Vaginal discharge during pregnancy is normal. Almost all women have more vaginal discharge during pregnancy. During pregnancy, the cervix and the walls of the vagina get softer and there is an increase in vaginal discharge as the body produces more oestrogen and blood flow to vaginal area increases as well. This helps to prevent transfer of infections from the vagina to the womb.
The amount of discharge increases towards the end of pregnancy and might be confused with urine. Also, the head of your baby could press against your cervix during this period which may result in vaginal discharge increase. As said earlier, increased vaginal discharge is a normal part of pregnancy. That said, you should be watchful of it and explain to your Doctor if you observe unusual changes. The types of vaginal discharge during pregnancy include the following:
- MUCOUSAL DISCHARGE: The blood flow to the cervical region in increased during pregnancy. This leads to and increase in cervical fluid secretion during pregnancy which leads to increased pregnancy discharge. You should not worry about this increased vaginal discharge during pregnancy as it is common and harmless. This discharge is milky-white, clear, thin, mucus like and mild smelling. It helps in preventing infection and keeps the vagina clean. You should see your Doctor if the discharge comes with a strong and an offensive unusual odour.
- AMNIOTIC FLUID LEAKAGE: This discharge can occur at any time during your pregnancy. This liquid surrounds your foetus in the uterus and helps in the proper development of the baby. Amniotic fluid leakage may feel like pouring out or a slow flow of warm fluid from your vagina. Usually, it is clear and odourless but may contain traces of blood or mucus. Amniotic fluid leakage may be dangerous for you and your baby at any time during your pregnancy. While you could leak a small amount of amniotic fluid naturally, losing too much could be harmful. You should see your Doctor immediately, if you observe green-tinged or brownish yellow cervical fluid as this could indicate your baby has passed a stool in the uterus that can cause breathing complications for the baby at birth.
- YEAST INFECTION DISCHARGE: Changes in hormonal levels during pregnancy could affect pH of the vagina. This increases its susceptibility to pathogenic organisms that could cause infections like candida. Therefore, you are more prone to yeast infection during the second trimester particularly. Symptoms of yeast infection include thick white vaginal discharge, itching around the vagina, redness and soreness around the vagina, pain during urination and sex. You should see your Doctor for appropriate treatment if you experience any of these.
- SPOTTING: Spotting can be referred to as the passage or little amount of brown, red or pink blood during pregnancy. It is lighter in comparison to your menstrual period blood. Spotting can be due to a variety of reasons. About 20% of pregnant women notice spotting during the first trimester and it could occur dur to miscarriage, implantation bleeding and ectopic pregnancy. During the second trimester, spotting could occur due to cervical polyps (small growths on your cervix), cervical irritation after sex, or a cervical exam. It could also occur if there is a passage of the cervical mucus plug. You should see your Doctor if you experience vaginal bleeding or spotting at any time during pregnancy. Heavy vaginal bleeding during the second trimester and third trimester of pregnancy could indicate medical emergencies such as premature labour, placenta previa, placental abruption and late miscarriage, which require fast medical attention
- MUCUS PLUG: The mucus plug seals the cervix during pregnancy and helps prevent infection occurrence. Usually, it is released during the later part of pregnancy as you are approaching labour. The mucus plug forms during early pregnancy around the 7th week to seal the cervix and it serves as an indicator that labour will be coming soon when it loosens and starts to come out. Labour may begin soon after the discharge of the mucus plug, or it could be one to two weeks later. This thick mucus plug may be tinged with streaks of blood. It may be sticky or stringy in consistency. If you observe your mucus plug has been released, it is good you see your Doctor to assess how much time is left for labour to begin. It becomes more necessary to visit your Doctor.
In conclusion, vaginal discharge during pregnancy is normal and is usually not a cause for concern. You can use unscented panty liners, or you may change your undergarments more often if you feel irritated by it. You should not use douches, tampons, vaginal washes or wipes as they could interfere with the natural balance of pH levels and bacteria in your vagina.
You should meet with your Doctor if you observe anything unusual or strange about your vaginal discharge to confirm if there is an underlying problem.
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