Vaginal Discharge

Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy

Vaginal discharge, also called leukorrhea, during pregnancy is very common and normal. Similar to what a woman experiences during her normal menstrual cycle, the increase in estrogen in your body and the increase in blood flow around your vaginal area is the reason for the vaginal discharge. As your pregnancy continues, you will see an increase in the amount of discharge exiting your vagina. And as your due date draws closer, you may lose your mucous plug which signifies labor is near.

It’s important to know that there are different types of discharge a woman will experience. It should have a certain color, texture and smell. If it doesn’t, you should seek medical attention and notify your health care provider before trying to treat yourself with over the counter medications.

When it’s okay:

  • Milky color
  • Thin
  • Odorless or mild smell

When it’s not okay:

  • Lots of thin, clear discharge (could be amniotic fluid)
  • Before 37 weeks, if it becomes watery, mucous –like or bloody
  • If there’s a change in the type of discharge than you’ve been experiencing
  • Pinkish or brownish in color
  • If infection may be present (yeast infection)
  • White discharge accompanied by itching or burning
  • Foul smelling
  • Yellowish, greenish or gray in color

Do’s and Don’ts

There are specific things you can and can’t do to help with the vaginal discharge. Many times we experience it before pregnancy on occasion, however there are some things we shouldn’t do while were pregnant that we may be accustomed too, such as:

Don’t:

  • Use a tampon
  • Purchase over-the-counter medications
  • Assume it’s any specific infection
  • Douche

Do:

  • Talk with your doctor or midwife
  • Use a panty liner to ‘catch’ the discharge
  • Pay attention to the amount, color and texture

When it comes to the “Don’ts” there are reasons why you shouldn’t douche. Douching can sometimes create air bubbles inside of your vagina which can lead to serious problems for an expectant mother. Using a tampon, like douching, can also disrupt the normal balance of vaginal flora and increase your risk of a vaginal infection. Purchasing over the counter medications to treat an infection is silly, especially if you don’t know if you 1) have an infection or 2) what type of infection it is if you have one. Assuming it’s a vaginal infection when it’s an STD can lead you down the wrong treatment path. Therefore, it’s important that you should talk with your health care provider before attempting any at-home treatment remedies.

When it comes to the “Do’s” it’s important you know that using a panty liner can help you to avoid messes inside your underwear. It’s always a good idea to wear cotton underwear in case your panty liner doesn’t fully stop the mess. The cotton versus lace or silk underwear will absorb the discharge better and prevent it from running down your legs. Talking with your doctor or midwife can ease your mind, as well as inform them of problems that may arise. They are the professionals and are better equipped to treat the problem if it’s out of the ordinary discharge. Paying attention to the color, texture and amount of vaginal discharge is also a great way to keep you in tuned with your body. Plus, if there is a change you will know immediately and can let your health care provider know.

Other than that there’s really nothing more you can do to stop the discharge from happening. It’s a normal part of being pregnant, and unfortunately something expectant mothers have to deal with and get used to.

[Page updated November 2013]