All you need to know about the common pregnancy symptom of vaginal discharge and what you can do about it.

You may notice around week 12 of pregnancy that your body is producing a lot more vaginal discharge. Don't be alarmed; an increase in vaginal discharge is normal during pregnancy. Here are some common questions you may have and what you can do about it:

Why is there an increase in vaginal discharge?

Normally, this discharge protects your womb from infection entering the body through the vagina. An increase in discharge is due to a combination of things that are happening in your body that are preparing for your baby's eventual birth:

  • Increased blood supply
  • Softening of the cervix and vaginal walls
  • Your baby's head pressing against the cervix when your delivery date approaches

What should healthy vaginal discharge look like?

  • It looks clear, white or creamy, and runny.
  • It has a distinctive odour but doesn't smell unpleasant.

It can be difficult at times to see if it's vaginal discharge or urine. If you're concerned, consult your doctor, especially if you suspect that it may be an infection.

How do I know if I have an infection?

Signs of infection include:

  • A thick, curd-like or greenish discharge
  • A nasty smell
  • Itchiness or soreness around the genitals
  • Pain in the lower abdominal area or during sex

What should I do if my discharge looks different?

Visit your doctor. Your doctor may take a vaginal swab to check if you have an infection. But don't worry too much! Most vaginal infections like thrush, gardnerella infection and Group B streptococcal infection can be treated with creams or antibiotics.

What can I do to prevent infections?

  • Maintain proper hygiene in the genital areas.
  • Use and change panty liners throughout the day to keep you feeling fresh.
  • Avoid vaginal douches and scented hygiene wipes, which may cause irritation and upset the delicate balance of acid and alkali in your vagina.

What if there's blood in my vaginal discharge?

Consult your doctor immediately if you're bleeding at this stage of pregnancy. If you're nearing your estimated delivery date (EDD), you may be having what doctors call "the show", which is your body's way of telling you the delivery day is near. Call your doctor!

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By Associate Professor TAN Thiam Chye Head & Senior Consultant, Dr Michelle LIM Senior O&G Resident, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KK Women's and Children's Hospital

The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth 2008, World Scientific
Healthy Start for your Pregnancy 2012, Health Promotion Board Singapore

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