Pregnancy Discharge Color: White, Yellow, Pink, Brown, and Green – What Does It Mean?

Pregnancy Discharge Color: White, Yellow, Pink, Brown, and Green
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Vaginal discharge during pregnancy is completely normal and it’s just one of the changes that happens when you’re pregnant. Pregnancy discharge color should be a milky white color or colorless with no odor. You may notice that as your pregnancy progresses, the consistency, thickness, and amount of pregnancy discharge varies.

You may wonder what it means if your pregnancy discharge color changes. For example, should you be worried if you notice yellow, greenish, pink, or brown discharge during any of your trimesters? It can sometimes be difficult to know if changes to vaginal discharge in pregnancy means that everything is normal or if there is a cause for concern.

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Along with discolored pregnancy discharge, you may have other symptoms that can help to identify the reason for the discharge. For example, vaginal itching, redness and swelling around the labia, stinging sensation when you pee, or a fishy odor along with discharge in pregnancy can mean that you have an infection. Sometimes, pink or brown colored discharge could be accompanied by light to severe abdominal cramping. Usually, if you have any of those symptoms along with off-colored vaginal discharge, you should speak to your obstetrician.

In this article, I will look at what doctors say about the causes of abnormal discharge during pregnancy. This will help to determine what a normal pregnancy discharge is and what’s not normal. In some cases, natural home remedies will help to improve the health of your vagina and return pregnancy discharge back to its normal color.

Normal Discharge in Early Pregnancy

It’s natural that pregnancy discharge increases in amount and becomes thicker in pregnancy. Normal vaginal discharge is called leukorrhea and is a white or milky thin mucus-like fluid that may have a mild odor.

In early pregnancy, your body starts producing more hormones to prepare for the birth of your baby. Also, changes in your cervix during the 3 trimesters cause your body to produce more discharge. This helps to prevent infections and keeps you and your baby healthy throughout pregnancy.

Let’s look briefly at what kind of normal pregnancy discharge you can expect in each of your trimesters.

Pregnancy discharge color during the first trimester

One of the first signs that you are pregnant may be the appearance of implantation bleeding which happens in around one-quarter of pregnant women. This is a light pink discharge or spotting that happens about 6 to 12 days after ovulation. Implantation bleeding occurs when the fertilized egg implants itself on the wall of the uterus. This results in spotting that has a light pink color and will only last a few days.

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Dr. Pamela Dyne on eMedicineHealth says that some light vaginal spotting in the first 3 months of pregnancy can happen. For many women this is normal and nothing to worry about. However, you should still speak to your healthcare provider about it.1

According to OB-GYN Dr. Trina Pagano, as soon as conception occurs, your body starts producing more vaginal fluid. This happens as the vaginal walls thicken, and the amount of white milky discharge will continue to increase throughout pregnancy.2

White pregnancy discharge in the second trimester

During your second trimester, normal pregnancy discharge will continue to have a whitish color.

Dr. Traci Johnson on WebMD says that it’s normal to see leukorrhea in larger amounts during your second trimester. Wearing a panty liner can help make you more comfortable; however, you should avoid wearing tampons.3

Pink or brown discharge during the second trimester is not considered normal and you should speak to your doctor about any abnormal pregnancy discharge.

Pregnancy discharge color in the third trimester

In your third trimester, you should expect to see an increase in normal pregnancy discharge as your body prepares for birth. However, according to Dr. Traci Johnson on WebMD, there shouldn’t be so much pregnancy discharge that it soaks through a panty liner.4

As you approach your delivery date, it’s normal to see pregnancy discharge with tinges of blood in it. This is referred to as your mucus plug and the discharge is called “show discharge” or “bloody show.” It is normal that you have discharge with streaks of blood in it as it shows that your body is preparing for labor.4

Dr. Johnson advises that if you have a sudden rush of vaginal fluid, it means that your water has broken. This usually happens after contractions have started.

Clear Discharge During Pregnancy

Clear thin discharge during pregnancy means that you have a normal, healthy pregnancy. White or clear vaginal discharge helps to keep your vagina, uterus, and urinary tract free of infection.

According to doctors from the National Health Service, nearly all pregnant women experience an increase in clear, thin vaginal discharge. The amount of vaginal discharge increases as your pregnancy progresses.5

It is possible that near the end of pregnancy, your vaginal discharge becomes so thin and watery and you could mistake it for urine.

