To all the moms-to-be out there who are unaware of what a mucus plug is or what makes it so important — we’ve got your back!
Losing the mucus plug isn’t as bad as it might sound — we promise.
In fact, losing the mucus plug could be a sign that labor has started — letting you know that it’s time to pack your bags and think about heading over to the hospital for delivery.
As your body starts to prepare for delivery, your cervix will start to dilate (become wider). As this happens, the mucus plug will be discharged into the vagina. It’s a natural process experienced by most moms in the final hours before delivery.
Still, every pregnancy is different, and to some ladies, losing a mucus plug won’t necessarily mean they’re going into labor.
For instance, some moms will lose their mucus plug when the labor is clearly imminent, while others may lose is several days or even weeks before delivery.
The most important thing to remember is that when the mucus plug is followed by something called a bloody show (more on this later) — it’s go-time!
In this article, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty details about how the mucus plug and bloody show work, how they relate to each other, and what it all means for you and your baby.
What Exactly is a Mucus Plug?
Try thinking of the mucus plug as a barrier sealing the cervix — blocking the exit path of a developing baby.
It’s like a door leading to the uterus. The main role of the plug is to protect the baby from the outside world (along with the help of the amniotic sack of course).
Once your body senses that you’re ready to meet your baby, the cervix will widen, causing the mucus plug to fall out.
Simple as that!
The Color & Consistency of the Mucus Plug
When it comes to consistency, the mucus plug will resemble gelatine. It has a sticky, thick consistency similar to the mucus produced in your nose while you’re sick or have allergies.
The similarity isn’t a coincidence, the mucus plug is made up of a lot of the same compounds to the mucus in our nose. They even have a similar function — to create a protective barrier from the outside world.
Both forms of mucus are designed to make it extra difficult for infectious organisms like yeast or bacteria to survive. To make things even more hostile for potential invaders is a slurry of immune cells ready to attack and destroy anything they see that doesn’t look like it was created by the body itself.
Should You Be Thinking About Removing Your Mucus Plug?
This is a big NO!
There is no scenario in which pulling out the mucus plug is a good idea.
It’s important to remember that the mucus plug has an important role in the body — it’s protecting your baby from all sorts of hazards and contaminants in the outside world. The plug prevents these hazards from getting into the womb where they can affect your baby.
You’ll want to keep the mucus plug intact for as long as possible.
Besides, there really isn’t any benefit to pulling it out anyway.
After Losing the Mucus Plug, How Much Time Do You Have Until Labor?
As we’ve already mentioned, this is something that will vary from one mom to the next.
Some of them might lose the mucus plug several weeks prior to labor, others might lose it within minutes of going into labor.
What If Your Mucous Plug Gets Discharged Early?
If you happen to be one of those moms that lose their mucus plug before the due date — don’t panic!
There’s no need to worry about it as your baby will remain safe in the womb for the next couple of weeks until you go into labor even without the plug.
In fact, there’s a good chance you’re body will recover a lot of the lost mucus in the weeks leading up to the birthing process. This is because your body will continue to secrete mucus over the next few weeks to keep the baby safe.
We’d also like to note that it’s completely safe for you to have sex, take baths and continue acting as you normally would.
Is Losing Your Mucus Plug Inevitable?
The answer to this one is a resounding yes.
The mucus plug will always get discharged before labor as a natural part of the process. Even if you didn’t notice, or seem to have missed this event, it will always be discharged at some point during the delivery process at the very latest. A lot of times the plug is lost in several smaller pieces, making it harder to notice that you’ve lost it at all.
Will You Lose the Mucus Plug Before or After the Water Breaks?
Typically, losing the mucus plug will take place before your water breaks. However, some women experience small amounts of amniotic fluid leakage through a gap in the mucus plug. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve lost the mucus plug completely.
The Bloody Show & Why It’s Important
The most important thing to look out for once you’ve lost your mucus plug is the appearance of the bloody show.
Despite having a name that belongs in a Quinton Tarantino movie, the bloody show isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds.
The term bloody show is used to describe a pinkish or brownish mucusy discharge. It’s a natural process that happens as the cervix dilates and small amounts of blood are mixed with the mucus produced by the cervix.
This process is completely normal, natural, and healthy. In fact, it’s one of the best indicators that you’re body is preparing to begin the labor process.
We’d like to note that, in case you notice bright red blood or increased bleeding, especially before entering the 37th week of your pregnancy — you should call your midwife or doctor just to rule out possible complications.
How Long After the Bloody Show Will It Take to Enter Labor?
In general, after you’ve experienced the bloody show, no more than a day or two will pass until labor.
However, it may happen that you feel the first contraction even after a couple of hours. So, be prepared and calm…but don’t run through the door just yet.
The best course of action after experiencing a bloody show is to remain calm and pay attention to any new changes in your body. You’re likely going to go into labor within the next 48 hours.
Is Passing the Bloody Show Exactly the Same as Losing the Mucus Plug?
Not really. In fact, they are very different from each other.
Even though mucus is something they both have in common, the bloody show is a sign that your cervix is starting to dilate, while the mucus plug can happen both with or without the dilation of the cervix.
Summary: When to Head to the Hospital
The mucus plug is usually lost in the final weeks leading up to labor. This can happen several weeks ahead of schedule, or even on the very same day as delivery — every woman is different. Either way, the loss of the mucus plug doesn’t provide any certainty that you’re ready to go into labor, listen to your body and prepare for other signs that labor is imminent before rushing to the hospital.
The bloody show, though similar to the mucus plug, is a much better indicator that your body is ready for labor. Still, don’t go rushing to the hospital as soon as you experience a bloody show. Instead, use it as an early reminder that you’re almost there. Start to pay extra attention to other changes in your body that may indicate the onset of labor.
If you have some doubts or questions, don’t hesitate to voice your concerns by calling your doc. In fact, you can pay them a visit and have a quick exam in order to know exactly how dilated your cervix is and when you should expect to be in active labor.
Alright, ladies, that’s it!
This is all there is to know about losing the mucus plug and experiencing the bloody show phenomenon. We sure hope you found this article useful and resourceful.
Just remember — there’s no room for fear or panic. Stay calm and keep getting ready to meet that wonderful baby of yours!