pregnant woman on toilet

If you're getting more vaginal discharge now you're pregnant, you aren’t alone. Here are the answers to the most-asked questions about vaginal discharge.

Why do I get more vaginal discharge during pregnancy?

Vaginal discharge is a fluid or mucus that keeps your vagina clean and moist and prevents infection. It gets heavier during pregnancy, especially towards the end, as it helps to stop bacteria going up to the womb from the vagina (NHS Choices, 2018a). You’re also likely to get more discharge when you’re pregnant because more blood is flowing to the area.

What does vaginal discharge in pregnancy look like?

The discharge should be clear or milky white. This extra vaginal discharge in pregnancy is nothing to worry about (NHS Choices 2018a). For more information about bleeding or spotting in pregnancy, see here.

Should vaginal discharge smell different in pregnancy?

Talk to your GP or midwife if your discharge has an unpleasant smell, you feel itchy or sore, or you have pain when you wee (NHS Choices, 2018b). If your discharge changes, for example in smell, colour or texture, it might be a sign of infection (NHS Choices, 2018a)

Do I have normal pregnancy discharge or a yeast infection?

Yeast infections, which are also known as thrush, are common during pregnancy. Thrush makes vaginal discharge thick, white and cottage cheese like (NHS Choices, 2018a).

A fungus called candida, which is normally harmless, causes thrush. It tends to grow in warm, moist conditions. Thrush develops if the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina changes, which happens in pregnancy (NHS Choices, 2017).

Higher levels of oestrogen are another part of pregnancy that can make thrush more likely. Thrush during pregnancy can be treated easily, so speak to your GP or midwife to find out what help is available (NHS Choices, 2018b).

How can I stop my yeast infection coming back?

Thrush can keep coming back but a few tricks can help to see it off.

  • Avoid washing down there with soap or shower gels, wipes or feminine hygiene products.
  • Use a soap substitute for washing and just wash once a day.
  • Avoid vaginal douching, which is when people flush water up inside the vagina to wash it.
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes.
  • Consider using probiotics like live yoghurts directly where you’re feeling the symptoms of thrush. You can also eat and drink probiotics. 

    (NICE, 2017)

What can I do about my vaginal discharge?

Discharge during pregnancy is just one of the seemingly endless but normal and temporary changes that pregnancy brings. You don't need to do anything about it.

If you're finding thrush a real nuisance, you could try unscented panty liners or change your pants more often during the day.  

How do I know if it's normal discharge or the mucus plug?

The amount of discharge increases even more towards the end of your pregnancy and during the last week. It might also contain streaks of sticky, jelly-like pink mucus. This is called a ‘show’ and happens when the mucus plug that’s in your cervix during pregnancy comes away (NHS Choices, 2018a).

If you get a ‘show’, your body might be preparing for birth. Don’t get too excited or panicked though. You could have a few shows before you go into labour (NHS Choices, 2018a). If you’re worried about anything, speak to your midwife.

This page was last reviewed in April 2018.

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

For more info on the many other weird and wonderful side-effects on pregnancy, check out our symptoms page

NHS Choices. (2017) Thrush in men and women. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/thrush-in-men-and-women/ [accessed 1st March 2018].

NHS Choices. (2018a) Vaginal discharge. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaginal-discharge/ [accessed 1st March 2018].

NHS Choices. (2018b) Vaginal discharge in pregnancy. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/vaginal-discharge-pregnant/ [accessed 1st March 2018].

NICE. (2017) Candida – female genital. Available from: https://cks.nice.org.uk/candida-female-genital#!scenario:4 [accessed 1st March 2018].

Related articles

pregnant woman on toilet

Local activities and meetups

NCT Membership
Support NCT Charity by becoming a member

Courses & workshops

NCT live online antenatal course

Find out more