For some of us, there’s no mystery whether or not our mucus plug has come out; for others, it’s a unanswered question until baby’s head emerges, because we never see it. For some of us, it’s just yellowish, a little green, or almost clear, thick mucus; for others, the mucus plug comes with varying amounts of blood. But there’s little mystery about what it means when your mucus plug comes out in late pregnancy: it’s time to get ready.
If you haven’t read our other posts on your mucus plug, let’s recap. Your mucus plug is also called your cervical plug because it’s composed of thick cervical mucus that filled your cervix right after your baby began to develop. It keeps bacteria from your vagina from entering your sterile womb, and has anti-bacterial properties that inhibit bacteria growth.
It has to come out before baby can come out! And it comes out because your hormone levels change, causing your cervix to change shape and size. When that happens, the mucus plug no longer fits, and it falls out. But having sex or a vaginal exam can also dislodge it.
Many people use mucus plug, cervical plug, and bloody show interchangeably. The difference between your mucus/cervical plug and the bloody show isn’t huge, but it’s distinct.
When your mucus plug comes out in late pregnancy – after you’re 37 weeks or more – you can count on it as a sign it’s nearly time for baby to be born. You’ll want to make sure your birth plan is complete by this time.
WHEN YOUR MUCUS PLUG COMES OUT BUT YOU DON’T HAVE CONTRACTIONS
The loss of your mucus plug signals your body is making changes, but labor (probably) isn’t going to happen today. If you’re lucky enough to notice this sign, your labor could still be as much as two weeks away.
It’s your signal to finish your birth preference research, write your final birth plan, make plans for who is doing what during your birth. Now’s the time to write your hospital bag checklist so you have what you need at the hospital or birthing center.
Unless your midwife or doctor has said to let them know, you probably don’t need to call them and can just let them know at your next prenatal visit. If your bloody show is bright red, or if you continue to bleed more than one ounce (about 2 tablespoons), then your care provider definitely needs to know.
WHEN YOUR MUCUS PLUG COMES OUT AND YOU HAVE CONSISTENT CONTRACTIONS
Rhythmic contractions in combination with some mucus plug loss tends to be a sign that you may be going into active labor.
If you still need to make plans for your birth, now’s the time to get those done. If you’re going to the hospital or birthing center, now’s the time to pack everything into your hospital bag, and make sure your latest version of your birth plan is included. Do you still need to arrange for pets, plants, or people? It’s time to make those calls!
Losing your mucus plug in late pregnancy may not be the prettiest thing in the world, but it’s a pretty good sign that baby is almost ready. Are you?
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Published: December 8, 2015 | By SP Turgon, Certified Labor Doula | Reviewed by: Kim Walls, Natural Products Expert, Elizabeth Bachner, LM, CPM, L.Ac., Midwife | Last reviewed: December, 2015