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    Losing the Mucus Plug: What to Do Next

    Updated 27 August 2021 |
    Published 23 December 2019
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Olga Adereyko, MD, Primary Care Physician, General Practitioner, Medical Consultant
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    Every piece of content at Flo Health adheres to the highest editorial standards for language, style, and medical accuracy. To learn what we do to deliver the best health and lifestyle insights to you, check out our content review principles.

    Knowing when your body is ready to deliver your baby can sometimes seem like a mystery and a waiting game. While there are a number of signs that labor is coming soon, is losing your mucus plug one of them?

    Read on to learn about the mucus plug and what role it plays in pregnancy and labor.  

    What is the mucus plug?

    The mucus plug is a little like a cork. It seals the opening to your cervix, where the baby is growing. Along with the amniotic sac, it protects your baby from any potential bacterial or other types of infections. The mucus plug forms in the early stage of pregnancy as the cervix creates a thick fluid to protect the area. 

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    Losing the mucus plug is just one sign that delivery is approaching. More specifically, it means your cervix is softening in preparation for childbirth. As it softens, it also widens, and this dislodges the mucus plug from the entrance of the cervical canal, pushing it down into the vagina. 

    Although a lost mucus plug is a sign that labor is near, the question of just how near depends on the individual person. Some women deliver within hours of losing their mucus plug, and others deliver several weeks later. It’s important to look for other signs to determine if you’re going into labor.

    How do you know you’ve lost the mucus plug?

    Even though every woman loses their mucus plug at some point before delivery, it’s not always obvious. It’s not usually painful, either, although it is possible to experience some lower abdominal pain similar to cramping felt during menstruation. If you do notice the mucus plug, you’ll see that it is a sticky, gelatinous glob of mucus that’s thicker than regular vaginal discharge. Roughly the size of a quarter, it is equivalent to about 2 tablespoons of mucus.

    Because most women produce more vaginal discharge during pregnancy than at other times, the mucus plug may be difficult to detect. Still, for many it looks noticeably different from typical discharge. It’s much thicker and can look stringy and jelly-like. Even though it’s often clear, it can also come in other colors. It may be cloudy or yellowish or be tinged pink or brown with blood. This just means that the cervix is becoming more effaced and dilated, causing blood vessels to rupture. If you are 37 weeks or more in your pregnancy, this is completely normal and a healthy sign of pre-labor.

    Even though every woman loses their mucus plug at some point before delivery, it’s not always obvious. It’s not usually painful, either, although it is possible to experience some lower abdominal pain similar to cramping felt during menstruation.