Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy

By Lisa Ketchmark

October 9, 2019

Hi my name is Lisa. I am a proud Mama to 3 inquisitive, energetic, and beautiful children. I am also very proud to be a Registered Nurse and The Mama Coach for Hamilton, Ontario. I thoroughly enjoy educating and supporting families, in an attempt to make parenthood a touch easier.

As we know pregnancy is filled with changes and your vaginal discharge follows suit.  During pregnancy, normal vaginal discharge is called leukorrhea. It is described as a thin, milky substance with a mild odour or odourless (American Pregnancy Association, 2019).  It is present in the first and second trimester and tends to increase in the third trimester. Leukorrhea helps to constantly flush or cleanse this area, naturally preventing the buildup of bacteria.  Please realize this discharge is normal and healthy.

It is recommended that you do not douche, which would affect the normal flora or use tampons, which can introduce new bacteria (American Pregnancy Association, 2019).   If necessary, pantyliners can be worn. If the discharge changes (colour, amount, odour) please discuss this with your healthcare provider.

Unfortunately during pregnancy, yeast infections and the discharge associated with them are not uncommon, especially in the 2nd trimester.  The vagina is dealing with constant chemical changes and sometimes an imbalance occurs allowing the yeast to build up (American Pregnancy Association, 2019).  

Signs of a Yeast Infection

  • Discharge – white/tan colour, looks like cottage cheese and may smell like yeast/bread
  • Or Discharge is greenish or yellowish, look like cottage cheese and smell like yeast/bread
  • Increase in discharge
  • Redness, itching, irritated lips of the vagina
  • Burning sensation during urination or intercourse
    • (American Pregnancy Association, 2019)

If you experience the above symptoms please see your healthcare provider as certain treatments are preferred during pregnancy.  Your doctor may also need to rule out other possible causes such as STIs or bacterial vaginosis which can have similar symptoms but obviously require different treatments.  Never ignore these symptoms or try to treat them without medical assistance.

Mucus Plug

Ideally, later in the 3rd trimester, one will lose their mucus plug.  Some women will notice this, while others do not.   A discharge of mucus from your vagina may happen days or weeks before your baby is born. During pregnancy, your cervix is closed tightly and mucus collects in the cervix and forms a plug-like accumulation at the center.  As the cervix beings to soften, this mucus ‘plug’ is released. It is a sign that your body is getting ready, but not a sign that labour will necessarily start right away. Sometimes the discharge has a brownish or pink tinge throughout if this looks more like blood than mucus, report it right away to your healthcare provider. 

Leukorrhea, yeast infections, mucus plugs and yes, there is one more thing to discuss. When your membranes rupture or your “water breaks”, it can be a gush of fluid or it can be a slow leak.  The leak can be subtle, making one question, whether their “water has broken” or “is it urine?”. The key, amniotic fluid is odourless. When this occurs, please inform your healthcare provider or go to your birth center even if labour has not yet started, for an assessment.  

 

References
American Pregnancy Association, 2019.  Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy. 

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