
The body has a natural tendency to increase leukorrhea during pregnancy for an important reason. Vaginal discharge helps to remove dead cells from the vaginal area, thus helping the vagina to maintain a proper balance of bacteria.
With the progress in your pregnancy, changes occur in your cervix as well. With the softening of the vaginal wall and cervix, your body will produce more discharge to prevent infections. Towards the end of your pregnancy, with more pressure on your cervix because of the pressure of your baby’s head, your vaginal discharge may increase.
Towards the end of pregnancy when your body is preparing for labor, your cervix may release the mucus plug, which is a clump of mucus that has been protecting your cervix throughout the months of your pregnancy. Often along with the mucus plug, many moms experience a darker, bloody discharge. This is known as the “bloody show”. This is an indicator that labor is imminent even though it could still be a few days or weeks away.
Tips for Dealing with Vaginal Discharge during Pregnancy
Here are some tips to keep in mind when dealing with vaginal discharge during pregnancy.
- Keep clean and dry - Bathing regularly and keeping clean helps prevent the growth of bacteria. Consider using underclothes with cotton liners as they are breathable.
- Do not use douches - Research shows that douches are not healthy to use during pregnancy and they should be avoided. When used, douches can upset the balance of microorganisms and this could lead to bacterial vaginosis.
- Don’t use wipes - The vaginal area naturally maintains a pH balance. When you use wipes it can change the pH level in your genital area. It is best to avoid using wipes but if you really need to use them, choose alcohol-free and chemical-free wipes.
- Pads or panty liners are important - Panty liners and pads are used to absorb extra vaginal discharge and they can help you to feel more comfortable. Don’t use tampons as this could introduce germs to your vagina.
What Color Discharge is Normal?
Thin and white vaginal discharge is normal during pregnancy. However, if it has a fishy odor and is lumpy or thick, it may mean that you have an infection.
Brown vaginal discharge during pregnancy or pinkish discharge during early pregnancy may be a sign of implantation bleeding. Later on in your pregnancy, you may have vaginal spotting after a pelvic exam or sex. It is normal but you can speak to your doctor if you are concerned.
Yellow, green, or gray discharge that is accompanied by a foul odor and redness, itching, or swelling in the genital area is an indication that you have an infection. Yeast infections are quite common during pregnancy but it is important to speak to your doctor regarding it. Your doctor might recommend a suppository or a vaginal cream.
To prevent yeast infection, here are some steps that you can follow:
- Wear loose and breathable clothing
- Try to increase healthy bacteria by adding yogurt to your diet
- Use cotton underwear
- Dry your genital area well after swimming, showering, or exercising
Abnormal colored discharge could also be an indication of an STD (sexually transmitted disease) or a pregnancy complication like placental abruption or placenta previa.
If you are ever in doubt, contact your doctor to make sure that you and your baby are safe and healthy.