Your body experiences many changes as your pregnancy progresses, which is expected as you are nurturing a new life in your womb. There could be a few unpleasant symptoms, some of them normal, some of them abnormal – of which vaginal discharge during pregnancy is probably one of the more inconvenient ones.
One of the things you have to deal with is discharge during early pregnancy. If you notice your monthly cycle and the changes in your discharge every month, you will see that it tends to increase when you’re pregnant. This is referred to as leucorrhea and it is considered normal. It is usually without odor or sometimes it comes with a mild odor and has a milky white appearance.
What causes the increase of discharge during early pregnancy?
Since the estrogen levels increase when you’re pregnant, the blood flow to the vagina increases as well. These changes contribute to the increase of discharge. Some women treat vaginal discharge as a sign of ovulation while some think about it as an indicator of early pregnancy.
The discharge is composed of secretions from the vagina, cervix, typical bacteria flora from the vagina and the cells from the vagina wall as well. You may also notice more vaginal discharge as you near labor. As the cervix starts to thin out and dilate, it will expel this mucus and you will see discharge that somehow looks like egg white. Don’t panic if you see the mucus with a bit of blood.
Are These Discharges Normal?
You will notice a runny, whitish and milky substance coming from your vagina and staining your panties, which will increase in quantity along with your expanding waistline. It should be generally odorless or have mild odor that even your highly-sensitive pregnant nose should not find offensive in any way as it’s a useful knowledge.
This is called leucorrhea, which is a very normal part of pregnancy. It is composed of many substances coming from your womb such as cervical and vaginal secretions as well as the normal bacterial flora from your vagina. You already have these secretions even before you were pregnant but because of greater blood flow to your vagina and increased production of the estrogen hormone, you experience more vaginal discharge during pregnancy.
As your due date with the stork nears, however, the consistency of the vaginal discharge will change. Not only will the discharge become more frequent but it will be thicker in consistency, too, which is also normal. This is because you are only passing your mucous plug, which is basically just cervical secretion serving as a protective barrier to the uterus. In fact, you might pass out the entire mucous plug in one single glob with a tinge of pink blood in it.
Yet another reason for vaginal discharge during pregnancy is that the amniotic fluid will also steadily leak outside of the womb. Or it can gush out suddenly, which should be no cause for concern unless you are less than 37 weeks along. In this case, consulting with your doctor is necessary.
When Do Your See Your Doctor?
There are other instances when you should be concerned with vaginal discharges during your pregnancy. These situations that warrant an immediate visit to the doctor include: Let’s look at some of the common discharges during pregnancy.
If you are experiencing an odourless, white, cottage cheese like discharge inclusive of itching, redness and soreness in the vaginal area then you may be suffering from a yeast infection which is a common occurrence through the pregnancy period because of hormonal changes in the body. Additional symptoms include discomfort during intercourse and a burning sensation while urinating. If symptoms get worse then consult your doctor to know which vaginal creams or suppositories you may use to ease the pain. Probiotics can also be helpful in this instance.
Triggered by an inequality in the bacteria generally found in the vagina, bacterial vaginosis initiates in the system as a vaginal infection but may at times scale into the uterus causing premature rupture of the membranes resulting in a premature delivery. Itching, burning, asymptomatic with a fishy smelling discharge especially post sexual intercourse are some of its noticeable symptoms. To prevent any danger to the foetus and reduce chances of a preterm birth, consult your doctor immediately.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
There are 3 types of STDs that may occur during pregnancy. Producing no discharge at times or sometimes an odorous discharge is called ‘Chlamydia’. A yellowish discharge may be a symptom indicating ‘gonorrhoea’. A foamy yellow-greenish discharge accompanied with itching could indicate ‘trichomoniasis’. Preterm labour is possible if you contract STDs in your pregnancy followed with a uttering infection post birth. Your baby may contract the infection during delivery as it may pass through the placenta affecting the foetus. It is important that you do not ignore the symptoms and schedule a test with your doctor as most STDs are treatable with antibiotics during your pregnancy.
“Other than seeing your doctor, the best way to tell if you’re leaking urine (versus amniotic fluid; see below) is to note how often and when it occurs. “If you leak only occasionally, such as when you cough, sneeze or have a good belly laugh, it’s likely urine. The smell and colour are helpful indicators, too.”
With growing pressure on the uterus, leaking urine is normal. Try contracting and releasing the muscles around the vagina with Kegel exercises. This may help in controlling your bladder pressure.
A pregnant woman should only be discharging the amniotic fluid if she goes into labour. The fluid can be clear, brown, green, pink-tinged or yellow in colour. If the membranes rupture, the Amniotic fluid will continuously leak. If you are unable to differentiate between urine and amniotic fluid, put on a pad and lie down for about 30 minutes. If you feel a small gush when you stand, it could be amniotic fluid. Call your doctor immediately in that case.
Spotting, especially after intercourse of a pelvic examination is not unusual during pregnancy. However, check with your doctor, if it persists for more than 24 hours.