Vaginal discharge in pregnancy

What is the normal discharge?

Although pregnancy is a thing of joy it could come with some strange signs. This could often raise serious questions as to which signs are normal and could be ignored or which should be taken very seriously. Pregnancy could come with discharges from the female genital part.

The amount of discharge in pregnancy can vary and,also,its thickness. But what is normal vaginal discharge in pregnancy? It can also be more consistent and frequent in some cases. 

Vaginal discharge in pregnancy

There could be discharge during early pregnancy. It can even increase by the day and continue throughout the pregnancy period. 

The vagina literally develops character traits and  takes on a different personality. This is as explained by an OB-GYN and an expert on women’s health, Dr Sheryl Ross, who works with the Providence Saint John a health center in Santa Monica California.

Leukorrhea is the discharge secreted in pregnancy. This discharge from the female sexual organ is milky white and thin. It doesn’t have a pungent smell and it’s clear in nature. You can experience changes in vaginal discharge in pregnancy before you even miss your period. 

In about a week or two after conception it could set in. With time into the pregnancy, vaginal discharge becomes more pronounced. You will experience the thickest discharge towards the end of the pregnancy. This is part of why you shouldn’t use tampons in pregnancy. 

There is a distinctive line of blood known as “show” and noticeable thick mucus which accompanies the discharge in the last weeks of pregnancy. This shouldn’t call for alarm because it is an early sign of labor. This is the vaginal discharge before labor.

Causes of changes to vaginal discharge

The flow of vaginal discharge goes on and off all through the menstrual cycle of a woman. This is as a result of irregularities in the level of hormones. During pregnancy, changes to the flow of vaginal discharge are continuously regulated by hormones. There is vaginal discharge after conception.

Vaginal discharge in pregnancy can also be as a result of changes in cervix during pregnancy. In order to help prevent infections, the body produces more vaginal discharge in pregnancy as a result of the cervix and walls of the vagina becoming soft. 

Towards the end of the pregnancy, the head of the baby pushes against the cervix. This could lead to increased vaginal discharge before labor.

Color changes could be noticed in vaginal discharge in pregnancy. Colored discharges in pregnancy can be acceptable in some cases. Colored vaginal discharges can include:

  • Gray
  • Red
  • Pink
  • Milky white or clear
  • Brown
  • Green or yellow
  • Lumpy and white

What is the normal vaginal discharge in pregnancy?

You will witness vaginal discharge at various stages of the menstrual cycle and in pregnancy.

The discharge that is not a problem is known as leukorrhea and it is mild smelling. It has a white and clear appearance. 

To reduce the occurrence of uterine infections, more discharges will be secreted in pregnancy.

Vaginal discharge will be secret in the final weeks of pregnancy. It will contain pink mucus  and is known as vaginal discharge before labor.

Normal vaginal discharge in pregnancy

This vaginal discharge before labor is always jelly-like and sticky. This mucus is a sign that the body is preparing for delivery. 

What is the vaginal discharge in pregnancy colors and meanings

Discharges may have different colors. These different colors for normal vaginal discharge have different meanings for health conditions. These discharge colors and their meanings include:

Vaginal discharge with green or yellow color

Green or yellow color discharge is normal. It is an unhealthy suggestion of a sexually transmitted infection. These STIs can include trichomoniasis and chlamydia. These STIs do not always come with signs but they can sometimes irritate and produce redness.

Research from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)has proven that STIs can result in complications in pregnancy for both the child and the mother. They can cause infertility for the woman. They can also distort the growth of the child and may not even be noticed during pregnancy. These STIs can also affect the nervous system. This yellow vaginal discharge should not be mistaken with leaks of urine. 

Red vaginal discharge

Red vaginal discharge in pregnancy is not good and calls for immediate attention. If it comes with heavy bleeding, cramps, cloths and abdominal pain, it should be reported to the doctor immediately. These signs are suggestive of pregnancy loss or miscarriage.

The discharge with red color could be as a result of infection or implantation especially in the first trimester of pregnancy. About 7% to 24% of women have been shown to bleed in early pregnancy. 

Bleeding in late pregnancy can suggest preterm labor or other serious issues. You should consult a doctor if this occurs.

Discharge with milky white or clear color

Discharges with milky white or clear color suggests leukorrhea. This can be normal and healthy if it does not have a pungent smell.

But if it becomes continuous and thick, the woman should see a doctor. It probably suggests preterm labor if this discharge becomes thick, jelly like and consistent in early pregnancy.

Normal vaginal discharge

Gray discharges

If vaginal discharge becomes gray and has a fishy smell, it suggests an infection of the vagina known as bacterial vaginosis(BV). Moreso, if the fishy smell increases with sex.

Bacteria vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection in a woman of child-bearing age. It results from having multiple sexual partners who may be infected and hormonal imbalance in the vagina.

White and lumpy color vaginal discharge in pregnancy

Discharge with white lumpy color that looks more like cottage cheese is most likely vaginal yeast infection.

Vaginal yeast infection is common during pregnancy. They can also come with painful intercourse, itching, painful urination and burning sensation. 

Read Also: Everything You Need to Know About Vaginal Yeast Infection.

Pink color discharges

Pink discharges may occur in late pregnancy or early pregnancy. It may not always be normal. It can occur before an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage or shortly before labor.

Light bleeding in the first trimester of pregnancy especially if it’s just for about 2 days may not increase risk of ectopic pregnancy. This is based on a research of more than 4510 women.

Brown vaginal discharge in pregnancy


When discharges from the female genitals in early pregnancy becomes brown, it could be a sign of old blood. Brown discharges should not really be a cause for alarm.

Dark brown discharges should be reported to the doctor, though. 

How to handle vaginal discharges

If the amount of mild-smelling light discharge in pregnancy increases, it doesn’t call for serious concern. If unusual colors and odors develop call the attention of the doctor.

That could be as a result out of infections. The doctor would recommend the appropriate medication to handle this. 

To maintain vaginal health, especially in pregnancy, women should undertake the following measures:

  • Eat healthy and avoid too much sugary foods that could result in vaginal infection
  • Do not wear tight fitting jeans or panties
  • Avoid underwears made of sticky fabric
  • Take probiotic diet and supplements that discourage yeast imbalances in the vagina
  • Always keep the vagina area dry especially after baths
  • Do not use tampons

When should I consult a doctor over vaginal discharge in pregnancy?

Vaginal discharge in pregnancy

When discharges become abnormal, it is necessary to alert the doctor. This could be a sign of vaginal yeast infection or ectopic pregnancy. There are a few signs accompany abnormal discharges. They include:

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Pungent odor
  • Vulvar odor
  • Yellow color
  • Gray color
  • Green color

Abnormal discharge can be caused by sexually transmitted diseasessexually transmitted diseases. This is why the Center for Disease Control and Prevention advices STD  screening for pregnant women. 

The doctor would normally screen for this on the first prenatal appointment. If a woman is diagnosed with an STD, she will be advice on how to prevent mother to child transmission.

An abnormal discharges could be a pointer to complications. When discharges becomes abnormally colored,thick and jelly-like,exceeding an ounce, it could be a sign of placental abruption.

When a woman becomes unsure with the kind of discharge, seek the advice of a medical professional. She should note the accompanying characteristics. The woman should equally note the time it started as this would help the doctor in his consultation.


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