Pretty much all women have experienced vaginal discharge at some point, and pregnant women are no exception. If you’ve recently noticed something different on your underwear, you might be wondering if that’s a good or bad thing. In fact, it’s quite a normal thing (one of the most common pregnancy symptoms). In addition to your breasts getting tender and bigger, and loving and hating on certain foods, vaginal discharge is yet another change that your body undergoes with pregnancy. However it’s important to know what’s normal and healthy, and what’s not.
What causes vaginal discharge during pregnancy?
Like everything else related to your ever-changing pregnant body: hormones are the culprit behind the new secretions in your panties. According to Healthline, the greater blood supply and fluctuation in hormones that your body experiences in preparation for baby are responsible for your vaginal discharge. The cervix also plays a role because as the cervix and vaginal wall soften, the body produces excess discharge to help prevent infections.
What is normal vaginal discharge?
Normal vaginal discharge, also known as leukorrhea, is thin, clear, or milky white, and mild smelling. Because you can experience it as early as one to two weeks after conception, leukorrhea is one of the first changes you’ll notice in your pregnancy. Early on, you might also notice your vaginal discharge is brown or pink, which is normally a sign of implementation bleeding. Again, nothing to worry about.
The amount of vaginal discharge usually changes throughout the course of your pregnancy, becoming more noticeable over time, and, ultimately, is at its heaviest at the end of your pregnancy.
The only other time your vaginal discharge will look different but is still completely normal? When you notice thick mucus with streaks of blood near your due date. This is called “show” and it means you’ll soon be going into labor.
What not to do.
It’s totally understandable that you might want to save a few pairs of underwear from the discharge, however, the American Pregnancy Association warns against using tampons as they can introduce new bacteria into your vagina. Instead you might want to use your favorite pantyliners. Another big “no no” is douching since it can mess with your natural balance of vaginal bacteria and lead to infection.
Yeast infections are also pretty common in pregnancies. If you think you might have a yeast infection, it’s recommended that you don’t treat yourself at home even if you’ve had experience with yeast infections before. When in doubt, make an appointment with your doctor.
When to see a doctor.
While vaginal discharge is definitely a little funky, you should only see a doctor when it starts to smell and look funky. Visit your doctor if your discharge:
- is green, yellowish, or grey
- has a strong and/or foul odor
- burns, itches or causes you any discomfort
- is accompanied with a swollen vulva or any redness
- has spotting and/or you feel cramping
Because your vaginal discharge could be anything from a yeast infection to a STD to something serious to nothing abnormal at all, it’s crucial to check in with a professional healthcare provider if you have any questions or concern. While vaginal discharge can be a cause of concern, rest easy that it’s usually a normal part of pregnancy that’s actually protecting your baby.
Written by Brianne Hogan.