A mucus plug examination

Mucus Plugs and Labor

Mucus plugs are a completely normal part of pregnancy. Although the shape, size, consistency, and color may vary from woman to woman, the cervical mucus plug’s purpose does not. Not only does it prevent bacteria from getting to the uterus and the gestating baby, it also can deliver certain antimicrobial agents, much like mucus in the respiratory system (specifically the nose) does. 

How do I know if my mucus plug came out?

Many women mistake the increase of vaginal secretions during the end stage of pregnancy for the release of the mucus plug. This, however, is a separate (albeit similar) reaction to the hormones that are telling your body it’s almost time. It can make it doubly difficult if the mucus plug comes out in bits and pieces—not every woman even notices that her mucus plug is being released. However, in most cases, what you’re looking for is a roughly cervical canal shaped and sized glob of mucus that may be white or tan, occasionally with a slight tinge of pink or brown. 

What does it mean if my plug came out?

Generally, not much unless there are other signs of labor, like your water breaking or contractions. Essentially, it just means that the cervix is dilating and thinning out in preparation for labor, and so the mucus plug has slipped out. If it isn’t quite time for labor, another mucus plug may form in its place, so it isn’t unusual to notice multiple mucus plugs. However, if it appears well before your due date, especially with a lot of blood, it probably means you need to call the doctor. 

What do I do?

Again, if the mucus plug has come out before the 36th week, most experts recommend seeking professional help to make sure everything is still okay. However, if you’ve hit the nine month mark and are just chugging along waiting for labor to come in full, just keep doing what you’re doing. Since it is a pretty good indicator that labor might be close, it’s important to pay attention to your body for other signs of labor, like spurts of energy, your water breaking, or contractions. If you’re concerned, it doesn’t hurt to call the doctor to make sure everything is okay. Stay calm and keep yourself healthy while you wait for the big day.

Last Updated: October 29, 2015