As the name infers, a mucus plug is a plug made out of mucus in a female body during pregnancy. It develops in the cervix and lodges mainly to block the cervical canal in the cervix. The job of a mucus plug is to protect the uterus from any unwanted bacterial germs and pathogens that could harm the baby, and from sexual activities or vaginal check-ups.
What is a Mucus Plug?
It is usually a thick, jelly-like liquid to keep the area moistened and protected. The fluid eventually grows and seals the cervical canal and creates a thick plug of mucus. It serves as a barrier and protects from any further infection entering the uterus.
Most of the time, Cervical Mucus is rich with antimicrobial components. It also adds up double protection by bacteria-busting properties. Lysozymes in a mucus plug usually destroy the cell walls of bacteria.
The secretions from the female’s cervix and the increase in oestrogens and progesterone are helping in the formation of the mucus plug early during the pregnancy when the ovum goes its way to the uterus. Though it remains until the end of the pregnancy, the body is always using new mucus to redevelop it, keeping it fresh.
What Does a Mucus Plug Look Like?
Usually, The Mucus Plug after developing can be translucent and white jelly-like structure with color variations like green, slightly pink or brown (just what a Mucus looks like). It is found to be thicker and firm when in the cervix and somewhat thin and liquid-like when expelled from the body. It might also contain some hints of blood with a pinkish shade.
A standard mucus plug is about 4-5 centimeters long and about 30-40 gms in volume. It usually seems less because the body doesn’t expel it all at once.
The blood stripes in it can be easily observed quite often as the cervix expands before labor starts and that can lead to the bursting of capillaries. However, there shouldn’t be any bleeding. If the passing of the plug is followed by fairly heavy blood-tinged discharge of red color, then you should immediately call the doctor.
How to Identify If You’ve Lost Your Mucus Plug? And When?
Most women experience vaginal emanation throughout the pregnancy. Therefore, it can be pretty difficult to identify when it is out of the cervix. However, a mucus appears thick and jelly-like, unlike regular vaginal discharge. It may also be pretty clear, pink, or slightly bloody.
There are numerous reasons why you may lose your mucus plug during pregnancy. Mostly, it gets discharged because the cervix is softening. That means the cervix is starting to become weaker and wider in preparation for the delivery of the baby. So, the mucus isn’t supported in place as easily and gets discharged.
As previously mentioned, there are chances that some women may also lose their mucus plug after a cervical exam during the pregnancy, which can easily cause the mucus to dislodge, or during any sexual activity, which can make the mucus to lose and break out.
Losing your mucus plug doesn’t necessarily means that delivery is expected. However, it usually indicates that your body and cervix are going through notable changes so that you’re better prepared for the childbirth. Eventually, the cervix will soften and dilate. Therefore, the baby can move through the cervical canal during delivery.
Here’s an Animation on Losing Mucus Plug Right Before Birth:
What to Do when the Mucus Falls Out?
Usually, before 2-3 weeks before the delivery date, the cervix starts to soften, light, and dilate, the mucus may fall out. It fills the cervix and protects the uterus. Losing the mucus plug means the cervix is getting ready for the labor. But it is not a significant sign that labor has begun or is expected. Cervix can also start to dilate several weeks before delivery as well.
If you’re noticing any globs of mucus in the underwear or when you’re using the toilet, that possibly means that the mucus plug is loosening or expelling out. You don’t have to be alarmed if you see any blood gazing out because it may be because of the breaking which can cause bleeding.
There are chances that you might lose the mucus plug, and you wouldn’t even know. That’s because the body slowly prepares the cervix and canal for delivering over weeks and days. So gradual loosening of the mucus happens too.
What to Do Next? Is it painful?
Losing the mucus plug does not mean that labor has started inevitably. Also, you do not need to rush to the hospital when this happens. You need to hurry when the water breaks. There’s a difference between mucus plug & water breaking. The understand can be understood properly through this video mentioned below:
A little aching or a nagging might be occurring during the wearing out of the mucus and resembles the same during the menstrual cycle.
Do you still want to know more about Mucus Plug? I know there are always some minor doubts that people wish to understand but hesitate.
To make it easier for you, we have taken several private Q/A sessions, and surveys to make an FAQ for our readers online. All of the questions were asked by our soon to be mother volunteers. And, we have all the information from major websites like WebMD, TheBump.com, and my personal favorite family doctor. So, here it goes:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q.1 When will the labor start after losing the mucus plug?
If this the first time you’re having a baby, then you have to start celebrating early. It is likely to be a few days or weeks before your labor would begin.
If you already are a mother, then losing the mucus plug happens pretty late. More likely, you’d be giving birth within “few hours.” However, there’s really never an exact timeline.
Q.2 I lost the mucus plug early. Is it okay?
Yes. Even though mucus plug is an early sign of labor, it can quickly regenerate itself to some extent if you lose it before the standard 37-week mark. As long as you’re not feeling any contractions, and there’s not an alarming bright red blood, you have nothing to worry about.
NOTE: – If your doctor or midwife does any vaginal exams during the third trimester, then it could also cause you to lose it early.
But if you lost it before the 37 week time, then make sure to inform your doctor or midwife know about it. So, she could keep an eye on the perfect health for you and your baby. Losing mucus plug early however also indicates premature labor in on pregnancy. Perhaps, this video is enough for all your remaining doubts regarding this question.
Q.3 Would there be any infection risk by losing the mucus plug early?
As mentioned earlier, if you do happen to pass the mucus plug early, then there are chances that it would regenerate itself. As the hormones are still in the “Protection On” mode, the mucus plug continues to regenerate until the 37-week period.
If your mucus plug doesn’t regenerate, you’d still have the amniotic sac for protection. It surrounds the baby and protects them from any
infection and pathogens.
The amniotic sac is the last line of protection between the outside world and the baby. However, it is the real deal when it comes to destroying incoming pathogens.
If you lost the mucus plug early then it is recommended to avoid any sexual activity. As my doctor strictly advised and quoted “Stay away from physical relation if you want to have a healthy baby.” It also means no more swimming in the lake or any trips to the city pool. In fact, refrain any activity that may cause infection.