During the last week or two of pregnancy, you may be watching for any indication that labor will soon begin. You may be feeling excited, nervous, scared or any combination of these emotions. If your husband is anything like mine, he’ll be watching you closely for any signs of contractions. There are some changes you will notice that can signal labor is quickly approaching.
Losing the Mucous Plug
The mucous plug is a thick blob of mucous that seals the entry of the uterus. Its purpose is to protect the baby from any infections. As the cervix prepares to dilate, the plug becomes loose and comes out. This can happen anywhere from the onset of labor to a couple of weeks ahead of time.
The plug will look like a blob of gel. It may be clear or yellowish in color. In some cases, it will have a pink color to it. All of these are normal and vary from woman to woman. You may lose the plug all in one big blob or in smaller pieces more gradually.
Bloody show is often mistaken for the mucous plug. They are two different things. Show is a small amount of pink or bloody discharge. It can mean labor is imminent, but this isn’t always the case. You can see bloody show anywhere from a few hours to a few days before labor. If the blood is bright red or there is a significant amount, call your doctor.
Frequent Bathroom Breaks
As labor approaches, you may find that you are making more frequent trips to the bathroom. You may find that you need to empty your bowels several times each day in the day or so leading up to the birth of your baby. This is a normal part of your body preparing for child birth.
More Braxton Hicks Contractions
You may have been experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions for quite some time prior to your due date. Many women notice that these contractions become more frequent and intense in the days just before the baby is born. This is normal and is part of your uterus preparing for the main event. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell these from the real contractions of labor. Braxton Hicks contractions won’t be regular and will fade eventually, unlike real labor contractions.
Your Water Breaks
In most women, labor is well under way before the water breaks. In about a quarter of laboring women, the water will break just before contractions begin. In most cases, the water will trickle out, rather than coming in a big flood. The baby’s head holds in most of the water. If your water breaks, call your doctor. Call even if contractions haven’t started. If labor doesn’t start, the doctor will want to check you and may need to induce labor.