Pink or Brown Discharge While Pregnant

Pink or brown discharge can sometimes happen early on in pregnancy because of changes to your cervix. The pink color comes as changes in your cervix causes small amounts of blood in your vaginal discharge.

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Dr. Wayne Blocker on MedicineNet says that normal pink discharge in early pregnancy should be no more than a few spots on a pad or panty liner. You may notice pink spotting more frequently after sexual intercourse or a pelvic examination. This can sometimes be a reason for pink or brown spotting in the second or third trimester.6

Doctors from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation say that brown discharge is often old blood. This can also occur in early pregnancy and is associated with implantation spotting. In fact, because implantation can happen near your expected period, you may mistake this pink or brown discharge as the start of your period.11

Vaginal bleeding during early pregnancy or later on in pregnancy could be a sign of something more serious. Dr. Blocker says that some reasons for vaginal bleeding include:

  • An infection that causes bleeding along with yellowish or green discharge and a foul odor.
  • A miscarriage that causes abnormal pregnancy bleeding, abdominal pain, and lower back pain.
  • An ectopic pregnancy where mild vaginal bleeding is accompanied by increased abdominal pain.

If you are pregnant, you should always speak to your obstetrician or gynecologist about your symptoms. Dr. Blocker says that 2 reasons to speak to your OB-GYN about symptoms of potential pregnancy complications are:

  • Bleeding like you are having a menstrual period
  • Abdominal pain that is more than occasional mild cramps that happen as your uterus expands

Near the end of pregnancy, discharge that looks pink or has streaks of blood in thick mucus can indicate that your body is preparing for birth. According to doctors from the National Health Service, you may have a few “shows” in the days before you give birth.18

Yellow Discharge During Pregnancy

Yellow discharge while being pregnant may mean that you have a bacterial infection and need to see your OB-GYN. Yellow discharge is not considered normal during pregnancy.

According to information published in the journal BMJ, yellow vaginal discharge during pregnancy can be a sign of an infection. Along with the frothy-looking yellow fluid, you may have signs of redness and soreness around the vaginal opening, itching, and pain when urinating. A complication of a vaginal bacterial infection during pregnancy can be going into labor before your due date.7

One reason for yellowish discharge while present is bacterial vaginosis (BV). Dr. Sarah Marshall on WebMD says that BV is caused by an imbalance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in your vagina. This infection can cause vaginal discharge that is grayish or yellow. You may notice that there is a fishy smell along with the discharge.8

According to the American Pregnancy Association, up to 30% of pregnant women will suffer from bacterial vaginosis during their pregnancy. It’s important to get the proper treatment for BV as, if left untreated, it can result in preterm labor, miscarriage, or low birth weight.9

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Green Discharge While Pregnant

Noticing green discharge with a strong odor during pregnancy could mean that you have an infection and need to speak to your doctor about your abnormal pregnancy discharge.

Green vaginal discharge during pregnancy often means that the bacterial infection has become more severe. The book Antenatal Care: Routine Care for the Healthy Pregnant Woman says that green discharge with an unpleasant odor that causes itching and vaginal pain is often caused by bacterial vaginosis.10

Another reason for greenish discharge that smells bad is contracting Trichomonas vaginalis. This is a sexually transmitted disease that causes a greenish-yellow discharge that looks frothy. As with other bacterial vaginal infections, pain when peeing, itching around the vulva, and signs of inflammation of the vagina are often present.10

Prompt medical care is needed if you are pregnant and have yellow-green discharge and other signs of a vaginal bacterial infection.

White Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy

There are a number of reasons for white vaginal discharge during pregnancy, and noticing the accompanying symptoms can help to identify the cause.

As already mentioned, white milky-looking sticky vaginal discharge with no odor is completely normal during pregnancy. You will notice that this type of normal vaginal pregnancy discharge increases in volume and changes in consistency.

