The mucus plug can indicate that labor is near. When it loosens and comes out, there is not much time left of you being pregnant. Often, the birth of your child occurs within a week of losing the mucus plug, although it can take a much longer or shorter time than that. In any case, you know that the process has begun. It gives you a chance to prepare a little extra if you have not already done so. But how do you know that the mucus plug has discharged? What does it look like? In this article, I share pictures of my mucus plug and give other examples of what it looks like.
NOTE! I want to remind you that I am not a trained healthcare professional and that the information below should not be used as healthcare advice. Always contact a healthcare professional if you have questions or concerns.
What Exactly Is A Mucus Plug?
It does not sound very sophisticated, and in fact, the meaning is literal. It is a plug made of mucus, which is very important for you to have a fully developed, healthy baby.
All women have a type of mucus plug that comes out along with menstruation. It is formed along the bottom of the uterus and around the cervix, where the uterus and vagina meet. This mucus is dissolved during ovulation so that the sperm can pass through. But when you are pregnant, mucus continues to form. It is not rejected.
Around the fourth week, the mucus becomes thicker and forms a clot. It acts as a kind of barrier between the uterus and the vagina. As your pregnancy progresses, it becomes thicker. It can sometimes be mixed with a little blood.
When you go for an examination at the gynecologist, he can see or feel this mucus plug. That is another sign that you are expecting a baby. This stopper is important so that bacteria does not come up and damage the uterus or your baby. It is a closed door, albeit a soft one.
What Does The Mucus Plug Look Like?
Often the mucus plug is brownish or pink. But it can also be red, watery, or sticky. It can be a solid color or striped. It can vary quite a bit from woman to woman. Not everyone even experiences knowing that the mucus plug has fallen out.
My Mucus Plug (Second Birth)
At first, I did not realize that it was my mucus plug that came out. This was my second pregnancy, and I never saw it with my first daughter Alia. It may be because I was two weeks overdue when the process began. I was ready to give birth again, this time with Mila, but only one day after the due date due to severe pelvic girdle pain.
You can see more pictures of mucus plugs further down the post.
How big is the Mucus plug?
The mucus plug can be different sizes for different people. The size also depends on whether it comes in batches or if everything comes at once. My plug was about the size of a thumb, but I think a little ended up in the toilet, too (it came out when I was on the toilet).
Is it normal with a bloody Mucus Plug?
Yes, that’s perfectly normal. As you can see in the picture above, mine was brownish with blood. However, you should talk to your midwife if you have bleeding in connection with the mucus plug.
When does the Mucus plug come out?
The mucus plug usually comes off a few weeks to a few days before the due date. It can also come loose during childbirth. The mucus plug is there throughout the pregnancy or most of it. As labor begins to approach, the cervix dilates. Then the mucus plug usually comes out. You may feel it or see a lump in your panties. Some people notice it during a toilet visit. It comes out in the form of discharge.
There are many signs that childbirth is approaching. You have a calculated date based on when you had your last menstrual period so that you have an approximate time when the baby will arrive. But this date is not guaranteed at all. Two weeks before or after that day is considered normal. But it is also common for the baby to arrive earlier or for you to be overdue.
To have a better idea of when it may be time, it is important to know what is happening in your body. The fact that the mucus plug is moving is not a sign that the birth is underway.
How long is it until labor starts when the Mucus plug is out?
There may be a few weeks left when the mucus plug comes out. But it is at least a reminder that there is not much time left. The mucus plug comes out as a sign that you should be ready. If you have not already done so, now is the time to prepare everything to go into labor. Sometimes you only have a few days before birth. Other times it takes a few weeks. But in any case, you know that it is not a matter of months.
You do not need to head to delivery, but pay attention to other signs. Sometimes the mucus comes out gradually and can even be part of the birth stage itself. You may not notice clearly when the mucus plug goes.
Childbirth is a gradual process. When you become pregnant, your body begins to form proper protection around your baby. It should be allowed to lie there in peace and quiet to grow. Several mechanisms prevent the baby from coming out prematurely and prevent bacteria from entering.
As the day approaches, the body must make preparations for the baby to come out. Throughout your pregnancy, you have had contractions. But now, they will start to get stronger, and you will feel them more often. They cause the cervix to begin to thin out until it is virtually obliterated. Then the opening becomes large enough that the mucus plug usually comes out. Not everyone notices it clearly, but it is part of the gradual events.
The sign that the birth has actually started is when your water breaks. Then it’s time to call your midwife and ask what to do. If you experience bleeding in connection with the mucus plug coming loose, you should also call them immediately. There are so many things that must come together for the baby to be born. Several small and slightly larger things let you know that now is the time.
If the Mucus plug comes out early in pregnancy
If your mucus plug comes loose early in pregnancy, it is a good idea to contact your midwife for advice. As the plug has an important function during pregnancy, it can be good to check that everything is ok.
How open are you when the Mucus plug discharge?
You are not completely open when the mucus plug comes out, maybe barely at all. But you have to be extra careful, so you do not get an infection. That is one reason why it is not recommended that pregnant women bathe in public pools at the end of the third trimester.
During the first stage of childbirth, the cervix opens at a steady pace, about half a centimeter per hour, until it is ten centimeters open. Then the baby can come out. If you have already given birth, the process goes faster, opening up about double the speed. However, all this happens during childbirth and not when the mucus plug comes loose.
What happens during a membrane sweep?
Membrane sweeps normally take place around week 39-40, but they can generally be done from week 37.
