Brown Discharge During Pregnancy

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During pregnancy, everything about our body, just as we know it, goes through a lot of changes. Changes can be concerning both physical and mental. As our body gets ready to be the host of a baby, the hormones in our system fluctuate. Brown discharge during pregnancy is one such change that women experiences. 

There is a change in color of the discharge emitting out from the female’s reproductive organ. Different colors of vaginal discharge during pregnancy 1 give cues about your health.

The brownish color of the gooey vaginal discharge is usually normal and harmless.

But when other symptoms such as itching and cramps also occur then it can be a reason to worry.

Here is a detailed study compiled just for you…

What is brown discharge?

Vaginal discharge can be of different color and thickness; some may be white and thin, some may be brown or red. The brown colored discharge is the one that terrifies most women.

Brown discharge is the old blood mixed with cervical mucus. The consistency of discharge can be thick or thin, but the color is the marker.

Brown mucus discharge during pregnancy is a normal occurrence. Women without much exception suffer a panic attack upon the sight of blood.

But brown vaginal discharge only means that old blood is coming along with the cervical mucus.

Fresh blood is always red or in lighter shades depending on the hemoglobin content and other factors.

Pregnant women can suffer temporary anemia and have low hemoglobin levels. Thus only after clotting occurs the color of blood changes to darker shades such as brown or even black.

Brown mucus discharge is a common reproductive event and women not pregnant also experience it.

What is brown discharge during pregnancy?

Brown discharge during pregnancy is old blood or fresh blood coming along with cervical discharge.

During pregnancy, the cause of brown mucus changes but the symptoms of brown discharge remain similar. Brown vaginal discharge during pregnancy is also a sign of infections.

Chaunie Brusie, RN BSN, 2 mentions blood like discharge in pregnancy a normal part.

You will also have other symptoms like itching along with brownish vaginal discharge during pregnancy infections.

Brown vaginal discharge during late pregnancy is a sign of labor.

Brown Discharge During Pregnancy
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Brown Discharge During Pregnancy

How does brown discharge look?

Brown discharge looks like old blood. Just like blood gets darker when you get a cut, brown discharge receives a brown tinge. Depending upon the cause such as implantation or threatened miscarriage there can be blood clots in BD.

The way brown discharge looks during pregnancy helps diagnose the cause. Brown vaginal discharge during pregnancy looks like clumps of blood and mucus.

When does the brown discharge occur?

It usually occurs during the early stages of pregnancy, at several times during the first trimester.

The discharge usually also takes place during the process when the embryo implants in the lining of the uterus. This process is implantation, and red or brown discharge takes place during this period.

Ongoing implantation, brown discharge continues for 2-3 days and then stops on its own and is usually odorless and without any discomfort.

Anna Druet 3 in her post about Normal Vaginal discharge pointed out luteal phase a fragile time. A normal routine discharge is like a white paste.

Luteal phase after ovulation, in your menstrual cycle is when you can get atypical discharge. That is the same time as between missing period and knowing that you are pregnant .

If otherwise then brown discharge during pregnancy is not healthy.

Why does brown discharge occur?

It is the old blood that discharges along which makes vaginal mucus brown.

The blood in your uterus might not have been able to come out, and with time its color changed to brown.

It can also take place during the implantation process on the lining of the uterus.

Yen Tran, OB – Gyn from Orange Coast Medical Centre, Fountain Valley, California, describes implantation bleeding as pinkish rusty old brown blood discharge 4.

An important question is whether brown colored discharge during the early weeks of pregnancy safe. One needs to know its significance for the pregnancy and baby.

Why does brown discharge occur during pregnancy?

Brown discharge occurs during pregnancy because of many reasons:

Is the brown discharge normal during pregnancy?

Vaginal discharge is symbolic of a healthy and apt functioning of a female reproductive organ.

It is healthy if it occurs without any discomfort, the color may vary according to the changes taking place inside the body.

Brown vaginal discharge is completely normal during pregnancy. It occurs mostly in the first trimester of pregnancy or during the early weeks of conception.

In some cases, the brown discharge is also an indication that labor is around the corner and that the delivery of the baby is imminent.