Thick white discharge when pregnant could be a sign of a vaginal yeast infection. Yeast infections during pregnancy are very common and can cause a lot of discomfort in your genitals. According to doctors from the American Pregnancy Association, a vaginal yeast infection can cause the following symptoms:12

  • Thick white vaginal discharge that has a cottage cheese-like consistency
  • A distinct smell of yeast (although sometimes there is no odor)
  • Vaginal discomfort like itching, pain when urinating, irritation, and swelling around the labia
  • Increase of white pregnancy discharge

One other reason for abnormal white vaginal discharge that has a bad smell is bacterial vaginosis. The American Pregnancy Association says that bacterial vaginosis can cause a whitish or gray colored pregnancy discharge. Along with the grayish discharge, you will have irritation around the vaginal opening and notice a bad odor from the discharge.9

Frequently Asked Questions about Discharge during Pregnancy

If you are pregnant, you may have many questions about what kind of discharge is normal during pregnancy. Because every pregnancy is different and every woman experiences different symptoms, it can be difficult to know what is normal for you.

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What kind of discharge is normal in early pregnancy?

Doctors from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say that normal discharge in early pregnancy should be almost odorless and clear to white. It is normal to have more vaginal discharge throughout all your stages of pregnancy.13

As long as the pregnancy discharge has no strong smell or abnormal color, you don’t have anything to worry about.

What does early pregnancy discharge look like and feel like?

Early pregnancy discharge may look like raw egg white and also feel similar. The pregnancy discharge should look clear to white and have a sticky feel to it.

According to doctors from the American Pregnancy Association, near the time of ovulation, discharge becomes like egg white. This is sometimes referred to as egg white cervical mucus. If you conceive and implantation occurs, your body will continue to produce a thin, white sticky mucus during your pregnancy.14

How do you know if you are leaking amniotic fluid?

Amniotic fluid is the protective fluid in your uterus that supports your baby as it grows. In the later stages of pregnancy, it can be difficult to know if you are leaking amniotic fluid or if you are passing urine.

Leaking amniotic fluid can happen if you experience a premature rupture of membranes. The Journal of Perinatal Medicine says that by the third trimester, amniotic fluid is colorless and moderately cloudy. So, one way to tell if you are leaking amniotic fluid is to examine the color of the fluid. Urine will be a light to dark yellow color.15

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that unlike leaking urine, which happens sporadically, leaking amniotic fluid will result in a constant leak or drip of colorless fluid. This might be felt if you notice a “gush” of pale yellow or clear fluid. You may also notice that you have constant dampness in your underwear.16

If you suspect that you are leaking amniotic fluid prematurely or you suspect that your waters have broken, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Is thick discharge in pregnancy normal?

Thick discharge during pregnancy is not considered normal because it is often a sign of a vaginal yeast infection. Dr. Kathleen Romito on WebMD says that vaginal yeast infections during pregnancy aren’t dangerous, however, they will cause vaginal discomfort.

Dr. Romito advises speaking with your doctor about abnormal discharge during pregnancy. You should also discuss with your doctor before trying any home remedies for vaginal yeast infections if you are pregnant.17

When to See a Doctor for Abnormal Discharge During Pregnancy

Although increased vaginal discharge is normal during pregnancy, any kind of mucus or discharge that looks off-color or has a strong offensive odor could be a sign of something serious.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic advise that you see your obstetrician or gynecologist for abnormal discharge that has the following symptoms:

Even if you are near your due date when pinkish discharge is normal, you should still speak to your health care provider to make sure that this is indeed a “bloody show.”

Read my other related articles:

Medical Sources

  1. eMedicineHealth. Bleeding during pregnancy.
  2. WebMD. Pregnancy symptoms.
  3. WebMD. Second trimester of pregnancy.
  4. WebMD. Third trimester of pregnancy.
  5. NHS. Vaginal discharge and pregnancy.
  6. MedicineNet. Bleeding during early pregnancy.
  7. BMJ. 2007 Dec 1; 335(7630): 1147–1151.
  8. WebMD. Bacterial vaginosis.
  9. AmericanPregnancy. Bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy.
  10. NCBI. Antenatal care.
  11. PAMF. Vaginal discharge.
  12. AmericanPregnancy. Yeast infections during pregnancy.
  13. ACOG. Vulvovaginal health.
  14. AmericanPregnancy. Cervical mucus and your fertility.
  15. J Perinat Med.1976;4(1):12-25.
  16. MayoClinic. Water breaking.
  17. WebMD. Vaginal yeast infection during pregnancy.
  18. NHS. Is it normal to have discharge during pregnancy?
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