It has become common to do a membrane sweep if you do not want to be overdue. For some women, it is best if the birth starts on time. They may feel unwell, while others simply want some control over arrival. It’s not that fun to be overdue. You are often tired and heavy, and it may be best to help the baby on the way.
A doctor or midwife should perform a membrane sweep. They insert a finger and sweep over the membranes of the cervix between the amniotic membrane and the inside of the uterine wall. That then stimulates the body to start giving birth. Everything must be sterile during the procedure so that no infection can occur.
For the best results, the membrane sweep must usually be repeated. That is done at intervals of two to three days until you feel that labor has begun. If the baby is not facing the right direction, you can not do a membrane sweep.
Can the Mucus plug come out after a membrane sweep?
In connection with a membrane sweep, many people notice the mucus plug come out. The cervix should now be dilated so that the baby can be born. You may also have had a mucus plug already that has come out without you noticing it or a “new” one coming out through the membrane sweep.
During a membrane sweep, the amniotic membranes are separated from the lower part of the uterus. It stimulates the body to produce a hormone, which is needed for labor to begin. Virtually everything in the body is controlled by various hormones when you are expecting a baby. That is one of the reasons why a membrane sweep can work so well.
The hormone that affects birth makes you dilate, and the pains become more intense. Most people have discharge or minor bleeding. It can hurt so much so that you have to take painkillers. If the pain is too great, you should consult a doctor.
Usually, a membrane sweep is not done until you are ready to give birth. It is there to prevent women from going overdue. Therefore, it is not so strange if the mucus plug comes out and the birthing process begins. Many do the membrane sweep when they have reached week 40, but some begin to stimulate and try to start childbirth in week 37.
The benefits of having a mucus plug
It is important to protect the baby and also the mother from infections. Considering how many months the child grows in the womb, it is fantastic that it is going so well. A small, seemingly insignificant thing like a mucus plug can do great good. It is that combination of different devices in the body that makes it all work.
When the hormones tell the body that it’s time to give birth, many functions are affected – everything from your brain down to the mucus plug. It is a completely natural process, albeit a tiring one. Most women are so happy when the birth starts because they can finally become reasonably normal again.
For both mother and child to feel good, birth takes place gradually. It does not matter how awkward and tired you are. When it’s time, the baby comes out, but not too soon. A membrane sweep can be performed if it takes too long, especially if the mother is unwell and the pregnancy becomes dangerous.
How does it feel when the mucus plug comes out?
Some women do not feel it when the mucus plug falls out. They have several types of discharge during pregnancy, and sometimes even a few drops of blood. Sometimes the cervix can open early, as early as the third month in some women. Then it is extra important to be careful when the baby grows and becomes heavier.
The mucus is something that is always formed. Whether you are pregnant or not, the body produces mucus around the cervix. It protects your uterus and everything in it. At the same time, hormones control the process of getting pregnant. Therefore, the mucus is thinned out so that the man’s semen can get through.
When you get pregnant, there is no reason to thin out the mucus. On the contrary, it is getting thicker and thicker. Finally, the mucus plug becomes a stopper that protects everything in your womb. Sometimes you can actually see a large lump of mucus coming out. It can be quite large. Because it is soft and flabby, it is compressed and forms the important barrier.
If you do not know about this with the mucus plug, you may be scared when it comes out. It can be a thick plug that may be mixed with some blood. But it is a completely natural part of pregnancy, and above all, the birth.
The mucus plug is a faithful companion throughout the time you are expecting a baby. But when it comes out, you know that the day when you will see your baby is near.
Some people will be disappointed when the birth does not start right away. It can happen. Many give birth within a few days, perhaps after a week. But there are no guarantees. You can not be sure that the birth will really start then. That there is not that much time left is certain, so stay ready.
Common questions (FAQ):
Here I have gathered the answers to some common questions.
Mucus plug or discharge – how do you know?
The answer is that you do not know for sure. It is common for the mucus plug to release in batches, but it can also come out all at once. In addition, pregnant women often have heavy discharge at the end of pregnancy.
Can the mucus plug be regenerated?
Yes! You may have had more than one mucus plug. If it came out earlier, but the birth did not start, another may have formed.
Can the mucus plug come out in several batches or pieces?
Yes, that is the most common. Many people do not even notice that the mucus plug has passed because it has gradually come out. Because pregnant women have abundant discharge, the mucus plug can pass completely unnoticed.
More pictures of mucus plugs
Here are pictures of different mucus plugs. This is not something for sensitive people, but I think that you may still want to know what the mucus plug looks like as a pregnant woman.
Bloody mucus plug (fresh blood)
Brown mucus plug (coagulated blood)
Pink mucus plug
Transparent mucus plug
Getting ready for a calm and safe birth
Giving birth is a very special experience. It hurts, and you’re scared, but at the same time, it’s one of the most amazing things a woman can experience. To make it a little easier for yourself, you can read on. Talk to your midwife about what is happening in your body and what you can expect.
Your midwife may suggest that you do a membrane sweep if there are no signs that the birth is underway and you have exceeded the estimated date. First, they will do an ultrasound examination to see where the placenta is located. When the membranes disappear, the mucus plug can also come out. Step by step, you will get closer to the birth itself.
It is exciting when the mucus plug comes loose, especially if you notice it in a more pronounced way. Your body begins to prepare for childbirth, and you can be mentally ready. When all the other signs start to come, everything is under control. It may not feel like it right then, but all this is completely natural.
Good luck! Regards Sofia and Rodrigo.