But if the brown discharge continues for more than a few weeks accompanied by some discomfort, you should consult a doctor.

Causes of the brown discharge during pregnancy:

  • Implantation bleeding is brown and very scanty. Brown discharge might take place when a fertilized egg gets attached to the lining of the uterus.
  • During pregnancy the hormonal level changes which make the area around the vagina and cervix very itchy and irritable. Due to the fluctuations of hormones, the area can become sensitive.
  • Irritation of the cervix due to sexual intercourse can also cause BD during pregnancy. The cervix has extensive blood supply pooling in during pregnancy that makes it very sensitive.
  • Cervical or vaginal infection can be a cause of brown discharge.
  • Brown discharge might be an indication that labor and delivery are around the corner. When you cross the 36 or 38-week pregnancy, the mucus plug can come off. The loosening of cervix allows brown or pinkish brown discharge to come out.
  • Miscarriage is also a reason for brown discharge during pregnancy.
What causes brown discharge during pregnancy?
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What causes brown discharge during pregnancy?

Complications and reasons to worry about brown discharge during pregnancy

  • Miscarriage: In sporadic cases, a brown discharge may also mean that there is a miscarriage. If heavy brown discharge continues for a few days, along with extreme discomfort and pain, consult a doctor.
  • Ectopic pregnancy: It is a severe condition and another one of the causes of brown vaginal discharge. Usually, a fertilized egg gets attached to the lining of the uterus where its development starts. But in the case of ectopic pregnancy, the development of the embryo begins in the fallopian tube. This condition can cause a threat to the lives of both the baby and the mother. Stomach pain and cramps can be an indicator of such a situation.
  • Infection and inflammation: Brown discharge can occur in the case of vaginal infection that can cause harm to the baby. Mommies may feel itchiness and irritated.
  • Placental abruption: During this, the placenta gets separated from the uterus prematurely, this causes the vagina to bleed.

What to do after you see brown discharge? There is no need to worry about BD if it occurs without pain. It is recommendable that one sees a doctor if brown discharge happens for more than three days.

Different types of brown discharge during pregnancy

1) Light brown discharge during pregnancy

Light brown discharge during pregnancy is a sign of implantation. When implantation starts, you will see a light brown discharge. But even if it doesn’t occur there is nothing to worry. An occurrence of light brown discharge is not a sign of any infection. Normal internal bleeding leads to light brown vaginal discharge.

2) Pinkish brown discharge during pregnancy

Fresh blood is pinkish red in some women. When this blood comes along with vaginal discharge, it is a sign of bleeding. It is because of implantation and occurs during the early stage. Pinkish brown discharge during pregnancy may occur after a cervical examination. The cervix becomes very sensitive during pregnancy. Wearing very tight undergarments can cause reddish brown discharge during pregnancy.

3) Dark brown discharge during pregnancy

Dark BD may appear as clots of old blood coming from the vagina. It may be the menstrual blood that was inside. Subchorionic blood leaks in the layer under the placenta upon hemorrhage. Dark brown vaginal discharge, itching, and rashes are symptoms of infection. If you had unprotected sex and experience itching, it could be a disease. Gonorrhea, genital warts, and Herpes have a sign of brown discharge.

Different types of brown discharge during pregnancy
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Different types of brown discharge during pregnancy

Brown discharge during pregnancy

Stage of pregnancyFirst trimesterSecond trimesterThird trimester
Reasons for brown dischargeImplantation, Yeast infection, air embolism during oral sex, breakout bleeding, period bloodSensitivity of cervix, baby’s movements, low placenta, sub chorionic bloodLabor onset, mucus plug fall off, placental abruption, infections
Symptoms of BD during pregnancyPainless discharge that continues for a day or twoRandom spotting, brown discharge on tissue swap, gooey discharge in knickersItching, contractions of uterus, cramps, pain on one side of abdomen
What should you do?Wait for 2 days until it stops, take rest and avoid strainBe careful about hygiene of the area, inform doctor if any abnormal pain occursGet a medical check up and go for the follow up

‌Brown discharge early pregnancy

During early pregnancy, brown vaginal discharge is a common symptom. The intensity and amount of discharge vary depending on the course of pregnancy covered. While for some women it may be brown discharge spotting others may have a dark vaginal discharge.

