The mucus plug (also known as the operculum) is a thick glob of cervical mucus that blocks the cervical canal during pregnancy. The mucus plug prevents bacteria from getting inside the uterus and keeps the uterus sterile for the developing baby. Before the baby is born, the mucus plug is expelled to allow the baby to pass through the cervix.
What does a mucus plug look like? The mucus is usually thick, clear and sticky. It can look similar to nasal mucus, but is usually thicker. Towards the end of the pregnancy, as the cervix starts to efface in preparation for labour, the mucus may be tinged pink or slightly bloodied. It is sometimes known as a “bloody show”. Some women lose their mucus plug all at once, but for most it is a gradual process.Many women don’t even notice it happening due to the increase in vaginal secretions.
I’ve passed my mucus plug, is labour imminent? I hate to disappoint you, but passing the mucus plug is not a clear indication that labour is about to start. In fact, some women pass their mucus plug weeks before going into labour. However, passing the mucus plug does mean that your body is starting to prepare for labour. If you have passed your mucus plug before going into labour, your cervix will continue to secrete mucus and then plug will rebuild itself. Amazing, right? Some women even report losing their mucus plug more than once. Some women will only lose their mucus plug when they are in the throes of labour, and this is totally fine too.
Should I call my healthcare provider? If the mucus is clear, tinged pink or slightly bloodied, then there is no need to contact your healthcare provider. There is also no need to keep a sample of your mucus plug to show to your healthcare provider at your next appointment. However, you should mention to your healthcare provider that you have passed the plug when you next see them. If your mucus plug is bright red in colour, or excessive in quantity (more than two tablespoons), you should contact your healthcare provider immediately. These symptoms can be indicative of more serious conditions including placenta previa or placental abruption. If you see blood-tinged mucus before the 36th week of your pregnancy, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.