Early pregnancy discharge: is it normal or not?
A woman will begin to get vaginal discharge a few years before puberty and continue to see it until she reaches menopause. During pregnancy, the discharge doesn’t stop, rather, it might be different as a result of all the changes a woman’s body undergoes when she gets pregnant. In most cases, early pregnancy discharge is quite normal. However, there are cases where you need to be concerned.
Early pregnancy discharge: what is normal?
Pregnancy comes with an increase in vaginal discharge. This means that a woman will notice she has more discharge than before. According to the NHS, the increase in the volume of vaginal discharge during pregnancy is to prevent infections from travelling up the vagina to the uterus.
Pregnancy can cause a lot more discharge than you got when you weren’t pregnant, and you may need to wear an unscented panty liner to catch the flow.
Early pregnancy discharge should be clear, thin, and have a mild, inoffensive smell. Vaginal discharge can even be one of the first signs of pregnancy, even before you miss your period. You may notice that it is heavier than normal in the first few weeks of pregnancy.
As the pregnancy progresses, the discharge will get heavier. Towards the end of the pregnancy, this previously clear discharge may come thicker with spots of mucus and blood. Usually, a bloody discharge is a sign that the woman is close to labour and childbirth.
Why does your vaginal discharge change during pregnancy?
There are two main reasons for this change during pregnancy. The first is due to pregnancy hormones and the second is because of the changes the cervix undergoes during pregnancy.
• Hormones and early pregnancy discharge
Hormonal fluctuations are normal during pregnancy. These changes can affect a woman’s appetite, mood, stamina and even vaginal discharge.
• Changes in the cervix
The vaginal wall and the cervix soften during pregnancy. As a result, the body has to produce more discharge to keep infections at bay. Towards the end of pregnancy, the baby’s head, which usually presses against the cervix at this point, can trigger more vaginal discharge.
When is it bad?
Early pregnancy discharge is quite normal. However, there are instances where you definitely need to see a doctor. You should be concerned if you notice:
• Foul-smelling vaginal discharge whether you’re pregnant or not
• Green or yellow discharge
• Burning sensation when you urinate
• Too-thick discharge
All these signs point to a vaginal infection, which is why you need to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Can you stop early pregnancy discharge?
No, you can’t stop this normal process. It might take a while for you to get used to it, but you can manage it by doing the following:
• Maintain excellent genital hygiene
• Wear cotton panties
• Use unscented panty liners
• Avoid tampons during pregnancy
• Don’t practice douching
• Avoid using perfumes and other scented soaps around the vagina
• Keep clean always to prevent vaginal infections during pregnancy
• You need to dry your genitals thoroughly after bathing or swimming
• Your underwear should be loose and breathable
• Yoghurt is great for vaginal health, so add it to your pregnancy diet
What does an abnormal discharge signify?
An abnormal discharge can be a sign of a serious STD. Naturally, your doctor will screen you for STDs during your appointment. However, if you suspect that you have an STD, you should report to your healthcare provider so that something can be done before it becomes a threat to your baby’s life.
An abnormal vaginal discharge can also signify serious complications in your pregnancy. Ii it is bright red, it could be a sign of placenta abruption.
Ectopic pregnancies can also cause abnormal vaginal discharge. This kind of pregnancy happens when the embryo implants outside the uterus. It can cause bleeding and, of course, unusual discharge.
Remember to report to your doctor whenever you notice something strange happening to you during pregnancy. Early medical intervention can save your life and that of your baby.
How to prevent infections during pregnancy
You can prevent vaginal infections by doing the following:
• After using the toilet, wipe from back to front
• Alternatively, wash the area around your anus after using the toilet
• Never touch your genital area with dirty hands: wash your hands with soap and water before you touch it
• Reduce the amount of refined sugar in your diet
• Don’t use tampons during pregnancy; tampon users have a risk of getting toxic shock syndrome
Thrush in pregnancy
According to the NHS, thrush can cause unusual discharge during pregnancy. Signs of thrush include:
• White, cheesy vaginal discharge
• Irritation and itching around the vagina
Report these symptoms to your doctor immediately.
Early pregnancy discharge is an inevitable part of your pregnancy journey. Often, it will be different from what you used to get before you conceived. However, if you follow the steps highlighted above, you can manage it well.