Why Your Baby Girl Has Vaginal Discharge

baby girl sleeping
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Some of the most common questions new parents ask are in regards to diapering their brand new babies. One situation frequently surprises parents of baby girls—when they peel back that first diaper and find what looks a lot like bloody discharge coming from their daughter's vagina. It can be shocking to see vaginal discharge on a newborn, but fortunately, it's very common and very normal.

Why Newborns Have Vaginal Discharge

Newborn baby girls have a discharge because of their mother's hormone levels. During pregnancy, high levels of hormones circulate in the body. These cross the placenta and reach the baby.

In newborn girls, these high levels of hormones can cause vaginal discharge. In both girls and boys, the hormones can cause the baby to have what look like breast buds because of the swollen tissue around the breasts. The labia—or outside lips of the vagina—and the clitoris can also look visibly swollen in newborn girls because of leftover hormones from pregnancy.

Some hormones in the mother are necessary for the baby's vagina to develop correctly. When the baby is born, she loses her supply of hormones, which can lead to discharge. The discharge usually looks thick, gray-white or even slightly yellow-tinged, and bloody. This is how the newborn's body reacts to suddenly losing the high levels of hormones it was used to during pregnancy.

Newborn vaginal discharge is completely normal. It does not hurt your baby, and it usually disappears on its own by the time your baby is 10 days old.

How to Keep Your Baby Clean

Vaginal discharge in a baby doesn't require any special treatment. You can simply clean the area with a wet wipe, being sure to wipe the discharge from front to back. You may need to wipe the area a few times to get it completely clean. 

You may also have to check inside the labia (the outside folds of the vagina), as the discharge can build up inside the skin folds. Don't be afraid to clean the vaginal opening thoroughly. If you don't wipe the vagina opening thoroughly enough, the skin can actually fuse together. 

You should also use care not to cleanse the vagina with anything but warm water or gentle baby wipes. Soap can actually irritate the diaper area and upset the balance of the vagina, or cause a rash in your baby. Call your pediatrician if the vaginal discharge persists longer than two weeks or becomes yellow or foul-smelling, as those symptoms may be a sign of an infection.

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  1. Penn State Hershey. Hormonal effects in newborns. Updated March 6, 2019.

  2. Dinerman LM, Joffee A. Chapter 27: Vaginal discharge. In: McInerny TK, Adam HM, Campbell DE, DeWitt TG, Meschan Foy J, Kamat DM, eds. American Academy of Pediatrics Textbook of Pediatric Care, 2nd edition. American Academy of Pediatrics, 2016.

  3. Skin care for your baby. Paediatr Child Health. 2007;12(3):245-51. doi:10.1093/pch/12.3.245