Should you worry about watery discharge during pregnancy? Many women do. Without knowing the cause, it’s normal to be nervous or worried about the baby.
You may be wondering:
- What’s causing my discharge?
- How much discharge is normal?
- Can I do anything about it?
The good news is that all of those questions – and others you might have – have answers. Hopefully this information will put you at ease.
First, let’s look at the signs of watery discharge during pregnancy so you know if you’re actually experiencing normal discharge or something else.
Signs and Symptoms of Discharge
Medical professionals call the watery discharge you feel while pregnant, leukorrhea. Fancy name? Yes. But there’s nothing fancy about leukorrhea. You might be surprised at just how common it is.
But first, are you actually experiencing leukorrhea? Here’s how you can tell:
- Heavier than normal discharge (but still watery)
- Occurs throughout the whole pregnancy, not just at the beginning or end
- Sometimes shows up brown, pink, yellow, white, or green, but should not be thin and feel like cottage cheese
- Happens after intercourse, usually (but not always)
For the most part, any watery discharge during pregnancy is, most likely, leukorrhea. Other causes of discharge may be at play too, though. But usually, leukorrhea causes the thin, watery discharge you see during your pregnancy.
What Does Watery Discharge During Pregnancy Mean?
Here’s the thing:
Pregnant women experience a number of symptoms and signs. After all, the body goes through all sorts of changes in order to grow and deliver a baby. Many of those changes impact normal functions in the body and change them a little bit.
So in order to understand what watery discharge during pregnancy means, we need to know what’s causing it. Let’s start with the first and most common cause: leukorrhea (as described above).
If you have leukorrhea, the presence of watery discharge doesn’t mean much of anything at all, because it’s totally normal. Unless you’re showing some of the signs under the section below, “When to See a Doctor,” the watery vaginal discharge doesn’t mean that anything is wrong.
But what if leukorrhea isn’t the cause? In that case, the discharge could mean something else. Let’s look at some examples.
- Amniotic Fluid: Your body might discharge amniotic fluid toward the end of your pregnancy. Essentially, this discharge may signal that the end of your pregnancy is near (hurray) or it may not. Ultimately it depends on how much discharge occurred, what it looks like, and what your doctor thinks. If you suspect amniotic fluid, have a doctor confirm it.
- Urine: If you’ve been pregnant before, you’re already extra familiar with this scenario. Sometimes, pregnant women experience what they think is watery discharge but it’s not: it’s just urine. The bad news is that this could be embarrassing, but that’s the worst of it. The good news is that you’ll know because it will look and smell like urine.
- Yeast Infection: While common, we wouldn’t call it normal. If you experience cheese-like discharge that is either white, yellow, or light brown that itches, you should see your doctor.
- Red or Dark Brown Discharge: Watch for discharge that looks or feels like you might be in labor. Dark red or brown, watery discharge could mean pre-term labor.
When to See a Doctor
Now that you have some understanding of what watery discharge generally means, you can use the below information to help you determine if you need to see a doctor.
When your gut tells you to
First, please note that at any point during your pregnancy, if something feels off, go see your doctor. Your doctor should be the one to tell you whether or not something is worrisome. You may have a specific situation that your doctor is keeping track of. So, make sure to always keep in contact with your doctor’s office and let them know if you’re worried about something.
When your discharge is red or brown
Sometimes telling the difference between light brown or yellow and brown can be tough. Generally, reddish or brownish discharge that appears like blood (go with your gut) means something isn’t right. Normal discharge shows up clear, white, or yellowish most of the time. The color of the discharge says a lot about it. The more bold the color is, the more likely the discharge is related to an infection or possibly something else.
When your discharge is very heavy
Is the discharge soaking your underwear constantly? If so, go see your doctor. Because even if the discharge doesn’t indicate a problem, having that much discharge would be uncomfortable. Additionally, what if you can’t tell the difference between normal, watery discharge and amniotic fluid?
While you can wear pads or thick underwear to try and manage marginal amounts of discharge, talk to your doctor when discharge becomes excessive. The same advice goes for non-pregnant women. There’s a difference between manageable discharge and that which impacts your everyday life.
When your pregnancy is high risk
If you have a high risk pregnancy, you probably already know to speak with your doctor if something out of the ordinary happens. Your doctor may actually tell you to expect watery discharge during pregnancy, but if she or he doesn’t tell you, ask.
Your discharge changes color or starts to smell
Most normal watery discharge has no odor and little color. If either of those things change, you should schedule an appointment with your obstetrician. Try to pay very close attention to what your discharge feels, smells, and looks like throughout the duration of your pregnancy. Changes indicate something.
You think you might have an infection
Unfortunately, many women don’t realize they have an infection because symptoms – like discharge – tend to be similar to normal bodily functions. Look for other signs, such as inflammation, fever, odor, or a persistent itch. Watch out for symptoms like pain or trouble urinating. Any of those signs could mean you have an infection.
List of Abnormal Discharge Signs
To summarize when to see a doctor for watery discharge during pregnancy, just watch out for any of the following things.
- Very thick liquid
- Itchy vagina or discharge
- Crumbly or cheese-like texture
- Red or brown watery discharge
- Excessive, bothersome discharge
- Discharge comes with fever, vomiting, or nausea
- Changes to color, smell, and texture
Should I Be Worried About My Watery Discharge?
If your discharge shows abnormal signs and symptoms, as listed above, you should reach out to your doctor. Some changes happen as the pregnancy progresses, but some symptoms should never be ignored. Your best bet, if you’re worried, is just to reach out.
Essentially, avoid doing this:
- Assuming that if other women say it’s normal, it’s normal
- Assuming it will go away
- Waiting until your next appointment
All that does is prolong the issue or possibly make it worse. Again, most of the time, a colorless, odorless watery discharge during pregnancy means nothing bad…
…but you should always use your intuition!
Can you treat or prevent discharge during pregnancy?
Normal discharge doesn’t need to be treated.
But abnormal discharge, as described above, definitely needs to be treated or can be prevented. Here are some ways:
- Use good hygiene practices. Not only will this keep your vaginal area clean and free of bad bacteria, if you’re clean, you’ll be able to tell when something is abnormal.
- Frequently change your underwear or wear a pad. You’ll avoid turning a normal discharge situation into an infection if you regularly change your underwear or wear a pad to trap wetness.
- Get tested for infections. See a doctor for a bacterial vaginosis or yeast infection test if your discharge makes you itch. These are definitely signs of an infection, even if it’s only mild. Take probiotics or eat yogurt to cut your chances of getting a yeast infection.
- Track your symptoms. Tracking your symptoms helps you… and your doctor. Track how it feels, looks, and smells. When you notice changes, contact your doctor.
- Listen to your doctor. Pregnancy comes with all sorts of information and some of it gets lost in the details. Still, try and keep track of the instructions your doctor provides. During prenatal visits, bring a notepad and write down advice, tips, and anything else your doctor says. If your doctor provides pamphlets or brochures, read them. Not only will this give you the information you need, you might feel much better if you pick up a pamphlet and discover that what you’re experiencing is perfectly normal.
Summary and Next Steps
Here’s the bottom line:
Watery discharge – for the most part – during your pregnancy is normal and not a cause for worry.
Look for the signs mentioned above to determine if the discharge you’re experiencing is normal or not. Keep in mind that the body tells us things through symptoms, so if you listen to your body… and your gut, you should be okay. Always keep in touch with your doctor and try not to worry – worry creates issues all on its own. Try to enjoy your pregnancy but stay on top of changes and issues as they come up.