Although pregnancy is filled with joys and beauty, it’s also filled with some new and even embarrassing situations.
One example is the large amount of discharge many pregnant women experience quite frequently.
The appearance of vaginal discharge during pregnancy can come as a surprise.
Especially for first-time mothers.
Fortunately, discharge is a normal part of being pregnant. There’s also a wide range of what’s normal including yellow discharge.
For your peace of mind, here’s what you need to know about yellow discharge during pregnancy.
Discharge during pregnancy
Long before you were pregnant, you probably experienced small amounts of discharge at various times during your menstrual cycle.
The variations in discharge are due to hormonal changes throughout your cycle.
Almost all pregnant women experience discharge. It is normal and helps prevent infections from travelling from the vagina to the womb.
Towards the end of pregnancy, the amount of discharge increases further. In the last week or so, it might contain streaks of sticky, jelly-like mucus. This can be tinted pink or even pale yellow.
Check out Discharge During Pregnancy – What’s Normal and What’s Not for more information.
What is this yellow vaginal discharge in pregnancy?
Before pregnancy, you might have noticed yellowish tinted discharge. This is the result of small amounts of menstrual blood mixing with normal white discharge.
Very pale, yellow vaginal discharge is also common and usually normal, especially right before your period. It’s only a cause for concern if the discharge is also an abnormal texture or smells bad.
Yellow discharge during pregnancy, however, can be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or a bacterial infection.
Causes of yellow discharge during pregnancy include:
- Trichomoniasis – This is also known as bacterial vaginosis (BV) and causes itching, pain during urination, and an unpleasant odour.
- Chlamydia – Often it has no symptoms, but shows as a yellow discharge with a strong odour, and pain when urinating.
To avoid spreading bacteria and causing it to reoccur, after using the toilet always wipe from front to back.
See your care provider to arrange a sexually transmitted infection screen. Don’t be embarrassed. Obstetricians and gynecologists are used to it, as these infections are very common.
What is the treatment for yellow discharge?
See your health care provider for an appointment if you have yellow discharge and think it is an infection.
Try not to worry if you have pregnancy vaginal discharge.
Most of these kinds of infections during pregnancy, including those with yellow discharge, are usually easy to treat with creams, prescription creams or prescription oral medications.
Don’t delay seeing your doctor; if you leave a vaginal infection untreated, there can be complications.
Can this yellow discharge during pregnancy affect my baby?
If the yellow discharge from trichomoniasis (bacterial vaginosis) is left untreated during pregnancy, it can increase a woman’s chances of preterm labour and low birth weight.
Both of these can affect the baby’s development and overall health, and increase the time spent in the hospital after the baby is born.
What does a yellowish-green discharge mean during pregnancy?
This can also be a sign of the trichomoniasis bacteria infection, which is usually a yellow discharge during pregnancy. However, it’s possible your waters have broken and your baby has done a poo inside. This is called meconium, a black tar-like substance that fills the baby’s digestive system.
Babies usually pass this substance after birth. Meconium before birth can be a sign your baby is stressed. Either way, you should immediately call to arrange a visit to your care provider. Put on a sanitary pad on so it’s easier to see what type of discharge it is.
I have a mucus-like pink discharge – is this normal in pregnancy?
This type of vaginal discharge during pregnancy can be the beginning of your mucus plug. This is a glob of cervical mucus that sits between the fetus and the outside world.
If you have copious amounts of fluid it’s likely your waters have broken. Don’t use panty liners, but put on a sanitary pad and seek medical advice.
I have a milky white discharge in pregnancy?
This is called leukorrhea and is a normal response to your the shifting hormone levels in your body. Your estrogen levels, particularly, are higher when you are pregnant.
This kind of normal discharge can be clear to white in colour, thin or mucus-like in consistency, and have either almost no odour or a very mild non-offensive odour.
Chat with your doctor or midwife if you’re unsure about this type of discharge.
Can amniotic fluid be yellow?
Amniotic fluid should be clear in appearance. Sometimes it might be tinged with pink if your cervix is starting to change and ripen.
If the fluid is green or yellow in appearance and your waters have broken, then it’s likely your baby has pooped (meconium).
