Is brown discharge during pregnancy normal?
The good news is that brown discharge during pregnancy is typically normal and most likely does not indicate that you or your unborn child have any health problems. In most cases, it’s completely harmless.
What causes brown discharge during pregnancy?
The most common cause for brown discharge is irritation. The cervix becomes extremely sensitive during pregnancy due to the hormone surge and increased blood flow throughout your body, and sexual activity or a pelvic exam can exacerbate this sensitivity. Consequently, there is some brown discharge or light spotting.
Brown discharge may also be a sign that labor is about to start if you are nearing the end of your pregnancy. You’ll lose your mucous plug, a glob of mucus that normally seals off the opening of the cervix during pregnancy, a few weeks to a few days before giving birth.
And in the days leading up to labor, you’ll probably notice “bloody show,” or discharge that is pink or brown in color and contains blood, which indicates that your baby will be born soon. Contact your healthcare provider right away if you think you’re having bloody show.
The more obvious signs of labor will vary from person to person and from pregnancy to pregnancy, but they include back or lower abdominal pain, membrane rupture, fatigue, diarrhea, and vomiting. It’s best to seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms, including the brown, bloody discharge, advises Gaither. Your contractions may feel stronger than those from a Braxton Hicks contraction if labor is progressing, according to Sekhon. Your water might not break like in the movies, but it might.
“It is not uncommon to experience all sorts of discharge near the end of pregnancy,” Megan Davidson, a Brooklyn-based doula and author of Your Birth Plan, tells Romper. “The mucus plug, for example, can begin to come out as discharge when your cervix is starting to change in preparation for birth. I’ve had clients lose parts of their mucus plug for weeks before labor and this is normal.”
As a person with a vagina, you get used to vaginal discharge happening seemingly out of the blue. Maybe it means your period is coming, or that you’re ovulating, or maybe it just means you’re human. But when you’re pregnant, every gush of fluid could be important, especially when you’re nearing the 40-week mark. In your third trimester, you may be wondering, is brown discharge a sign of labor? Read on to find out what experts say.
Brown discharge during pregnancy, especially in the latter stages, may indicate that your mucus plug has passed or is doing so, but it is not always an indication that labor is about to start. It might simply imply that your doctor recently examined your cervix to look for signs of improvement or even that you recently had sex. Romper quotes Davidson as saying, “If you’ve recently had an internal exam, the exam can cause cramping, discharge of mucus, and small amounts of bleeding, but this is not necessarily the beginning of labor.”
According to Natalie Nix, CNM, MSN, a Certified Nurse Midwife at Roswell OB/GYN in Atlanta, Georgia, who previously spoke to Romper, “An increase in vaginal discharge is common in pregnancy.” She continued, “This is how the vagina keeps itself clean in preparation for labor,” but it can still be unsettling, particularly when tinged with brown that resembles blood. Discharge is typically nothing to worry about, but always consult your doctor or nurse if it’s accompanied by pain or cramping or if something doesn’t feel right.