Is it normal to have vaginal discharge during pregnancy?

Increased vaginal discharge is a normal part of pregnancy, but it's important to keep an eye on it and tell your doctor or midwife if you think it smells or looks unusual, or you have pain, itching or soreness in the vaginal area. You may have an infection such as thrush, which can be easily treated by your GP.

All women have some vaginal discharge starting a year or two before puberty and ending after the menopause. The amount of discharge changes from time to time and usually gets heavier just before your period. Normal discharge is clear, white or creamy and may smell musky but not unpleasant.

Vaginal discharge during pregnancy

Most women find that vaginal discharge increases when they are pregnant – this is quite normal and happens for a few reasons. During pregnancy the cervix (neck of the womb) and vaginal walls get softer and discharge increases to help prevent any infections travelling up from the vagina to the womb.

Towards the end of pregnancy, the baby's head pressing on the cervix can cause discharge. This can sometimes be quite heavy, and may feel as though you've accidentally passed urine.

In the last week or so of pregnancy, your discharge may contain streaks of thick mucus and some blood. This is called a 'show' and happens when the cervical plug (a 'ball' of thick mucus that fills the cervix during pregnancy) comes away. It's a sign that the body is starting to prepare for birth, and you may have a few small 'shows' in the days before you go into labour.

If you have any bleeding from your vagina, you should contact your midwife or doctor. Lots of women lose a small amount of blood during pregnancy, and this is usually nothing to worry about. However, it can sometimes be a sign of a more serious problem such as a miscarriage or a problem with the placenta.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 20/05/2013

Next review due: 19/05/2015