Having a baby is one of the most joyous times in a woman’s life. Anticipating the day you will bring your little one home, picking a name and choosing nursery colors can all make you brim with excitement. But no matter how well you prepare for the baby’s arrival, you may not be fully prepared for the myriad of changes your body will go through. In addition to breast tenderness, frequent urination, and food aversions or cravings, you will also be experiencing white discharge while pregnant, which can make you feel quite uncomfortable.
If you have never really paid attention to how your vagina works, the increasing amount of white vaginal discharge may appear out of the ordinary, causing you to worry. Most of the time, vaginal discharge is perfectly normal, but it may sometimes indicate the presence of an infection that might threaten your baby’s health as well as your own well-being.
Is white discharge normal during pregnancy? How do you know when it’s not normal? Our expert is answering your most common questions below.
1. What Is Vaginal Discharge?
Vaginal discharge is an important part of the female reproductive system, serving as an important housekeeping function of the vagina. The discharge is produced by glands inside the vagina and cervix, and it is usually made up of dead cells and bacteria from your vaginal flora. Just as your mouth produces saliva to flush out bacteria, your vagina produces this mucus to keep itself clean, maintain its acidic pH value, and prevent bacteria or other organisms from traveling to your uterus.
2. What Does Normal Vaginal Discharge Look Like?
The hue and consistency of vaginal discharge varies from woman to woman, but as a rule of thumb, normal mucus is either white or clear, and has a texture that ranges from watery and stretchy to thick and clumpy. Your menstrual cycle largely impacts what your discharge looks like. The mucus is white clumpy after your period (these are your “dry days”), creamy white between your dry days and ovulation, egg white and stretchy during ovulation (the middle of your menstrual cycle), and clear watery on the most fertile day of the cycle (the day before the egg is released or the day it’s released).
White vaginal mucus does not bear any odor, and does not cause itching or redness either.
3. Is It Normal to Have White Discharge During Pregnancy?
Hormonal changes are the primary factor that affects the hue, consistency and odor of white creamy discharge. When you get pregnant, your body goes through a lot of these hormonal changes – most notably, estrogen levels increase at a great deal, causing your vagina to produce a lot more white mucus than normally. As a matter of fact, every woman experiences thick white discharge during pregnancy, which is one of the first and most common pregnancy signs.
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4. Does White Discharge Mean You’re Pregnant?
Women experience watery white discharge throughout their menstrual cycle, and not only when they’re pregnant. If you notice milky white discharge coming from down below, it does not necessarily mean that you’re pregnant. Unless you experience other symptoms such as breast tenderness, frequent urination and coloring of the vaginal opening, chances are you are not pregnant. However, if the discharge is white yellow, chunky or clumpy, and is accompanied by itching, swelling or redness of the vulva, pelvic pain, or a foul odor, you may have an infection instead, which might cause an increase in the amount of mucus.
5. Does the Amount of Vaginal Discharge Increase As Delivery Date Approaches?
Your body continues to go through a lot of hormonal changes until birth. That said, estrogen levels continue to increase, and the walls of the uterus soften, thus causing lots of discharge to come out of the vagina. As labour and delivery approach, the mucus plug (a “ball” of mucus that fills the cervix during pregnancy) comes away. The mucus is clear, cloudy, thick and sticky, and may come out as a plug, a lump, or as increased mucus discharge over several days. When the cervix thins, some blood is released into the cervix, causing the mucus to be tinged with brown, pink or red blood. The whole process is called a “show,” and may occur several times before you actually go into labour.
Sometimes, it might happen that the mucus plug comes out while you are on the loo, so there is a good chance that you will miss it. However, you might spot it on your underwear or panty liner, or when you wipe. The mucus plug is by no means a reason of concern, and it does not necessarily mean that labour or delivery is imminent. Several days may pass before you experience contractions.
6. My Vaginal Discharge Smells Very Bad – Is This Normal?
A bad odor is usually a sign that something bad is going on down below. If your discharge is white clumpy, white chunky or white creamy and has a bad odor, you may have an infection. Possible infections include yeast infection (or thrush), bacterial vaginosis (or BV), and sexually transmitted diseases (Chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis). Other symptoms you may experience are itching, swelling and redness of the vulva, burning during urination, pelvic pain, and even occasional spotting.
If you notice a foul smell coming from your vagina, call your doctor immediately and have the issue checked right away. Not addressing the infection on time can result in pregnancy complications that threaten both your baby’s and your own health. Your doctor will prescribe you appropriate medications that are safe to use during pregnancy, along with extra supplements that will keep your body functioning well.
7. How Can I Deal with Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy?
This is a common question women ask even when they are not pregnant. If the mucus is not caused by an infection, there is nothing you can do about it. Keeping yourself clean and fresh without being overly diligent about your personal hygiene is the best thing you can do. Vaginal discharge is your vagina’s way of staying clean and healthy, so you don’t have to exaggerate. Wash your genital area more infrequently (say, every two or three days) and use only mild, unscented soap occasionally. Avoid using any other hygiene products in your intimate area, such as scented deodorants or perfumes, as they will alter your vagina’s pH and create a breeding ground for bacteria and other organisms to thrive in. Wear only cotton underpants to let the skin breathe and circulate air, and change your undies as often as needed if there is too much discharge. Rely on sanitary pads and avoid tampons at all costs, as they also change the environment of your vagina.