The Mucus Plug During Pregnancy: 5 Questions and Answers

If you're pregnant and don't know what the mucus plug is, read this article to learn all about it.
The Mucus Plug During Pregnancy: 5 Questions and Answers

Last update: 17 February, 2021

The mucus plug during pregnancy is something normal. Therefore, you should know what it is, and you should be able to recognize it. Sometimes, women see the mucus plug and become concerned about it, because they don’t know what it is. Other times, they don’t know what it could mean to lose it too soon. Finally, some women may not even realize the mucus plug is discharged into the vagina.

In this article, we’ll talk about the mucus plug to help you understand that it’s part of the pregnancy process and of the preparation for delivery. We’ll also tell you what you have to do in case it’s discharged. After reading these questions and answers, you’ll have a better understanding of what we’re talking about.  

1. What is the mucus plug during pregnancy?

You already know what the uterus, the fetus and the placenta are. But, what is the mucus plug and what does it do exactly? According to Dr. Mitchell Kramer, Chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Long Island’s Huntington Hospital, “the mucus plug is a mucus seal that acts as a barrier between the vaginal environment which contains bacteria and the sterile environment inside the uterus where the pregnancy sac and fetus reside.”

The Mucus Plug During Pregnancy: 5 Questions and Answers

This mucus protects the pregnancy and the fetus from bacteria that don’t belong inside, and it really does act like a “plug” to keep harmful bacteria away from the uterus. 

Therefore, it plays a very important role during pregnancy, because it protects the developing baby.

2. When and how does it fall out?

First of all, the mucus plug doesn’t always fall out of your body and land in your underwear. This can happen, but not to every woman. According to Dr. Kramer, when a patient is at term, 37 weeks or beyond gestation, as the cervix changes (softens and thins), the mucus plug falls out.

This can happen during or before labor. However, if a woman passes the mucus plug, it doesn’t necessarily mean she’s in labor.

3. If the mucus plug falls out, is it possible not to be in labor?

Labor can occur before losing the mucus plug or remotely afterwards. It’s not dangerous to discharge the mucus plug before being in labor. It just means that it won’t take too long until that happens. The mucus plug during pregnancy is usually a grayish, brown, jelly-like substance that comes out from your vagina. Sometimes, it may contain tinges of blood in it.

The mucus plug may not fall out all at once. It could fall put in bits and pieces over a period of time. Most women lose their mucus plug before their water breaks. If your water breaks or you’re leaking fluid, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. 

It’s important to bear in mind that just because you lose your mucus plug, it doesn’t mean you’re going into labor. So, if it happens, you shouldn’t be scared. Nevertheless, if you have questions or feel strange symptoms, visit your obstetrician.

The Mucus Plug During Pregnancy: 5 Questions and Answers

4. Can you remove your mucus plug?

You should never pull out your mucus plug, because you may cause an infection. Just let nature take its course. You shouldn’t rush things when it comes to labor. Nature is wise, so you’ll know when then time comes.

5. Is the mucus plug the same as the “bloody show”?

The mucus plug can be confused with the “bloody show”, which can make women worry. However, they’re not the same thing. According to Medical News Today, the bloody show (thick vaginal discharge, which contains mucus and blood from the cervix) occurs in late pregnancy, as the body prepares for labor.

Finally, having bloody show and losing the mucus plug are closely related events, but they’re not the same thing. The mucus plug is transparent and contains little or no blood, while bloody show is a mixture of blood and mucus.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.