Experiencing a brownish discharge during pregnancy can be scary. When it happens, you aren’t sure if it is normal, and you’re not sure what to do about it. While you should call your doctor any time you have unusual symptoms or become concerned about a recent development, understanding some of the causes of a brownish discharge during pregnancy can help reduce your stress level.
If the pregnancy is far enough along that the due date is approaching, a brownish discharge during pregnancy can be a signal that labor is going to begin. A brownish discharge could be the mucous plug, which has been in place during the pregnancy to prevent bacteria from entering the cervix during fetal development. As labor approaches, the cervix begins to thin, and the mucous plug dislodges and is expelled from the body. Sometimes, there is some stringy mucus attached to the plug. Typically, the plug is brown in color and can be tinged in blood. If the mucous plug is expelled, labor generally begins within a few hours to a few days.
Brown discharge during the last half of the first trimester could be old blood. As the body begins to settle in for the gestational period, the blood that initially was withheld to protect the fetus is no longer needed. The body will expel it through the vagina. The blood will usually be brownish in color. If this is the cause of the discharge, it is considered a normal part of the pregnancy.
Sometimes, a brownish discharge during pregnancy indicates a serious condition called an ectopic pregnancy. This occurs when the pregnancy occurs outside the uterus and can quickly escalate to a life-threatening condition once the fetus begins to grow. A brownish discharge that occurs a few weeks before severe pain that begins on one side and then spreads, pain that become more severe during coughing, or nausea and vomiting may mean an ectopic pregnancy. Immediate medical attention is warranted if this is suspected.
Some factors to consider when a brownish discharge appears during pregnancy are timing and recent history. If the pregnancy is relatively new, the discharge can be caused by spotting of blood about the time a period would normally begin. How long the pregnancy has been in effect has a bearing on what may cause the discharge to occur.
While there are several acceptable causes of brownish discharge during pregnancy, taking precautions by calling a physician the first time it occurs can put your mind at ease. In addition, any time the discharge is accompanied by additional symptoms such as nausea, pain or dizziness, it is important to seek medical advice.