Mucous discharge

■ 3rd trimester

As you approach your delivery date, you may notice an increase in mucous discharge from your vagina. During pregnancy, the opening of the cervix becomes blocked with a thick plug of mucus that keeps bacteria and other germs from entering the uterus. As you get closer to labor, your cervix begins to thin and relax, and the mucous plug may loosen, causing the discharge to increase and thicken. The plug is sometimes dislodged as thick, stringy or blood-tinged mucus. (See also Bloody show.)

■ Prevention and self-care for mucous discharge

Mucous discharge is normal toward the end of pregnancy. If you want something to absorb the flow, use sanitary napkins rather than tampons. Keep your genital area clean, and wear cotton underwear. Avoid tight or nylon pants, and don't use perfume or deodorant soap in the genital area.

■ When to seek medical help for mucous discharge

Call your health care provider if your discharge is foul smelling, yellow, green or causes itching or burning. These could be signs of an infection. Mucous discharge before 35 weeks could be a sign of preterm labor. Report it to your health care provider.

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