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Pregnancy Discharge - Is It An Issue Of Grave Concern?

Pregnancy discharge, like all other symptoms of pregnancy, can be a cause of much concern and distress. However, it is very important to know that in the vast majority of cases, discharge is quite normal and even expected. However, there are certain instances when pregnancy discharge or pregnancy bleeding, might pose serious implications. It is therefore imperative for a woman to understand why discharge occurs during pregnancy. In any case of severe discharge or uncontrollable bleeding, an expert should be immediately consulted.

Discharge - Early Pregnancy Symptom

Discharge during the initial stages of pregnancy is one of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy. It is triggered by certain hormonal changes the pregnant body undergoes. Discharge can be categorized typically by clear/whitish mucous based discharge that doctors call “Leukorrhea”. This type of vaginal discharge is mild smelling and does not cause any irritation. This is totally normal in pregnancy. It is due to an increase in the amount of estrogen in your body and the amount of blood going to a woman’s vagina. These changes might also cause “spotting”. On an interesting note, it will also be normal if you have a baby girl and she has some white discharge. This is due to being exposed to all of Mom’s estrogen while she was pregnant.

Discharge–after childbirth

Again, this is nothing to worry about! Most women will have a small amount of discharge for up to 4-6 weeks after childbirth. This discharge also has a special name, “Lochia”. This discharge starts off red (do not be alarmed!), becomes a dark pink/light brown, and then finally yellow-white. This discharge is made up of blood, mucus, and any remaining placental tissue. By the time it is white, it is mostly just fat and mucus. This discharge is supposed to smell like normal menstrual flow (“period”). However, if there is a very strong odor, and the woman is experiencing pain in her lower abdomen after childbirth, this could be an infection of the uterus. Doctors call this infection “Endometritis” and this requires antibiotics. So make sure if you have foul smelling discharge and abdominal pain that is persistent after childbirth, you need to see your doctor.

When is discharge during pregnancy abnormal?

If you are having large amounts of discharge that is not white/clear, there is a chance you have an infection. Other signs of infection include redness, irritation, and a foul smell. So, even if there is white discharge, you should see your physician if there is a foul smell and redness and irritation. In fact, when a woman has a yeast infection, there will be white discharge but the woman will also have itching and irritation. Certain sexually transmitted diseases can also cause a greenish colored discharge. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should see your physician as soon as you can. You want to avoid any infections that can harm your child.

Early Pregnancy Bleeding

Pregnancy discharge and bleeding are related during pregnancy and are the result of changes in the production of hormones. Estrogen causes lots of changes to a woman’s body, including increased blood to the pelvis and vagina. Spotting is extremely common and totally normal in most women. However, there are a few cases where bleeding in pregnancy can cause concern.

You are at greatest risk for a miscarriage and medical threat to your baby during your first trimester. This is why it is common for many women not to tell their friends and family they are pregnant until after they have made it through the first trimester. If you ever see the passage of anything that looks like grapes or something has a solid consistency – you may have passed the embryonic tissue (a miscarriage). Often times, this is not painful and you may not realize it until you sit down to use the bathroom or change your clothes. If you see something resembling grapes, you should go visit a health professional to check to see if you are still pregnant. The two tests the doctor will do are a special kind of urine pregnancy test (similar to the one you use to find out you are pregnant) and an ultrasound. If you have had a miscarriage, it will be very important that the doctors make sure all parts of the embryo have come out. The health of the mother can be at risk if you do not check to make sure all of it has come out.

If a woman does experience severe pain in addition to vaginal bleeding, this might be a medical emergency and you should see your doctor immediately. It might be normal, but there is a chance you may have what doctors call an “ectopic pregnancy”. In normal pregnancy, the fertilized egg (embryo) is supposed to implant in the uterus. The uterus is where the baby is supposed to grow and develop. However, during an ectopic pregnancy, the embryo implants in the fallopian tube which is way too small for the baby to develop in. Unfortunately, this baby will not make it. The doctors will have to go and take the embryo out because this is a significant medical emergency to the mother. If they do not get this taken care of, the mother may lose the chance to ever have children if the ectopic pregnancy damages the fallopian tubes.

Late Pregnancy Bleeding

Bleeding at the end of pregnancy is much different than bleeding at the beginning of pregnancy, and can be caused by a number of things. Whereas bleeding early in pregnancy is usually entirely normal or a something that is not an emergency, you have to be very aware of bleeding late in pregnancy. Bleeding in the third trimester is usually due to a problem with the Placenta. The placenta is what connects the baby to the mother – it is the lifeline. If something is wrong with the placenta, the baby may not get enough oxygen or food and water.

Bleeding late in pregnancy requires that you immediately go to the hospital because it may be the beginning of labor. There are also causes of bleeding late in pregnancy that would require a caesarean section – sometimes emergently. It is possible you may have something called “Placenta Previa” where the placenta is covering the cervix, which is the opening of the uterus. The baby can not be delivered from the vagina. It may also be something called “placental abruption”, which is a medical emergency. In this case, the baby may be cut off completely or partially from the lifeline (placenta). Smoking actually is one of the most common causes! So pregnant moms can not smoke! Not only can you hurt your baby’s lungs, but there is a chance for placental abruption. You can also get this if you deliver a baby from the vagina after you have previously had a caesarean section. Make sure you give your doctor who is delivering your baby your full medical and birth history.

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