Pregnancy and baby

Vaginal discharge in pregnancy

All women, whether they’re pregnant or not, have some vaginal discharge starting a year or two before puberty and ending after the menopause. How much discharge you have changes from time to time and it usually gets heavier just before your period.

Is it normal to have vaginal discharge in pregnancy?

Yes. Almost all women have more vaginal discharge in pregnancy. 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 amount of discharge increases and can be confused with 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 mucus that has been present in your 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.

Increased discharge is a normal part of pregnancy, but it's important to keep an eye on it and tell your doctor or midwife if it changes in any way.

When to see your midwife or GP

Tell your midwife or doctor if:

  • the discharge is coloured
  • it smells strange
  • you feel itchy or sore

Healthy vaginal discharge should be clear and white and should not smell unpleasant. If the discharge is coloured or smells strange, or if you feel itchy or sore, you may have a vaginal infection.

The most common infection is thrush, which your doctor can treat easily. You should not use some thrush medicines in pregnancy.

Always talk to your doctor, pharmacist or midwife if you think you have thrush. You can help prevent thrush by wearing loose cotton underwear, and some women find it helps to avoid perfumed soap or perfumed bath products.

Find out more about vaginal dischargepreventing thrush and treating thrush.

You should also tell your midwife or doctor if your vaginal discharge increases a lot in later pregnancy.

If you have any vaginal bleeding in pregnancy, 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.

Find out about more common pregnancy health problems.  

Page last reviewed: 18/02/2013

Next review due: 18/02/2015

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