Losing Your Mucus Plug: Does It Mean Labor Is Near?by Elizabeth MacDonald
You know you want to see a mucus plug.
A giant snot-textured, slightly colored glob of mucus that falls out of your vagina at the end of pregnancy, and you aren’t the least bit curious?
Pregnancy brings with it some weird stuff, but this takes the cake. It is about time that more women learned about this disgusting snot-ball of ick.
WARNING: Actual mucus plug photos are below. (All were found in cyber-space. If one is yours, please let us know and we will credit you.)
According to American Pregnancy, the mucus plug is a thick gelatinous plug of mucus that blocks the opening of the cervix to prevent bacteria from entering the uterus. It is commonly expelled prior to labor, allowing the baby to pass through the cervix during birth. It is not the same thing as a bloody show. The two are often confused. The mucus plug helps protect your growing baby from the risk of infection and acts as a “cork” keeping the cervix closed.
It has the ability to regenerate if it is lost prior to the body being ready for labor – yes, your mucus plug can REGROW.
While most women assume that a lost mucus plug means that labor will be starting, it is untrue. For some women, it can be a sign that your baby is ready; but for most, it means that the cervix is ripening, softening, and preparing for labor, but it does not mean that labor will be starting soon. On the opposite side of the spectrum, not losing your mucus plug at all doesn’t mean your cervix is not ripening. For some crazy reason, labor is unpredictable. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen, you are thrown for a loop.
What You Should Know About Your Mucus Plug
- It may be bloody. It shouldn’t be heavily coated in blood (less than a tablespoon total), but will probably have blood-tinged streaks throughout the glob.
- It can fall out in pieces, over days, or as an entire glob at once.
- It can regrow and does not mean that labor is near.
- If cramping occurs, it could be the early stages of labor.
- It can be scary if you aren’t prepared to lose it.
- Losing your plug is not dangerous, and is not a sign of danger to your baby or pregnancy. However, it should be brought to the birth team’s attention if you are not yet full term.
- Seek medical attention immediately if the bright red bleeding has started after the discharge of the plug - it can be a sign of placenta previa or placental abruption.
Mucus Plugs in Real Life
“I lost my mucus plug with my first pregnancy and went into labor just hours later. (Was full term) It did freak me out because it was blood. The thought of a stillbirth crossed my mind.” – Jennifer
“Labor came the same night after losing mine with my first two kids- in the tub both times, and it was gross!! With the third baby, I lost it two weeks before his birth, and I even passed a second small one a few days before labor.” –Rebekah
“I didn't lose it and I went over my due date. They induced and she was born cesarean. For my second, I went through a midwife and she was determined I'd deliver VBAC. She gave me Black Cohosh drops to take the last 2-3 weeks and I lost my mucus plug about 36 hours before going into labor naturally & delivering vaginally.” –Lisa
“I lost my plug just before transition with my kids. With my surrogate baby, it trickled out like nasty boogers the week before!” -Ivy
“Never saw it the first time, but the second time, right after my prenatal yoga class, and 2 days before my due date, it came out in the toilet. I was ecstatic, as I knew the baby would come soon. She was born the next afternoon. During prenatal yoga, we were doing exercises to "open our pelvis" as the only ones in class that night were close enough to due-date to do so. It certainly worked!” –Katie
“Lost mine on a Monday and more of it on Tuesday. Delivered him Friday morning.” –Purusha
“I lost it in pieces and then had contractions all day that didn't hurt with my son. Then the next day I had my membranes swept and then labor that night and had him the next day. I Had him at 39+2. With my daughter, I lost it in a big piece but still didn't have her for a week afterward. I Had her at 41 weeks.” –Brandy
“I never lost mine with my first, I was induced so I likely lost it during that. With my second I lost bits for like 2.5wks... it was like oh come on seriously when will labor start!? I went 41w6d but only had 2 hrs of labor!” –Denise
“I lost mine 3 weeks before my due date and then made another one!!!!! I didn't know that was possible. I lost the second one a couple days after my due date and went into labor a couple days after that.” –Brandi
“Lost my plug with my first over a week and I really could've used a bucket. Gave new meaning to the phrase "bucket of slime." With my second pregnancy I didn't lose it at all.” – Sue