The Mucus Plug Explained
What exactly is a mucus plug? (And…ewwww.)
At the very beginning of pregnancy, some mucus collects at the opening to the cervix. This thick substance works to seal the cervix tightly and block infection from traveling from the vagina to the cervix. Due to the hormones surging through the body during pregnancy, the mucus plug continually stays "fresh."
The mucus plug - in all of it's glory- averages 2-3 centimeters (or about 2 tablespoons. It is a thick, mucusy substance that is different from other vaginal discharge. (If you're feeling brave, Sir Google will happily show you pictures of what this gelatinous mass actually looks like.) It can be a yellow/white color or it may have some pink mixed in.
Should I call the doctor when I lose my plug?
As the body gets closer to delivery, there is a shift in hormones. That hormone shift often leads to loss of the mucus plug. A mucus plug can come out as a large chunk or in bits & pieces at a time. This is not necessarily an indication of imminent labor. It can be worth mentioning to your doctor at the next appointment or a call in if you're concerned, but is seen as a normal part of the progression toward labor.
If you suspect that you've lost your mucus plug early in your pregnancy, please contact your medical provider. If the loss of your mucus plug (at any point in pregnancy) is followed by a significant amount of bright red blood, this is also worthy of a call to your provider. If you are unable to determine the discharge you're experiencing (or if it seems extra watery), your provider is the perfect person to talk with.
Is there a risk to the baby when I lose my mucus plug?
While the mucus plug does provide a layer of protection against infection, the thick bag of waters that surrounds baby is the ultimate protection. Various books and website may tell you to abstain from sexual activity or baths after losing your mucus plug. We find that your personal medical provider will give you the best, most up to date information on this question.
Will I go into labor when I lose my mucus plug?
Wouldn't that be wonderful? While it's not a definite predictor of labor, it is a sign that your body is doing exactly what it is supposed to do to prepare for labor.
What if I don't lose my mucus plug?
Many women never experience the "Oh, look! I lost my mucus plug!" moment. Because the mucus plug can come out in smaller pieces, it can be missed as just normal discharge. Prior to your baby entering the world, you will lose your plug. It just might not be something you notice.