Four things that drip, itch, leak, spot and discharge during pregnancy that could signal labor or a problem (but are probably no big deal.)
It's the little things that really get us worked up. Things like a weird discharge, a spot of blood, a wet pair of underwear or an annoying itch that just won't go away. These little things create big worries for a lot of mothers and are the source of many emails I receive from women all over the world. Let's tick these off our TMI (Too Much Information) list one at a time:
Nothing is scarier than bleeding when we're not supposed to. Countless women have a little spotting in their first trimester, after sex or a pelvic exam or late in pregnancy. Most of the time, it's not a problem. The reasons why women spot early in pregnancy are usually because of implantation bleeding (the fertilized egg imbeds into the uterine lining), cervical irritation or for no darn good reason that anyone can figure out.
Spotting later in pregnancy is usually related to having extra blood volume and circulating hormones that make it easy to break tiny blood vessels in the cervix. Late pregnancy spotting is sometimes a sign that labor is on its way (bloody show) and sometimes…not. Whenever you have spotting, let your midwife or doctor know and then do your best to not worry. I know what you're thinking – "What if I'm miscarrying?" About 20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, most of them before we know we're pregnant. That means 80% don't. If it's only a little bit of blood, you're more than likely in that 80%.
2. Wet underwear
Could it be your water bag breaking? Possible, but not as likely as it is to be urine. If you felt a big gush, made a splash, it's running down your leg or dribbles constantly in fits and spurts, let your practitioner know and they'll run some tests.
If it's a random wet spot, don't worry about it. You just wet your pants a little. Join the club. We all did it…few of us admit it.
3. Weird discharge
it's thick, sticky, and looks a lot like mucous and most of the time it's entirely normal. The vagina is working overtime, making normal vaginal discharge gunk to keep the cervix moist, sealed and healthy. Sometimes body heat will liquefy it and it comes out in a larger quantity than we're used to. If it's chunky, a weird color, smells bad or makes your vagina itchy or irritated, see your doctor or midwife. You could have an infection.
If you don't have those symptoms though, your vagina's just doing her job. If it's late in your pregnancy and stuff comes out that looks like boogers, you might be losing your mucous plug. Sometimes it comes out in one disgusting blob, but often it comes out in bits and pieces…just to drag the glamour out. Are you about to go into labor? Maybe…maybe not. Time will tell.
4. Yeast infections
You have a white or yellowish vaginal discharge that's chunky, thick or resembles cottage cheese. You itch like crazy and might even have a little spotting from your vagina being irritated. Those are classic signs of a yeast infection.
Yeast live on your body and in your vagina all the time, but pregnancy creates the perfect conditions for yeast to breed like mad. Once they've claimed total world domination, symptoms appear. Call your provider and describe your symptoms. She might recommend you come in for a lab test, but might also say, "go to the drug store and buy some yeast infection medicine." Then, dial down the sugar content of your diet (yeast love sugar), make sure you change your underwear frequently or better yet…go Commando (no undies at all) and let the fresh air get all up in there and dry things out.
I know…it's ridiculous for me to say, "don't worry." You're going to worry anyway. It's your job…you're a mom.