Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mucous Plug: Not for the faint of heart

OK listen up people! This blog might just make you weak in the knees, so be warned!

Since you are obviously still reading, (unless you just skipped over the previous sentence above), you are fine reading about big globs of goo. Cool! Let’s get started :-)

Let’s start with a definition of the mucous plug: The mucous plug is a collection of cervical mucous that blocks the opening of the cervix. It provides an added barrier of protection for the baby. It is super thick, (thicker than snot), and can be different shades of color. It may look creamish (varying from white to even tan) in color, and is most often tinged with dark brown, red or pink - due to new or old blood from the cervix. Think of a mixture of (and I really hate putting food and mucous plugs in the same sentence..but)...tapioca pudding and jello. More like Jello. It’s thick, I tell ya! Somebody was nice enough to put their hunk of mucous plug on the internet, and if you search in google images for ‘mucous plug’, I’m sure you will find it very quickly. I’d put it here, but I don’t want to mess with asking permission. Here is a nice picture:


Normally, during the last trimester (and even before), our bodies tend to make copious amounts of vaginal discharge. It can get bad enough that wearing a panty liner is quite helpful. This is not the mucous plug, but women get confused and worried about not being able to distinguish between the two. Some women worry they won’t know if they have lost it, and many worry when the *do* lose it!

I have something very important to tell you:

Don’t worry! Losing your mucous plug is not something that warrants a call to your doctor/midwife. (Unless you have not yet reached 36 weeks - and we’ll talk about that in a minute). You DO NOT have to wrap it up in toilet paper, or put it in a zip-lock baggie and take it up to labor and delivery for further diagnosis. Trust me, the nurses do not care to see your mucous up close and personal, and it does not mean you are IN LABOR :-)

So what does it mean when you lose your plug? Not much! It doesn’t give any indication that your cervix has changed from your last visit. It *can* mean your cervix has changed slightly, but without steady contractions, you are still not in labor. You may lose your plug hours OR EVEN WEEKS before labor begins, so it certainly no indication of when labor will begin. Because the plug is built of cervical secretions, your cervix will continue to secrete mucous, and your plug will *rebuild* itself over a day or two. That is why some women may lose their plug more than once, -and- it is super common to lose bits and pieces over time, only to find more bits and chunks later.

Some women never notice losing their plug. This is fine too! Some women do not lose it until they are well into active labor. Of course, as previously mentioned, some women start losing it weeks before labor. (Hey, we learn by repetition, and that last sentences bears repeating)!

Many are concerned with their activity level after losing their plug. They worry about risk of infection. Some ask if they can still take a bath, or have intercourse. Yes, it is fine. The baby is still protected, and unless your doctor/midwife tells you otherwise (and it’s not going to be because you have lots your plug), you can still continue with ‘normal activities’.


If you are earlier than 36 weeks' pregnant when you see blood-tinged mucus, or if you have any vaginal bleeding, you should call care giver. Better yet, have this conversation prior to 36 weeks. Ask your doctor or midwife what he/she wants you to do if you think you have lost your mucous plug before 36 weeks. Some care providers may want you to call - even after hours, and some may say to wait until morning. Depending on several factors. So let’s talk about what those factors might be:

Intercourse, vaginal exams, and an already dilated cervix may cause you to lose all or part of your plug. So, if you lose your plug after these things, it was probably do to the ‘messing’ around down there. So sometimes, your doctor will tell you not to bother calling if there has been a recent vaginal check or whatever.. BUT, sometimes they tell you to call anyway. So that is why I say, get it all straightened out before hand, so you know what to do/when to call :-) After 36 weeks, there shouldn’t be a reason to call at all. If it makes you feel better you can mention it at your next appointment :-)

That wasn’t so bad was it?

38 comments:

AtYourCervix said...

Thank you for posting about the "dreaded" mucous plug. It really doesn't mean anything to us on L&D, unless you are preterm. Really!

Sharon said...

As an 'educational' site, you may want to do spell check before posting your column. "Loosing" is not a word however you used it several times in your post. Makes your site look unprofessional and I honestly will look elsewhere for information. I don't know many people who would trust information from a site that can't even spell correctly!

Teresa Link said...

Can you answer this question?

If you have bleeding in your pregnancy, does that compromise your mucous plug? FOr example: I have a subchorionic hematoma and have spotted/bled off an one for the last 5 weeks. What is the status of my mucous plug? I am 16 weeks today.

Scambi said...

Wow, your really harping on someone for a simple spelling error. Did you know that most people don't know the difference in using dessert and desert also. The information is still correct and you obviously understood what the poster meant. One extra "o" in losing isn't going to bring the world to an end. Thank you to the blogger for the information, I knew it already, but it is nice to see someone with correct information for once, unlike other sites where it is a pure guess!

Kristen said...

Sharon: Get off your high horse; some pregnant mothers like myself do not give a rats ass about such a petty s**t things as you seem to, just as long as the information is helpful, and this site is...

Do us all a favor and go get knocked up. Better yet, go have some steamy sex, so you can unfreeze that cold brain of yours.

