The Mucous Discharge, Contractions, and Water Breaking Are Signs That Labor is Starting

Parenting September 03, 2009 Print Friendly and PDF

Prenatal Tips for the Third Trimester

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Signs that labor will begin soon:

  • Discharge of the mucous plug is one sign that labor will begin within 24 hours. You will see mucous with a small amount of blood on your underwear. This pinkish thing has kept your uterus sealed and protected from germs during pregnancy. Its loss means your cervix is getting softer and thinner in preparation for delivery.
  • Bag of water breaks-sometimes the first sign of labor is water coming from the vagina, either in a slow trickle or a great gush. What’s happening is the water bag, which is called the amniotic sac, that your baby has been in during pregnancy breaks or leaks. If this happens, call your doctor or clinic. You and your baby are now open to infection. When your water breaks, you should be in active labor in 24 hours.
  • Contractions- labor often starts with contractions. What do they feel like? There is no one answer. Contractions may feel like strong menstrual cramps, gas pains, a backache, or a tightening feeling that comes and goes. Some women feel practice contractions during the last month of pregnancy.

To know if you’re feeling the real thing or if it’s just a warm up for the real thing, try changing your activity. If you have been moving around, lie down or take a bath. If you were asleep, get up and walk. If the contractions continue to come, and are getting longer, stronger, or closer together, it is time to call your doctor or clinic.

Learn more about Your Prenatal Baby: Third Trimester from Just In Time Parenting. You can also go to our Resource Links for additional information on child care and development.

Note to Parents: When reading this newsletter, remember: Every baby is different. Children may do things earlier or later than described here. This newsletter gives equal space and time to both sexes. If he or she is used, we are talking about all babies.
References: These materials were adapted by authors from Extension Just in Time Parenting Newsletters in California, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Tennessee, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.


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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.