Sometimes meconium means a baby is in distress; however this is not always the case. If you are close to, or past, 42 weeks it’s more likely the meconium will be there and is normal.
Put on a sanitary pad and contact your care provider.
What colour is amniotic fluid and does it have a smell?
Amniotic fluid should be clear, but can also be pink and, as mentioned above, can also be yellow or green if meconium is present.
The amniotic fluid has a distinctive smell and experienced midwives can pick it up easily.
It is often described as an ‘earthy’ smell. Often women say it smells like sperm.
Thick white discharge in pregnancy should I see my doctor?
Thick white discharge is a sign of infection, and the most likely culprit is a yeast infection, also known as candidiasis or thrush.
It’s thought the change in hormones makes women more susceptible to yeast infection.
Women describe this discharge as being like cottage cheese in appearance. Yeast infections generally don’t have any odour, or if there is one, it is mild and yeasty.
If you’re concerned you have a yeast infection, see your healthcare provider. Obstetricians and gynecologists see these sorts of things every day, so there’s no need for embarrassment.
You can find common ‘over the counter’ treatments for yeast infections.
I have some brownish vaginal discharge – is this normal in pregnancy?
The neck of the uterus (cervix) is very vascular in pregnancy, which means there’s more blood flow to this area.
It doesn’t take much for blood cells to slough or come off, and these cells end up as a brownish discharge. Brownish discharge is old blood and usually not a problem.
Sometimes the cervical tissue bleeds from contact – for example, after sexual intercourse. You might see this brownish discharge after sex but it should settle down.
If it persists, call your doctor or midwife to arrange an antenatal check, and to ensure your cervical screen is up to date.
What colour discharge is okay in pregnancy?
During pregnancy, discharge is so varied in colour and consistency. How wonderful!
Really, the only discharge that doesn’t warrant an investigation is leukorrhea, but it can be tricky to identify that at times.
I have clear discharge have my waters broken?
It’s possible your waters have broken, or you have excessive leukorrhea, which is really just increased vaginal discharge.
Usually, if waters have broken, a single pad is not going to stem the flow. As the fluid drains, there can be copious amounts; some women will get to hospital with a towel between their legs.
What happens if my waters have broken?
If your waters have broken put on a sanitary pad. Contact your care provider for further advice.
If the fluid is clear and there are no complexities associated with your pregnancy, the best scenario is for you to wait at home for contractions to happen.
Monitor the colour and consistency of the fluid on your pad, and make sure you feel well, with no fever, and your baby is moving normally.
If there’s some concern with your pregnancy or if the baby has meconium you’ll need to go into hospital to check if the waters have broken.
You’re likely to be offered an induction if you don’t go into labour within the next few days.
Find out more in Waters Breaking – What To Do When Your Waters Break.
Alternative therapies and vaginal discharge in pregnancy
For some women, having a non-pharmaceutical treatment option is important. There are many other ways of treating vaginal discharge, if that’s what you prefer.
- Bacterial vaginosis: Apply yoghurt with Lactobacillus acidophilus to the affected area
- Candidiasis or thrush: Apply yoghurt with Lactobacillus acidophilus to the affected area, and eat garlic
Obviously don’t put anything into your vagina if your waters have broken.
Will this yellow discharge affect how I birth?
If left untreated, some yellow discharge can cause premature birth and low birth weight. This could mean that your place and time of birth will change, depending on your situation and gestation.
Will this thick white discharge in pregnancy affect my baby?
If you have thrush while you’re pregnant, it won’t harm your unborn baby. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding and you have thrush, discuss with your doctor what treatment is appropriate. You might need to treat your baby if you see symptoms.
When should I see a doctor about vaginal discharge in pregnancy?
At any time, if you feel the discharge is abnormal you should see your doctor. You might require vaginal swabs and blood tests before treatment can start.
Most of the time, discharge is normal. Sometimes it can be difficult to know and it’s best to seek guidance from your healthcare provider.
Can I refuse treatment for discharge in pregnancy?
You can refuse treatment at any time during your pregnancy, labour or birth journey. If you feel the treatment isn’t appropriate, seek a second opinion.
You have the right of autonomy over your body at all times, and care providers must always get your consent for any treatment.
You should look at current evidence and research so you can make an informed decision for you and your baby.