Kristen said...

Teresa: I had a sch last year and believe me it does not affect your mucus plug at all. It'll take about a good 7-8 wks for it to clear out of your uterus, but it'll soon enough go away.

starface said...

Spelling doesn't matter as long as you know the facts. I'm just glad someone was able to tell me about my plug cuz I'm sure my doctor is tired of me calling him all the time

Mommie02 said...

Thank you for this website, im pregnant with baby #2 and still need to know more then i did with my first so Thank you for all your information this was really helpful for me to read and i think most mothers should read it. It's a calm non-confusing way to get knowledge.

missy1979 said...

I also think Sharon is being ridiculous! If she was up at 12:36 am writing a post on the internet, she obviously had nothing better to do than bash someone else to make herself feel better! What a looser....oooops, I mean loser! I found the article information tremendously helpful and educational, thank you so much for posting it!

KR0809 said...

smh@ Sharon, Blogger I thin this was very helpful. I honestly didnt even notice the misspelling and I am about to get my Masters degree. Hey i guess no one here is your english professor you relayed very helpful information as my mucus plug just happened today and was like OMG what is that lol. Thanks Blogger!!!!!!!!

Brittanie Bautista said...

Holy crap... Seriously! I found this information very helpful and with the way my almost 40 week pregnant brain has been working I didn't even noticed the spelling errors. Thank you kindly ma'am! I just realized I spelt notice with an unnecessary 'd' >.<

Lisa said...

I am 21 weeks. I have a history of dilating early in my pregnancies (this is my 6th) and am usually put on bedrest by 28 weeks. I lost a big, glop of mucous (very thick and about the size of a quarter or bigger)a couple days ago, the morning after intercourse. It was not blood-tinged. I have not been contracting regularly. Do you think I should be concerned. Unless I start contracting regularly, I wonder if I could wait till my next apt. which will be @ 24 wks. to tell my doctor.

Ellen Vollor said...

Well, if anyone cared to check, loosing is a word, and used correctly in this context. The word 'losing' is used as an adjective. By the way, thank you for the information. My daughter's friend is due in December and is worried about the "plug". I told her not to worry, it will come out when it wants to and she may never even see it.

Charleen Hastings said...

I just reread the blog 3 more times and each time I read it read it slower and slower using my index.finger to point to each letter which gives me visual cues as to where I am supposed to be looking.
After re-reading I was so happy that I did NOT find the wording loosing at all. Stop harrassing people and grow up.

jessyvfel said...

I'm 37 weeks 4 cm dilated and 95%95% effaced and just lost my mucus plug over the course of the last two days.. I spoke to my doc about it and she said it meant nothing. She said because I've been dilated for a few weeks now she said I probably lost it once already but didn't notice. Thanks for the post... everyone I know told me it meant that I would be going into labor soon because they did but now I know that's not the case.

city said...

thanks for sharing.

even one sparrow said...

Thank you for this post. There's basically no information like this on most of the baby sites, and I've always been confused about the mucus plug. Last time, I lost the plug at 39 weeks but then was induced due to some other reasons. This time I am 36 weeks and I noticed I am starting to lose it. It seemed really early to me, but after reading this post, I have nothing to worry about. Thanks.

Unknown said...

To Sharon: I'm a grammar nazi, too! I have learned, however, that most people don't like to have their spelling and grammar corrected--ever. "Loosing" is a word, though an uncommon one. I agree that frequent spelling mistakes make a webpage seem less professional, but you have to be able to discern quality information on the internet regardless of grammatical errors. It is the internet, after all.
And no, Ellen, "losing" is not an adjective in this case. That would be something like, "the losing team was upset." This usage of "losing" is a verb. "Loosing" is also a verb and could debatably be used in this article as a present participle of "to loose" (i.e., to set free, release or unfasten), however this implies specific intent to dislodge, such as a woman purposefully removing her own mucus plug. "Loosing" is not appropriate when the intended verb can be conjugated as "lost" (e.g., "I lost my plug").
Thanks, blogger, for your informative article.
Can we all play nicely now? :)

Antoinette Cousins said...

Thanks for sharing that information. I am on my forth pregnancy but never lost mine until this one. I was scared I already went to the doctors but they said not to worry and sent me home. Who really cares about spelling when the info is so much more needed especially when it is new to you and your scared.

Dee said...

Please bear with me grammar police!

Im 16 weeks today. Yesterday I had intercourse with my man and this morning I woke up at 5 to use the bathroom, when I wiped and had a clear sticky discharge. Im worried because my doctors appointment isnt for another week and a half, however its 10 30 a.m now and my discharge seems to be normal no more sticky mucous like discharge its back to being "my normal" Anyone care to share some advice and maybe calm down this first time mamma to be who seems to be freaking out a tad?

kinney13 said...

I love this post:)

Lisa said...

I noticed quite a few spelling errors, but I am a lierature and OCD type person and always notice. I also create many with my fat fingers on my phone :) I have to say as someone who notices this stuff, I find it rude and irritating to correct or judge others. It was obvious what each mispelled word was meant to be and the blog is very informative. Yes,, I notice errors but so what.

