Tommy's PregnancyHub

Discharge in pregnancy

Having more vaginal discharge during pregnancy is common, but speak to your midwife or doctor if you are unsure about any increase or change in your vaginal discharge.

I’ve got more discharge than normal, is this okay? 

It is normal to have more vaginal discharge in pregnancy. Healthy vaginal discharge is usually thin, clear or milky white and does not smell bad.

Speak to your midwife or doctor if you are unsure about any increase or change in your vaginal discharge. 

Infection 

Call your midwife if you have vaginal discharge and: 

  • it smells bad 
  • is green, brown or yellow 
  • you feel itchy or sore around your vagina 
  • you have pain when you wee.

This may mean you have a urinary tract infection (UTI) that needs to be treated. 

Vaginal thrush

Thrush is an infection that can cause unusual vaginal discharge.  

Thrush can cause: 

  • white discharge (like cottage cheese), which does not usually smell 
  • itching and irritation around the vagina and vulva  
  • soreness and stinging during sex or when you pee 
  • redness. 

There are some thrush medications that are not suitable while you are pregnant. For example, fluconazole. Speak to your GP or midwife before using any treatments to treat thrush.   

If you have thrush when your baby is born, the baby may catch it during the delivery. This can be treated easily. 

Keeping your vagina healthy 

It’s important to maintain good vaginal health before and during pregnancy, which will help prevent infection. The vagina is self-cleaning, so you only need to use water and plain soap to wash your vagina. 

Do not use: 

  • perfumed soaps, bubble bath, shampoo or shower gel  
  • vaginal deodorants, washes or douches 
  • strong detergents to wash your underwear. 

Vaginal bleeding  

If you are bleeding in early pregnancy, contact your GP surgery or local GP walk-in service. You can also contact your nearest Early Pregnancy Unit if they offer a self-referral or walk in service. 

You can also contact NHS 111 at any time of day and they will refer to the most appropriate service. 

Some people may experience bleeding later on in their pregnancy. This does not necessarily mean there is a serious problem, but you should always contact the hospital maternity unit immediately so you can be checked, just in case. 

Read more about bleeding in pregnancy

Is it discharge or my waters breaking? 

Although it is common to have more discharge during pregnancy, call your maternity unit urgently if: 

Leaking or gushing clear or pinkish liquid before 37 weeks

This may mean that your waters have broken early (preterm prelabour rupture of membranes - PPROM). You need to phone your maternity unit immediately. 

You and your baby may be at risk of infection. You may also go into labour and deliver your baby early. 

You can read more about premature labour and birth

Leaking or gushing clear or pinkish fluid after 37 weeks 

This may mean that your waters have broken and that you may be about to go into labour. Call your maternity unit or midwife and tell them what has happened. You may not need to go to the hospital as you are unlikely to go into labour straight away, so don’t panic. You healthcare professional will note what time your waters broke and tell you what to do next. 

Read more about waters breaking after 37 weeks

NHS. Vaginal discharge. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/related-conditions/common-symptoms/vaginal-discharge/ (Page last reviewed: 31 March 2021 Next review due: 31 March 2024)

NHS. Thrush https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/related-conditions/common-symptoms/thrush/ (Page last reviewed: 1 April 2021 Next review due: 1 April 2024)

NHS. Fluconazole https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/fluconazole/ (Page last reviewed: 23 March 2020 Next review due: 23 March 2023)

NHS. Bacterial vaginosis https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bacterial-vaginosis/ (Page last reviewed: 27 October 2022 Next review due: 27 October 2025)

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gyneacologists (2019) When your waters break prematurely – patient information leaflet, https://www.rcog.org.uk/for-the-public/browse-all-patient-information-leaflets/when-your-waters-break-prematurely-patient-information-leaflet/ 

Review dates
Reviewed: 21 February 2023
Next review: 21 February 2026