Pregnancy: it’s such a big responsibility, and it leads you to question and worry over things you normally would have given no thought to. Worse, it recreates normal on a daily basis. One topic that seems to be of particular concern while pregnant, but also one no one really wants to talk about, is pregnancy discharge. I mean, you’d think it gives some hint about the status of your pregnancy right? The vagina is your baby’s doorway out of the womb. So, what do various colors and textures of discharge during pregnancy mean?
You can get a rough overview on just what vaginal discharge is and what’s normal pre-pregnancy in this post for the non-belly fruit holders.
First off, is it normal to have more discharge during pregnancy?
Yep. Increased blood flow and a huge spike in estrogen levels are believed to be the culprits behind the copious discharge most pregnant women deal with. You may find thin panty liners are helpful to help keep you feeling dry and clean. Because they can be changed throughout the day, which wouldn’t be so practical with just undies, they can also help reduce your chances of minor infections such as yeast and vaginosis (both of which are more common in pregnancy). Avoid the use of tampons or douches as these may increase your risk of infection.
Pregnancy discharge colors: All the colors of the rainbow—almost
Brown discharge during pregnancy: Brown pregnancy discharge typically is very small amounts of old blood mixed with normal vaginal discharge. This minor bleeding is usually a result of some sort of light spotting, which could have a wealth of causes many of which are no cause for concern. Luckily, we have in-depth posts on that for very early pregnancy, first trimester spotting, and the second and third trimester as well.
Pink discharge during pregnancy: Pink pregnancy discharge is also a result of blood mixing with vaginal discharge, but the bleed may be ongoing, more recent, or slightly heavier. See the above linked posts on spotting or bleeding during pregnancy.
Orange discharge during pregnancy: The exact color of orange pregnancy discharge affects the potential meanings. A yellow-orange is likely just cervical mucus, a neon orange could be a sign of infection, and a streaky, pink-ish orange is likely very light, fresh spotting possibly from cervical trauma.
All three of the above discharges should be mentioned to your care provider. While in most cases this sign of light bleeding is harmless, better safe than sorry.
Yellow discharge during pregnancy: Yellow pregnancy discharge is typically discharge that is older or has been exposed to air. During pregnancy a plug of mucus forms within the cervix to prevent infection. This plug stays throughout your pregnancy, so it’s there for quite some time resulting in the yellowish shade. Hormonal shifts common in pregnancy also aid in the yellow hue. Yellow pregnancy discharge is normal and may even be one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. The exception to this rule is if yellow discharge is accompanied by a foul odor, then it may be a sign of infection.
White discharge during pregnancy: White pregnancy discharge is another normal shade. You may notice very thick white discharge as well. As long as the discharge does not have a foul scent, it is considered normal. This is yet again a result of hormone shifts during pregnancy.
Clear discharge during pregnancy: Clear is the final normal color of pregnancy discharge. You may notice you get more of this around the same time you would have been on your period or ovulated while not pregnant—you guessed it, more hormones at work.
Green discharge during pregnancy: This one is not normal. Usually green discharge is a sign of infection and you should see your care giver right away. Certain infections can increase your risk of pre-term labor.
Grey discharge during pregnancy: Grey pregnancy discharge is often associated with bacterial vaginosis. You may also notice a foul scent after sex. This is treated with antibiotics so you will need to let your doctor know, but is usually not cause for concern.
Textures and consistencies of discharge during pregnancy:
Thin and fluid-like discharge: While increased discharge can make things seem watery, very water-like discharge could be mixed with amniotic fluid, which is not something to take lightly. Your care provider should able to test a swab of the discharge to determine whether or not you are leaking fluid.
Slippery or milky discharge: This is normal. You probably saw it pre-pregnancy just in far less quantities.
Snot-like discharge: Remember up there where I talked about yellow discharge and your mucus plug? Snot-like discharge is bits of that plug. It isn’t necessarily cause for concern to be losing bits of mucus plug, but it may be a sign you should take it easy for a day or two. If you have snot-like discharge in large globs or that is tinged with pink, seek medical care right away. You could be going into labor. Your cervix dilates towards the end of your pregnancy though, so if you are close enough pre-term labor is not an issue, strike that recommendation for medical help.
Chunky discharge: You might describe the thick, white discharge as chunky and that would be normal, but if it’s cottage-cheese like and kind of smells, maybe makes you a bit itchy, you’re likely looking at a yeast infection.