There is a misconception that brown discharge is a sign of impending miscarriage. Dark brown vaginal discharge may come after a miscarriage but is not a sign of it.

Brown discharge in early pregnancy is because of implantation bleeding and sensitivity of the cervix.

  • Implantation bleeding occurs after 3–4 days from fertilization. It is the bleeding due to attachment of embryo in the uterus. Usually a localized mild pain or cramps occur as a symptom. The reason why vaginal discharge in early pregnancy may become brown is because of old blood or IB.
  • The Sensitivity of the cervix is because of the increased blood flow to the region during pregnancy. The cervical region, labia, and vagina become very sensitive and dilate during pregnancy. Your doctor might check up these areas, or you might wash them, and it may bleed. In this case, your discharge will become brown.

Brown discharge at eight weeks pregnant

Different vaginal discharges become common as spotting during pregnancy. During the later stages of pregnancy undoubtedly you don’t menstruate.

The old blood or blood from internal wear and tear comes off. It is the brown vaginal discharge during pregnancy 8 weeks.

During pregnancy your vaginal discharge increases in amount. It is why brown gooey discharge is common during pregnancy.

Brown discharge after two months pregnancy is nothing to worry about. There are reasons for brown discharge other than pregnancy too.

Brown discharge during pregnancy 10 weeks

Brown discharge after two and a half months after pregnancy may also occur after intercourse. Your vagina is extremely sensitive during pregnancy.

If you see brown vaginal discharge after having sex during pregnancy, you need not worry as it is only vaginal bleeding.

Normal events like bleeding or cramps can be signs that you need your doctor. Spotting with pain may be becauseyou are having an infection.

Yeast infection outbreaks are common during pregnancy. It is because of the extra moisture present in the cervical area. Some experts say that gray discharge occurs in bacterial vaginosis infection instead of BD.

‌Brown discharge during pregnancy first trimester

Brown spotting in pregnancy occurs after the embryo moves inside the uterine lining. The placenta soon begins forming. Before the production of placental hormones old blood flows off.

Reasons for brown discharge during the first trimester:

  • Brown discharge in the first-trimester pregnancy is because of implantation.
  • Spotting or BD in pregnancy first few weeks could be because of yeast infection
  • Rough sex or blowing air in the vagina can cause brown vaginal discharge during pregnancy.

Brown discharge during pregnancy second trimester

Brown discharge in second-trimester pregnancy is because of heightened sensitivity of vagina. Cervical exam and other checkups are common.

Also, the amount of mucus plugging the vagina increases. If a woman doesn’t maintain her hygiene, she can get many infections which may result in foul odor brownish discharge from cervix.

Reasons for brown discharge during pregnancy second trimester

  • A cervical exam can cause bleeding and brownish discharge during pregnancy
  • Irritation of the uterus lining due to baby’s vigorous movements
  • Old blood remaining in the uterus can come off vagina
  • Blood accumulated under the placenta can come off as brown vaginal discharge during pregnancy

‌Brown discharge during pregnancy third trimester

During pregnancy 3rd trimester, the brown discharge has the same reasons as first two trimesters.

Another event in late pregnancy is the loss of the mucus plug from the cervix. The mucus plug seals the vagina in the early months of pregnancy. When parturition is near the mucus plug falls off.

The old blood might come along the vaginal discharge. It is the brown vaginal discharge during third-trimester pregnancy.

If you see brown discharge near the due date of delivery, you must inform the doctor. Even if it happens earlier, it may be a sign of premature delivery. Brown discharge in pregnancy third trimester requires medical attention.

However, brown discharge in the early third trimester of pregnancy doesn’t indicate any major change.

Brown discharge during late pregnancy

Brown discharge during late pregnancy confirms the onset of labor. The process of mucus plug falling off is also called as the water break.

Gradually hormones signaling parturition start releasing from the brain. The muscles of the uterus will start moving with violent spasms. Eventually, you will have labor pains.

