What to Expect When You’re Expecting...Discharge During Pregnancy

Pssttt, you're pregnant.  And while that may no longer be a surprise to you, what could be is the way your body will evolve and respond as it prepares for giving birth. One of the most common developments a woman may see during pregnancy is a change in vaginal discharge.  From color to odor and even volume, we went to the experts to find out what to expect when you’re expecting discharge during pregnancy. 


What is discharge during pregnancy? 

Vaginal discharge is a mix of fluid and cells from the vagina that varies from whitish and sticky to clear and watery, and sometimes other colors when changes occur.  Discharge can possibly associated with an odor, sometimes just pH related and other times a symptom of something more. 

Vaginal discharge can be a spectrum of colors, again depending on your body and what is happening within it. During pregnancy, you can expect discharge because changes to the cervix during pregnancy soften the vaginal wall and the body then produces excess discharge to help prevent infections. As you move into the latter months of pregnancy, your baby's head may also press against the cervix, which often leads to increased vaginal discharge as well.

What colors can discharge be? 

Normal vaginal discharge, known as leukorrhea, is thin, clear, or milky white, and mild smelling. Changes in vaginal discharge can begin as early as one to two weeks after conception, even before you've missed your period.  Typically, women report that nearing the end of their pregnancy, vaginal discharge is the most significant and that it increases during the duration of the usual 9-month journey. 

What many women also report, and fortunately is cleared by many OBGYN as normal, is the additional tinge of brown or red in their discharge in their third trimester. These streaks of thick mucus with slight streaks of blood, called “show” are usually an early sign of labor and should not be cause for alarm. Still, everybody and every body is different, so sharing your experiences with your provider is ideal so that they can assess whether your discharge is a cause for concern or further evaluation. 

What causes brown discharge during pregnancy? 

Most commonly, brown discharge is from irritation from an onset of hormones and the ample blood flow coursing through your body.  This makes your cervix extremely sensitive (even why some women prefer not to  have intercourse during pregnancy) and can tend to sometimes stain underwear when untimely spotting occurs. 


How can I manage the discomfort of discharge and other leaks during pregnancy?

Here at Apele, one of our staff, Stevie, (who many of you have met at women’s conferences and  marathon expos) is currently pregnant with her 4th child. We met her back when she was pregnant with her third child years ago and she bought our panties specifically for pregnancy.  Knowing that the gusset portion of our panty keeps you dry, this was a helpful solution that took away the need for abrasive pantyliners that caused chafing.  She just wanted a soft, stretchable pair of undies that formed to her body (grew with her belly) and stayed put while also keeping her dry, despite pregnancy leaks - from the occasional sneeze to daily discharge. 

Our interior layer is leak-resistant: it is constructed with a power mesh layer which sits against your skin and under it, is a leak resistant layer made of a thin sheath of polypropylene to prevent leaking. The combination of these two interior fabrics + a high stretch performance fabric creates the perfect everyday leak resistant solution. 

When should I report abnormal or alarming discharge? 

We always recommend pursuing what feels right for you.  When you’re pregnant (and when you aren’t) your medical preferences are undoubtedly worth supporting. After all, it’s your body and you have to live in it - plus, while pregnant, you aren’t the only one taking up space there. 

There always can be a possible reason that discharge is making its presence known down south. There could be the occasional symptom stemming from either a miscarriage, ecoptic pregnancy or even issues involving the placenta. Of course, if at any time, you witness bright red blood or have extreme abdominal cramping accompanying it, you’ll want to contact your provider right away. 

Discharge is actually one of the mysterious and beautiful things our body creates to clean itself and to even alarm us of various internal occurrences.  Consider it a very natural and helpful process (even when it alerts you to something less than pleasing).  Consider Apele panties to help easily absorb (and monitor) daily discharge while pregnant and even when post-partum or between periods. And always call your doctor when you want guidance or reassurance. 

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