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Labor

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Your uterus now has a peak blood flow of about one-half liter flowing through it every minute, preparing you and your baby for the physical trauma of birth. The increased blood volume and clotting abilities protect you from losing too much blood, and the increased blood flow allows both you and your baby to get the necessary amount of oxygen during contractions. The muscle cells in your uterus have increased in size and number, and every muscle fiber is enhanced so that muscle contractions can occur more consistently.

You may lose the plug of mucus that has tightly sealed the inside of your uterus from the vagina. This mucus plug looks like a big glob of slime and is usually brownish in color. Most women notice it on toilet paper or in their panties. This does not necessarily mean you will begin labor immediately; it is just one of the stepping stones. When labor is about to begin, women will often notice a small amount of bright red bleeding that may require wearing a panty liner.

About 15 percent of women will start the labor process with their water breaking. This is the amniotic sac leaking fluid. When this occurs, you may notice either a large gush of fluid or a small trickle of fluid. Sometimes, the only thing a woman notices is that her panties are wet. Amniotic fluid should not have a foul odor and should be clear. If your water breaks, it may catch you a little off guard. Notice what color the fluid is and if it has an odor. Call your care provider immediately, describe the amount of fluid and its characteristics. Your care provider may have you come to the hospital at this point.

Pay close attention to your baby's activity. His movements may be a little different in the confined uterus, but they should still be present. If they seem to be decreased, or if you don't recall feeling the baby move, eat and drink something, lie down on your side, and begin counting movements for an hour. You may stop at ten movements. If the baby does not move ten times during that hour, call your care provider.

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