To prevent infection during pregnancy, the cervix is protected by a mucus plug (called an operculum) that fills and seals the cervical canal. It serves as a protective wall that prevents bacteria from getting into the uterus.
Just before labour, the cervix thins and causes blood to be released into it. This causes the mucus plug to become bloody and will dislodge when you get closer to labour. The mucus plug will stain your underwear and may have a brownish or reddish color.
During pregnancy, the baby is surrounded by the amniotic sac, which is filled with amniotic fluid. This cushions the baby during pregnancy and protects it from small impacts or vibrations. During labour (or just before it), the amniotic sac bursts – also known as your water breaking. You might experience some wetness in your vagina after this, followed by a constant leaking or gush of a clear or yellowish fluid.
The fluid discharge when your water breaks can sometimes be confused with urine and if you feel unsure or uneasy, it is advised to call your doctor or report to the hospital immediately. If your water breaks before labour, it might be a premature rupture of membranes (known as PROM), which can cause complications such as infection.
Your doctor will be able to advise you on the proper steps to handle PROM and minimize the risks.