Most women during their reproductive years may have vaginal discharge at some point. A greater volume of discharge is possible during pregnancy.
Every pregnant woman also creates a mucus plug, a different kind of discharge. This fluid collects near the cervical canal’s opening during the first stages of pregnancy.
This mucus plug acts as a barrier, stopping germs and other pathogens from entering the uterus and potentially harming the developing foetus. Sometimes it’s hard to determine if you’ve removed your mucus plug or if you have a normal discharge. The loss of your mucus plug may indicate that labour is imminent or may result from an open cervix.
When a woman loses her mucus plug late in her first pregnancy, it might be a shocking and unexpected development. Even if they have shed their mucus plug, not all women are aware of the fact.
Mucus Plug: What is it?
The mucus plug is a mass of mucus that forms in the cervix and prevents the cervix from opening. It creates a barrier to block pathogens before reaching the foetus, ensuring a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Consider it a wall that separates your vagina from the uterus, where the baby is.
Your cervix will shrink, soften, and open as your body prepares for birth. The mucus plug will be lost as a result of this. The mucus is expelled through the vaginal opening. This is referred to as a loss of the mucus plug.
When Your Mucus Plug Has Been Lost and What To Do About It
There is a lot of mucus plug release confusion because many pregnant women have vaginal discharge. Unlike regular vaginal discharge, a mucus plug may appear stringy or thick and jelly-like. It’s possible for the mucus plug to be clear, pink, or even somewhat bloody.
Mucus plug loss during pregnancy can occur from several different causes. The mucus plug is often expelled when the cervix begins to dilate. “Cervical softening” or “ripening” refers to the process through which the cervix thins and dilates in anticipation of birth. The mucus plug is not as securely maintained in place and can drain.
For some pregnant women, the mucus plug can also be lost while undergoing a cervical exam or after engaging in sexual activity, both of which can result in the plug becoming loose and falling out.
Even if you’ve lost your mucus plug, it doesn’t guarantee you’re about to give birth. However, it indicates that your body and cervix are undergoing significant changes in preparation for delivery. Ultimately, your cervix will dilate and soften, so your baby may easily pass through during birth.
The Appearance of a Mucus Plug
The discharge from a mucus plug might be transparent, pink, somewhat red, or brown. Mucus can be expelled as a single long strand, a single large glob, or many smaller pieces. After you’ve finished wiping, you may see it on the toilet paper, or you could not. Heavy bleeding, such as during a menstrual cycle, is cause for concern and should be reported to a doctor; it may not be the mucus plug.
A mucus plug might appear and feel different for each individual, but often it will be:
- transparent, off-white, or slightly bloody with a pink, red, or brown tinge.
- anywhere from one to two inches in length
- thick, jelly-like, and somewhat sticky and/or stringy
- anywhere from one to two tablespoons in volume
- largely odourless
Could It Be the Mucus Plug or the Discharge from the Vagina?
Pregnant women often have vaginal discharge, which can be mistaken for the mucus plug as the due date approaches. Here’s how to identify the difference between a mucus plug and regular vaginal discharge.
- Timing: Even though most pregnant women have increased vaginal discharge, the mucus plug itself doesn’t usually come out until later in the pregnancy.
- Colour: According to what you just read, the mucus plug is ordinarily clear or off-white, but if it combines with blood in your cervix, it may appear red, brown, or pink. However, the colour of vaginal discharge is often a pale yellow or white.
- Texture: Mucus plugs are thick and jelly-like, while vaginal discharge is often thinner and waterier.
However, this still can be confusing for many women. In any case, if you notice anything out of the usual, consult a healthcare professional immediately.
Causes Of a Mucus Plug Fall-Out
A few factors might cause your mucus plug to fall off. Firstly, your healthcare practitioner may perform a cervix examination during prenatal visits. Your cervix may feel strained or irritated during the inspection. The mucus plug may then loosen and drain.
Secondly, when your cervix begins to efface (thin down) and dilate (open up) in preparation for birth, your mucus plug may leak into the vagina. That opening is now being prepared for the arrival of the newborn.
Finally, in most cases, having sex while pregnant is safe. Sexual activity during the last weeks of pregnancy has been shown to break down the mucus block. When you’re farther along in your pregnancy than 37 weeks, it’s OK to do this. The premature removal of the mucus plug may be associated with specific health hazards.
Call your doctor if you think you may have lost your mucus plug before 37 weeks of pregnancy. They might want to have a look, just in case.
Bloody Show: What Is It?
Mucus discharge that is pink or brown indicates bloody show. In a healthy woman close to her due date, this is a natural symptom of labour’s impending arrival, signalling the rupture of the cervix’s blood vessels as the cervix effaces and dilates.
However, if your vaginal discharge turns bright red or you experience more major bleeding before 37 weeks, you should immediately contact your doctor or midwife to rule out illnesses requiring rapid medical treatment.
It’s not the same as passing the mucus plug when you have a bloody show. In contrast to normal mucus, a bloody show signifies the time has come for a performance. Mucus plugs are a one-time glob of jelly-like mucus that signal the beginning of contractions but not necessarily the beginning of labour.
The loss of a mucus plug may be seen as a sign of a healthy pregnancy progression. After or during the 37th week of pregnancy, likely, you’ll no longer have a mucus plug.
While mucus plug loss is usually nothing to worry about, it’s always wise to check in with your doctor just in case. If you lose your mucus plug and begin to experience labour signs, you should contact your doctor immediately.