BChristi said...

Semen... My man's juices stay up in there for a while unless I use the bathroom right after sex. 16 weeks you definitely wouldn't be losing your plug.

grammabarb54 said...

Loosing | Define Loosing at Dictionary.com
dictionary.reference.com/browse/loosing‎
Loosing definition, free or released from fastening or attachment: a loose end. See more.

Leah Garcia said...

My midwide took a i.e on my vagina after that i secret some bloods with a mucus is it labor bcoz of the blood secreting and im 4cm.but i do not feel any pain or contractions as they call it.this my second baby and i feel like im first timer after i urge myself to have a new baby after 8 years gap on my first one.

Leah Garcia said...

June 24 2O13 is my duedate and yet i m still pregnant i might afraid that i gone overdue is it possible to adjust more days i dont feel any pain to go labor and im vey worried help pls and im 4cm.

Kaitlyn Burton said...

Pregnancy can go on a couple weeks past the due date, but most doctor's offices won't let you go past 41 weeks. A mid-wife, however, may let you go a bit longer. As long as you & baby are doing well, don't worry about it. :)

~LittleMaria~ said...

These comments are hilarious...Sharon the grammar nazi needs to loosen up. Blogger needs to refrain from using cuss words when she replies to people who take issue with what she writes (even if "Sharon" is being way too critical of a simple grammatical error).
You are the blogger, you sound like you know what you're talking about. No need to discredit yourself by using a couple of cuss words like a highschool kid on Facebook.
Play nice girls lol.

NiMi83 said...

Where does the blogger comment with cuss words?

Candice Ericksen said...

I am a Nurse, mother of 4 and Nana of 5, Soon to be 6, and Honestly.....the idea of mispelling a few words does Not make accurate information less accurate, I am a horrible speller and also use run on sentences, but that does not negate my 6 yrs of college, 2 degrees, soon to be three as I'm working on a second Bacheloriate. I have Always suggested the books, written by nurses, "What to expect when you're expecting" and "What to expect the first year" I found these Very helpful, and made sure each of my daughters had a copy of each. That said, if you are worried in the middle of the night a sight such as this is Wonderful! If you feel you can't trust the info because of misoellings the check another site!! But judging something as inaccurate because of spelling......Is a bit narrow minded! Like I said I still have issues with spelling and my IQ is 143 (that's pretty high, for those who don't know) and Here is another little ditty you might not know, Your Wonderful Spell check, was Not made with Any Medical term word knowledge! And is far from Perfect! But Please.....Like I said.....Look Elsewhere if you feel the Need, but don't bash someone for trying to get out clear, understandable information for the average Jane be Pregnant! If you feel the need for perfect, than I'm afraid you'll be disappointed because I find minor errors in Books, that's right Published Books that have been written, maybe Spell checked by the Author, then Definitely Proof Read before printing, yet still Not Perfect!

Jessica Gonzalez said...

Im 35 weeks pregnant 2cm dilated and been havin contractiona pretty bad.. They like 8-9 mins apart nd i can c my stomach tightening. I was n.a hot bath.nd these.xhuncks.came out. Coukd it be my mucus plug?

Melissa Nuehring said...

As a first time mom-to-be, I am thankful for this information. As far as the spelling error, I mispelled the exact same word in all of my yearbooks 13 years ago. My English average was always a perfect 100. Funny that it's such a bug deal for some. Lol... big*

cassiegee said...

This info was very helpful, best site I have found so far.
But if anyone can help - I'm 40weeks today and they did my first internal this morning, I am finding smeared blood which I think is now part of my mucus plug, but I'm getting what feels like period cramps every so often, and feeling like I need to poo...is this a sign of early labour, or just the result from the internal?
Again this site was very helpful - thankyou

Anastasia Scates said...

After I have my internal exams I get false labor pains. I'm 41 weeks a few days myself. I would worry if the pains get close together but at 40 weeks your baby should be about ready to go

cassiegee said...

Turns out I gave birth 2 days later to a beautiful daughter. I do think the internal did encourage my labour to start, plus I was also 9days over due (wasn't 40weeks in above comment, my mistake). All the best Anastasia going to be such a beautiful time in your life, im sure u will but take plenty of photos, as they change everyday :) enjoy

justamom said...

I am exactly 16 weeks pregnant today... had pap smear today which made me a wee bit uncomfy down there today and just lost my plug... im thinking its just from pap and have ultrasound tommorrow anyway, not bleeding or anything at all but it was 100% my mucus plug have to babies already... of course it had me a wee bit worried so thanks for the post :)

Valensa said...

I read the post and found it to be the most useful and straight forward of them all. Seriously when you are looking for answers little details such as the tense of a word are understood. Unless you are getting paid to critique then do that in a more professional manner. Directly email the author with suggestions.

nick stephenson said...

I think that Sharon lady should sit on a fatt one and rotate. . . . Hahahaha