Doctors suggest pregnant women be vigilant of brown discharge during the last days of pregnancy.

As the placenta and amniotic sac accumulate a lot of fluid, it becomes heavy. The blood vessels can crush under pressure and thus lead to internal bleeding. This is dangerous for the baby and you.

Brown vaginal discharge during late pregnancy is a symptom of many things. One should never ignore brown discharge during late pregnancy.

Brown discharge with a low placenta

If you have a low lying placenta, the blood vessels might rupture and cause internal bleeding under pressure. A low lying placenta leaves very less subchorionic space.

Pregnant women with low lying placenta have to take extra precaution. As pregnancy progresses, more fluids accumulate there.

All this causes frequent internal bleeding. This changes the cervical discharge to pinkish brownish discharge during pregnancy. Later this becomes dark brown discharge during pregnancy.

This is the reason why women with low lying placenta sleep with their legs raised with pillows.

In this case, brown vaginal discharge during pregnancy needs immediate medical assistance.

If your doctor diagnosed a low lying placenta, then you must never ignore a brown discharge.

Dark brown discharge with low placenta is a sign of excessive internal bleeding.

Brown discharge during pregnancy: Could it be UTI?

  • Brown mucus discharge during pregnancy with pain and swelling indicate urinary tract infections. Yeast infections are common during pregnancy. Pathological vaginal discharge during pregnancy may be a sign of infection.
  • If you have had a history of sexually transmitted diseases, then brown discharge during pregnancy can be due to relapse. Similarly, if your partner recently had Herpes infection and you get brown discharge after sex, it hints infection.
  • Brown gooey discharge is a sign of urinary tract infections. Smelly discharge during pregnancy is a symptom of STDs.

When to see a doctor for brown discharge during pregnancy?

Although brown discharge is normal during pregnancy, it may be a sign of disease. If you experience the listed symptoms along with brown vaginal discharge during pregnancy, then see a doctor.

  • Pain and burning sensation in the vaginal area
  • Heavy bleeding or brown discharge
  • Brown discharge with pus during pregnancy
  • Gooey brown discharge during pregnancy
  • Foul smelling brown discharge
  • Yellowish brown discharge during pregnancy

Whether pregnant or not, you can’t forget the sight of a sanitary napkin after an entire day. Those of us who change sanitary napkins less often or who get heavy bleeding see a reddish brown pad. That looks like a pinkish-brown discharge too, but it is not.

Brown discharge during pregnancy is distinct because it is not stringy brown discharge.

Stringy brown discharge is characteristic of ovulation. During pregnancy brownish discharge is more dense and thick.

Brown discharge During Pregnancy Complications

In a controlled study, it was found that 55% women suffer from post-partum depression who had pathological vaginal discharge 5. Other conclusions from the same study showed that vaginal discharge during pregnancy was prevelant in anemic women.

Nutritional status of mother affects the vaginal health and later stages of gestation. Mothers who have had vaginal discharge in the previous pregnancies are more prone to such a preggo problem.

How to avoid brown discharge during pregnancy?

Progestin only, long acting reversible contraception pLARC are effective in preventing pregnancy. However, upon occurrence of abnormal uterine bleeding AUB, these methods fail 6. AUB is discontinuous and along discharge will not look like blood flow. A pregnant woman having AUB can face severe complications such as preclampsia, premature delivery, hemorrhoids, and abruption.

Brown discharge in early pregnancy 4 weeks is a sign. The stage comes so early that often women assume that it’s implantation bleeding. Light brown mucus discharge during early pregnancy can give you a bigger picture than you’d gauge.

