Watery Discharge During Pregnancy: Should You Worry?
- Clear, watery discharge is usually a normal sign throughout pregnancy.
- Clear or white watery discharge is your body’s way of protecting itself.
- There are many ways to stay comfortable and healthy while experiencing vaginal discharge.
- Contact your doctor if you suspect that your vaginal discharge is the result of pregnancy complications.
Pregnancy-related changes bring many developments to a woman’s body. You probably know about many signs, such as breast soreness and stretch marks, but what about the ones that are mentioned less?
Vaginal discharge tends to fall into the category of things that aren’t often discussed during pregnancy. While the presence of watery discharge can be disconcerting, it doesn’t necessarily signal that something is wrong.
Having questions about what’s happening to your body during pregnancy is very normal.
Many pregnant women who experience watery discharge wonder, “Should I be worried about watery discharge during pregnancy?” as well as, “Why is there fluid and what’s causing it?”
Watery Discharge During Pregnancy: What Does It Look Like?
It’s normal to have discharge before and during pregnancy. Let’s start with a review of what’s happening to your body and why this discharge exists.
Pre-Pregnancy Cervical Mucous
Before you got pregnant, vaginal mucus was there as a normal part of your menstrual cycle.
Right around the time of ovulation, estrogen production increases and signals your body to make lots of stretchy, clear vaginal mucous (some women say it reminds them of egg whites). This substance is there to help the sperm get to the egg your ovaries release during ovulation.
On other days, approximately two weeks before your period, there is little to no vaginal discharge. This is because fertilization of the egg hasn’t occurred, causing estrogen levels to drop and your menstrual cycle to begin.
Normal Vaginal Discharge in Pregnancy
Now that you’re pregnant, your body continually makes a clear watery discharge.
It’s called leukorrhea, and the purpose of this discharge is to keep your vaginal tissues clean and healthy, as well as to protect against irritation and infection.
Leukorrhea tends to have the following characteristics:
- Mild odor
- Be clear, off-white, or milky white
- Thin, runny consistency
- Moderate amount (enough to notice but not soak through your clothes)
These signs are totally normal and point towards a healthy vaginal area during pregnancy.
When Does Watery Discharge Start During Pregnancy?
Milky white vaginal discharge can begin in very early pregnancy, as soon as one to two weeks after conception—likely before you even know you’re pregnant.
Your body will continue to produce more vaginal discharge as your pregnancy progresses, and it will likely get heavier in the third trimester.
Is Watery Discharge During Pregnancy Normal?
Generally speaking, watery discharge is a completely normal part of pregnancy, even though it can seem abnormal.
When considering why vaginal discharge is a normal part of pregnancy, it may be helpful to remember that these lubricating fluids are your body’s way of keeping you and your baby safe and healthy.
What Causes Watery Discharge During Pregnancy?
There’s a good reason many women experience vaginal discharge in pregnancy—it’s your body’s way of cleansing and protecting itself.
When a mother’s body grows a baby, her pelvis and reproductive organs receive increased blood flow. Cervical and vaginal walls soften; the resulting milky vaginal discharge traps bacteria and removes dead cells.
Simply put, watery discharge is an important part of removing waste products from the process of developing your baby and protects you and your little one from harmful bacteria.
What to Do When you Have Watery Discharge During Pregnancy
Although pregnancy discharge is beneficial, it may be disconcerting and uncomfortable. To safely manage this watery fluid, consider the following suggestions:
Wear a Panty Liner
To absorb moisture and improve personal comfort, consider wearing panty liners. These small pads are designed for light flow, which makes them ideal to manage excessive moisture.
Switch to Cotton
If your underwear is typically made of synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon, consider switching to cotton.
This fabric is lightweight and breathable, which tends to help reduce the risk of vaginal infections from the excessive moisture of pregnancy discharge.
Though it may seem like a simple solution to manage excessive watery discharge, tampons are not safe for use during pregnancy.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, tampon use can introduce unwanted germs into your vagina, potentially putting you and your baby at risk.
Many women use douching as a means to relieve vaginal odor or to keep their vagina clean.
A mix of harmful and healthy bacteria is a normal part of the microbes that live in the vaginal area. Douching can disrupt this balance, as well as flush potentially harmful bacteria further into the vagina, risking infection of the cervix and other reproductive organs.
