Before you ever get pregnant, there isn’t much talk about what a mucus plug is. In fact, it’s often not mentioned at all.
No one likes to talk about the gross aspects of pregnancy and birth. When your friends get pregnant, they talk about how tired they are. They talk about the insane number of times they have to pee in a day. They talk about the cute things, like when the baby kicks for the first time.
But they almost never say out loud “my mucus plug came out today and it was gross.” That’s understandable because it can be pretty gross, but it’s certainly not shameful and it should be talked about.
It’s time we embrace all aspects of pregnancy, even the gross parts, to truly honor the miracle that is birth and honor miracle-maker that is YOU!
Are you shy about the more personal aspects of pregnancy? Maybe you have questions but you don’t want to suffer the embarrassment of asking them.
Well, if you have any questions or concerns you should always talk to your doctor. But until you get around to doing that, this guide will help you understand more about the mucus plug.
What is the Mucus Plug?
From the beginning of pregnancy to the end, mucus accumulates around your cervix. This is what makes up the mucus plug. It protects your uterus and your baby from harmful bacteria and pathogens. There are more antimicrobial properties in it than in ordinary cervical mucus. This is the key component that helps this weird little thing protect the uterus and the baby. Think of it like nature’s sanitizer gel for your cervix.
Unlike manmade sanitizers that kill all bacteria, good or bad (think Purell and antibacterial wipes), your mucus plug kills only bad bacteria and retains the good bacteria crucial to both yours and Baby’s health!
So how does this stuff accumulate in your cervix? The increase of estrogen and progesterone helps it form in your cervix. The cervical glands continue to secrete mucus throughout pregnancy. This further solidifies the healthy barrier between your uterus and harmful bacteria.
What does the Mucus Plug Look Like?
If you’ve ever had a nasty cold, you shouldn’t be too bothered by your mucus plug. It’s not much different than the snot you see on the tissue after you blow your nose. It’s a lot like nasal mucus, in both consistency and variance of color.
Before it’s discharged, the mucus plug is thick. By the end of pregnancy, it’s thinned out a lot. By then, it may have already come out and you can see for yourself just what it looks like. It can be clear, white, green, pink, or even a little brown. In most cases, it’s white with pink streaks. It’s not the most pleasant sight in the world.
Just keep in mind – this mucus plug is protecting your baby and keeping her healthy! Who cares what it looks like? It’s your body doing the work for you, which means less worry for you, Momma!
And, grossness aside, it’s all part of the miracle of birth. In the end, through all the weird stuff and the long hours of labor, you get to hold your baby in your arms.
How Big is the Mucus Plug?
The mucus plug isn’t all that big. It’s about 4 to 5 centimeters long after it comes out and about 2 tablespoons while it’s still inside.
It can also come out over time, in smaller parts, so some women have a hard time figuring out if their’s has come out or if it’s just normal discharge.
You can find a surprising number of images on google of real mucus plugs. It’s kind of gross but if you’re super curious about what to expect, you’ll find plenty of examples. It might help you to identify whether you’ve lost yours or not. But it’s important to remember that not every pregnancy is the same. In some cases, the mucus plug doesn’t even come out until the water breaks.
It is possible for the mucus plug to pass early in pregnancy.
If it does, you should seek medical attention right away, as it may be a sign of early labor. When there’s a great increase of estrogen in the body the mucus plug thins out. Then it’s discharged, either in one whole piece or in many small pieces.
It may not be the most pleasant thing to experience but you should keep an eye out for any unusual discharge. You should pay attention to your discharge even in early pregnancy just to make sure your mucus plug doesn’t come out super early. It’s not all that likely but it’s better to be on the safe side.
It’s often more likely for a woman who has given birth before to lose her mucus plug in one piece. Your cervix is a little wider after having given birth, even years down the road. So the mucus plug has more room to come out without there being any blood. If you’ve never given birth before, your mucus plug is more likely to have streaks of blood in it. And that’s normal, so don’t worry.
What Happens After you Lose your Mucus Plug?
Once you lose your mucus plug, labor is imminent.
That does not mean labor will start right away. It could start hours after you lose your mucus plug or it could happen even weeks after.
You could even lose it when your water breaks. Then things start moving more quickly.
In any case, it’s best to call your doctor and let them know what’s happened. They may want you to come in for a quick exam. They may even send you straight to the hospital once they’ve examined you.
From the time you lose your mucus plug to the time of labor, it’s just a waiting game, and it’s a pretty hard game to play. Once you know things are getting started, it can be unnerving to just sit and wait. If you lose your mucus plug early, you should call your doctor right away. You will be going into labor at some point. The earlier you lose it the more urgent it is that you speak to your doctor.
Now you understand the less glamorous part of pregnancy.
The important thing to remember is that the mucus plug protects your uterus and your baby.
It protects them from harmful outside bacteria and pathogens. Even though it’s kind of gross and no one wants to discuss it, it’s function is important.
And don’t panic when your mucus plug comes out. Even if it comes out early, stay calm and call your doctor and they will take care of you and your baby. Besides, just because your mucus plug comes out doesn’t mean labor will start right away. You may still have a long way to go before your baby decides to make it’s way into the world. When you’re full term and your mucus plug does come out, just relax and wait for the excitement of labor to begin.