What You Need to Know About White Discharge During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body goes through many changes; one of them is experiencing white discharge. This article will tell you what to expect in such a situation, what are the warning signs, and how to cope with the condition in question.
Did You Know?
Most women panic with the sight of white discharge, but do you know that it is actually a natural way to keep the vagina clean? White discharge, which is also known as leukorrhea, carries the old cells, keeps the area clean, and puts a 'No Entry' board for the bacteria.

White discharge is a very common condition, which most women are familiar with. Usually, it is reported during the onset of puberty and thereafter, present throughout the reproductive years of a woman. In most of the cases, it is believed to be an early sign of pregnancy and remains very active in all the three trimesters. However, many pregnant women, due to lack of proper knowledge, get alarmed at its sight. The truth is that this discharge is perfectly a normal condition, although there are certain facts that you must know, to be able to differentiate normal from abnormal!

Causes

The white discharge that you notice at various stages of pregnancy is nothing but cervical mucus. This mucus performs various functions in a woman's reproductive system. During this period, a mass of cervical mucus (mucus plug) is formed at the mouth of the cervix to guard the uterus and fetus against infections, which results in white discharge. Thick discharge in all the stages of pregnancy is common due to the changes in the texture of mucus. It is no longer clear and watery, but has a consistency of a lotion. Although the odor is not exactly unpleasant, you may find it different from the usual. Sometimes, you may have pinkish, or brownish discharge; however, this is mostly due to old blood. The thick white discharge during early pregnancy is due to the elevated levels of estrogen and increased blood supply to the vaginal area.

Changes You Can Expect

In the First Trimester (Week 1-13)
Generally, the discharge is thin and clear in the first trimester, but it is always more than the usual cyclic one. As the pregnancy progresses, you may observe thick and creamy discharge. It is very necessary to keep a check on the color and odor of the discharge, which may result in any kind of infection.

In the Second Trimester (Week 14-26)
The flow continues in the same way during the second trimester. Here, the discharge may be creamy, or the texture may resemble the egg white part. It might look like the pre-pregnancy discharge as well. There is no need to worry if it remains odorless, or emits a very mild odor. If you observe a lot of blood flow in this stage, then it is very necessary to consult your doctor.

In the Third Trimester (Week 27-40)
Although you will continue to get white discharge throughout the nine months, its appearance in the later stage will differ significantly from the previous trimester. In the final weeks of pregnancy, the discharge is characterized by "bloody show". The mucus plug, as mentioned above, comes off loose along with old blood from the uterus. Thick blood clots may also be seen during this period. Besides, the process of effacing or thinning of the cervix also results in white discharge. Generally, it is thin and watery.

The Last Stage (Till Delivery)
Discharge during late pregnancy is often an indication that the body is preparing for childbirth. Just a few days before your labor, you may experience a watery discharge, which you may mistake for urine. This is nothing but leaking of amniotic fluid, and you are on your way to the hospital.

Is It Harmful for You or Your Baby?

White discharge does not harm you or your baby on its own. However, if it gets infected in some way, then the infection could spread to your cervix. Hence, undertaking extensive hygiene measures is the best solution to keep the risk of infections at bay.

Watch Out for These Infections

It is very necessary to keep an eye on the color, odor, and texture of the discharge. If the color is transparent, or creamy and has no odor or has a very mild odor, then there is nothing to worry about. However, if you observe any of the following changes in the discharge, you might need a quick talk with your doctor as it can lead to an infection.

Yeast Infection/Candidiasis
  • Lumpy and white in color
  • Pain while urinating, or burning sensation in your vagina
  • Occurs with overgrowth of yeast in the vaginal area
Gonorrhea
  • Thick and yellow in color
  • Odor is unpleasant
Bacterial Vaginosis
  • Gray, or green in color
  • Odor is fishy
  • Occurs due to imbalance in the growth of bacteria
Trichomoniasis
  • Copious, frothy, and green in color
  • Irritation and discomfort while urinating
  • Odor is unpleasant
Chlamydia
  • Purulent and malodorous
  • Painful urination and fever
Polyps/Cancer
  • Transparent but in huge amount
  • Foul smell
  • Affects the cervix, or the endometrium

When to Call Your Caregiver

There are certain abnormal cases that may warrant medical intervention. In these cases, you have to consult your midwife or caregiver as soon as possible.

» Watery white discharge before 37 weeks is abnormal, as leakage of amniotic fluid means that the amniotic sac has ruptured, and your baby is no longer securely contained in your uterus. If you experience a gush of water, or continuous wetting of your underpants weeks before your due date, call your doctor immediately.

» Talk to your doctor regarding your concerns, or anything that you feel is far from normal. Remember, it is important to get your doubts cleared for the sake of a safe pregnancy.

Self Care

The following measures will help you prevent the risk of infections and keep the area clean, when you are having a white discharge.

Dos

Wash your nether region with soap a couple of times in a day to keep it clean, and pat it dry.
While wiping the area, wipe it in a front-to-back motion and not the other way round.
Always wear a clean, cotton underwear and make it a point to change it at least twice a day.
Prefer breathable cotton clothes at night over silk, or nylon.
Use pads or panty liners, which will make you feel dry and comfortable.
Always use a condom so as to avoid the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

Don'ts

Do not use any kind of scented creams, or bubble baths.
Avoid the use tampons as they can introduce microbes in the vagina and cause an infection.
Don't try to overcome the foul smell with any kind of genital or fancy sprays and powders.
Do not attempt to treat itching, redness, swelling, etc., on your own.
Avoid using any public lavatory in order to stay away from germs (that could harm you, or your baby).
Do not douche as it may wash away the helpful bacteria needed by your vagina.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical professional.
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