Footnotes

  1.  https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323433.php
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/pinkish-brown-discharge
  3. https://helloclue.com/amp/articles/cycle-a-z/what-is-normal-vaginal-discharge
  4. https://www.memorialcare.org/about/pressroom/media/what-color-implantation-bleeding-experts-explain-2017-11-10
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3703429/#!po=1.42857
  6. The role of decidual cells in uterine hemostasis, menstruation, inflammation, adverse pregnancy outcomes and abnormal uterine bleeding: Hum Reprod Update. 2016 Jun; 22(4): 497–515, Frederick Schatz, Ozlem Guzeloglu-Kayisli, Sefa Arlier, Umit A. Kayisli, and Charles J. Lockwood, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Morsani College of Medicine, University of Florida, Tampa https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4917742/#__ffn_sectitle  

33 COMMENTS

  1. What cause brown discharge? I took tissue and gt very thick dark brown discharge in pregnancy. M in second trimsstr. Wat to do when brown discharge thick. I hs sex wit husbnd n thn I see brown spotting in panty. My period due on 25 dec and 29 dec and 14 Weeks pregnant. M confused about spotting of brown color. Early it was pink color discharge and very little.

  2. My period late, I take pt but negative. Then i c brown discharge. Can I pregnant because of bd? Wht is sign of pregnancy as brown discharge. Brown discharge cab be because of disease. Bd because I hv unprotected sex and did not get period.

  3. This article is really helpful. I have read many articles on brown discharge during pregnancy. But this one is the most comprehensive!

  4. I am 7 week preganat having dark brown discharge for 8 days and still continue I am really scared plz help me is everything fine?

  5. I am 7week pregnant having light brown discharge for 1day and still continue. Please help me, I am really scared.

    • Brown discharge occurs during pregnancy. Old period blood, hormone changes, yeast infection, spotting. Consult a doctor if it occurs for more than two days. Check for signs like cramping or sharp pain in uterus while spotting.

  6. I’ve been diagnosed with low placenta and have had light brown discharge for 5 days. Three day prior I had dark brown to red , that’s when I was diagnosed . I am 14 weeks. My OB is saying it’s normal, but I feel concerned. It increases as I’m on my feet longer. I had an ultrasound 5 days ago and baby was good, I’m going in three days to hear the heartbeat again.

    • That’s a very good idea, to keep a check, because pregnancy has concerns. I’d suggest to take time off feet. If you’re a working mom try sitting down while working. If that isn’t possible cut down daily chores other than compulsory work. Eat well and keep calm. If your doctor said there’s nothing to worry about then you can rely or maybe get another consultation for second opinion. Wear loose clothes but always support your belly even at 14 weeks.

  7. Hi
    I am 8 weeks pregnany. I concoeved with an Hb1ac level of 8.1. I have been getting brown discharge with mucus for the past 3 to 4 days and slight cramping. Could this mean i am having a miscarriage?

    • Slight cramping and brown discharge is a common pregnancy occurrence. Miscarriage bleeding is mostly fresh red blood or dark red blood. But you must tell your OB about it.

  8. Am having dark brown discharge from yesterday afternoon but it’s not heavy…am in my 2nf trimster that is 7w 5d…i didn’t had any pain,smell, swelling or anything…is it any indication of anything

  9. I had mtp on July 25th n had a light bleeding for 2 days and from 2nd august was having bleeding again…is it periods please help me out was freaking out with tension

    • If you’ve heavy bleeding please tell your doc about it. It isn’t possible to tell whether it is period or anything, without testing.

  10. Hi i am 5 weeks and 6 days pregnant .yesterday i started to have very high cramps in my stomach but no bleeding.i went today to doctor and she did a urine test and said m having uti. But When i came home i had brown discharge .the doctor gave me penicillin . I had a miscarrige last year and i am worried is it again happening . When Should i see the doctor? Plz help

    • If you already saw a doc and the diagnosis was a urinary tract infection then brown discharge is normal. That is a symptom of UTI. Go by their word and follow the prescription.

  11. I’m 6 weeks pregnant and for the past two days I have been light spotting which looks like fresh blood and brown mucus discharge… I had a back pain all afternoon yesterday…should I consult a dr right away?

  12. I am currently 15 weeks pregnant and I have been having light to dark brown discharge since Oct 2nd 2018. At first it was light n only came out a few times for the first 2 days and now it has turned dark brown and when I goto use the bathroom some times only a little bit is on the toilet paper but another time it was more on the TP . I don’t feel cramps, I don’t see clumps or anything related to that. All i have been seeing is dark brown discharge. I am extremely concerned because I already had a miscarriage and I’m hoping this is not happening again. Plz I need some sort of reassurance…

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