Most doctors do not recommend douching to relieve vaginal discharge, especially if you’re pregnant.
When to Worry About Watery Discharge During Pregnancy
While watery vaginal discharge in pregnancy can be somewhat normal, at times it can be a symptom of bacterial infection (such as yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis) or sexually transmitted diseases.
Seek medical attention if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Foul smell
- Colored discharge (such as green or yellow)
- Thick or chunky discharge
- Heavy discharge
- Vaginal itching, irritation, or burning sensation
- Pelvic pain
Untreated vaginal infection can pose a risk to you and your baby. Contact your physician promptly for evaluation.
What Are The Differences Between Excessive Watery Discharge And Leaking Amniotic Fluid?
There are some similarities between increased watery discharge and leaking amniotic fluid. At times, it’s hard to know what’s happening to your body, especially if this is your first pregnancy.
Fortunately, there are also many ways to tell them apart.
|Characteristics||Normal Discharge||Amniotic Fluid|
|Color||White, off-white, milky||Clear or light yellow|
|Consistency||Mucousy, watery||Thin, more liquid|
|Amount||Small||Big gush or steady trickle|
|When it occurs||Throughout pregnancy||Third trimester|
Watery Discharge During Pregnancy: What About Amniotic Fluid?
If you think you might have amniotic fluid leaking, here’s what you need to know:
What is Amniotic Fluid?
Amniotic fluid is the liquid that cushions and protects your baby while they grow in the amniotic sac.
An amniotic sac is made of a thin, stretchy membrane that serves as your baby’s “house” while they develop.
To better visualize this concept, think of a swimming pool. Your baby is floating on a raft (amniotic sac), surrounded by pool water (amniotic fluid), and in a swimming pool (your uterus).
My Water Broke: What Does That Mean?
One of the ways your body will tell you it’s getting ready to go into labor is by rupture (opening) of the membranes (your baby’s pool raft). This process is more a small hole than a giant tear and your baby remains safe.
However, an element to consider now is that your baby’s amniotic sac has an opening, which introduces the possibility that infectious bacteria can enter the sac and make your baby ill.
Your healthcare providers will take precautions to reduce contamination during cervical checks to avoid the introduction of unwanted bacteria into your vagina during labor.
My Water Broke: What Should I Do?
After you’ve put on a pad and changed your clothes, it’s time to call your doctor.
Be prepared to tell your doctor the following information:
- Your due date. If your water breaks before 37 weeks gestation, it can be a sign of preterm labor. This term should not be confused with premature labor, which is when you begin leaking amniotic fluid before starting the labor process.
- When your water broke. The longer your membranes are ruptured, the more opportunity there is for harmful bacteria to cause an infection for you or your baby.
- The color of the fluid. Normal amniotic fluid is clear to light yellow. If you notice green fluid (like thin or thick pea soup), it can mean your baby passed meconium (their first stool).
- Odor. Amniotic fluid usually doesn’t have a scent. If you notice a foul odor when your water breaks, it can be a sign of infection.
Your provider will then work with you to determine the best course of action.
Is watery discharge an indication of pregnancy?
Often in early pregnancy, your body will make more watery discharge than usual. However, not everyone notices an increase in vaginal discharge, and that’s also normal.
The best way to know if you’re pregnant is to take a pregnancy test.
Can I have sexual intercourse if I have watery discharge?
Generally speaking, it’s safe to have sexual intercourse while also having watery discharge.
However, if you have a high risk pregnancy, leaking amniotic fluid prematurely, or are being treated for a sexually transmitted disease, your doctor may ask you to avoid intercourse.
Why do I have pink or bloody discharge?
Vaginal discharge can be pink or blood-tinged during implantation (when the fertilized egg attaches to the wall of the uterus). A small amount of reddish discharge in this instance is considered normal.
If you’re further into your pregnancy, you may notice blood-tinged vaginal discharge as you lose your mucus plug.
If at any time you’re concerned about the color of your discharge or suspect you’re bleeding, contact your healthcare provider.
Watery discharge is a normal, and sometimes disconcerting, aspect of pregnancy. This fluid serves as an important safeguard for the mother and her growing baby.
The information WonderBaby provides is not intended to be, and does not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. Always consult with a qualified medical professional about your specific circumstances.
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