Why am I experiencing more vaginal discharge?

Unexpected symptoms ... increased discharge is one of many pregnancy side effects.
Unexpected symptoms ... increased discharge is one of many pregnancy side effects. 

No, it’s not your imagination – now that you’re a mum-to-be, you’re probably noticing more vaginal discharge than before. This is a common side effect of pregnancy, and is totally normal.

The discharge is caused by the higher levels of oestrogen in your body, which helps your cervical glands produce more cervical fluid. This fluid is used to create the mucus plug that will keep your baby safe in your uterus. More blood flow to the area around your vagina can also contribute to the increase in discharge.

This discharge, called leucorrhea, is usually milky or white, and should be odourless or mild-smelling. You might have noticed it when you first fell pregnant, but many women only notice it when it starts to get heavier as the pregnancy progresses. It’s most commonly noticed in the third trimester, when it’s typically heaviest.

Because tampons can cause infections, you should only ever use maternity liners to absorb the flow. Other than that, all you need to do is keep up your regular hygiene routine, wear cotton undies, and avoid tight or nylon pants.

If the discharge changes, however, it might be time to see a doctor. If it smells bad, is thick, yellow or green, or you’ve noticed you’re itchy or burning ‘down there’, you could have an infection; in that case, see a doctor as soon as you can. And if it’s red or brownish in colour, you may be experiencing spotting – read our article on bleeding in pregnancy for more.