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If your water breaks and your amniotic fluid is yellow, green, or bloody fluid, your provider will likely tell you to go to the hospital. That's because there may be meconium (fetal stool—yes, they make it while inside the womb) in your amniotic fluid, signaling that the child may be in distress. But at some point prior to going into labor, you may also pass blood-tinged thick mucous (think of it as a cork in a bottle of wine). Doctors call this the bloody show; it looks a lot like phlegm.
This doesn't necessarily mean you're in active labor—in fact, it can occur up to a week before labor begins. A bloody show is generally a positive sign that your cervix is dilating and does not require you to call your doctor. If you tested positive for group B strep, there is a higher chance that this bacteria can find its way into and infect the uterus now that the water is broken, since the sterile sac has been compromised.
The amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby is usually a clear to yellow-colored liquid. Sometimes, when a woman’s water breaks, we notice it can be yellow-green or even a dark green color. This is a result of fetal stool (meconium) that has passed into the amniotic sac.
There are a few reasons this would happen. If babies are under distress or past their due date, they may pass stool prematurely, which makes the water bag green.
This is usually not a big deal during labor. We will monitor the baby for signs of distress, and at the time of delivery, we have specialists who clear meconium from the baby's mouth and vocal cords, so the baby does not inhale meconium fluid, which can cause inflammation in the newborn's lungs.
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If amniotic fluid is not clear, it could mean the baby is stressed or their first stool made it's way into the amniotic fluid. Watch Nancy Rector-Finney, MD, with Methodist Children's Hospital, discuss the different degrees of amniotic fluid.
Amniotic fluid is a colorless or pale yellow, non-odorous fluid that cushions the fetus during pregnancy. Sometimes small amounts a mucous strands from the mucous plug are seen, but in general the amniotic fluid will be clear. Any change in the color or odor of the amniotic fluid may be a sign of a potential problem. Some potential color alterations and the possible etiology are:
- Red: bleeding - often from the placenta
- Dark red: hemolized blood – often associated with fetal hemolytic disease
- Green: passage of fecal material - often associated with intrauterine fetal stress
- Yellow (dark/golden): presence of bile – associated with either hemolytic disease or the presence of old fecal material
- Brown particles: Recent passage of meconium
Any of these situations need to be immediately reported to the physician.
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