If you’re pregnant you have to become familiar with your body real fast. There are a lot of changes happening and it’s important that you keep up so you know what to expect and when something is going wrong. One of the things you probably didn’t know about before you were pregnant, but you’re now probably aware of, is the concept of the mucus plug.
It does sound kind of weird, but the mucus plug performs a very important function.
What is it?
The mucus plug is like a protective layer of mucus in the cervical canal. It’s meant to protect your baby from any germs outside. It’s another protective layer in addition to the amniotic sac. There are antibodies in the mucus that can deal with germs and viruses, and progesterone thickens the mucus. The mucus is produced by the cervix and over time, it becomes thick and jelly-like.
Usually, when you lose your mucus plug, it’s an indication that your isn’t too far off.
How does that happen?
Losing your mucus plug is basically what it sounds like, a small amount of mucus will exit your body. You might not even feel or notice it. Also, it doesn’t mean you can expect your to start today or tomorrow. It could be weeks. It’s simply an early indication to prepare for .
As your body prepares for , the mucus plug is pushed out, because the cervix is softening and dilating in preparation. Sometimes it can be expelled all at once, but for some women it comes out in bits. It can be yellowish (but also white or beige) and possibly contain a bit of blood from the blood vessels in your cervix. This is why losing the mucus plug is often said to occur in conjunction with the bloody show, which is when you find a little blood exiting your body as well.
The presence of blood is actually considered quite normal, but nonetheless, if you’re worried about something, you should call your doctor. Heavy bleeding at this stage, for example, isn’t normal.
When the plug is expelled, you might feel a little pain, but nothing more than a bit of cramping. Some women don’t feel it at all.
What else can you expect?
Losing your mucus plug isn’t the only symptom of impending. Along with that, you should watch out for some other symptoms as well.
- Ruptured membranes
Ruptured membranes refer to when your water breaks, or the amniotic sac is ruptured and the amniotic fluid will drip out. You can expect your contractions to start soon after this (if they don’t, you might have to have an induced , to minimise risk of infection).
This is when your baby drops a little lower in your pelvis, and it does press into your bladder a little more. It might make it easier for you to breathe, however.
Effacement refers to when your cervix becomes thinner and stretches out a bit more to prepare for . This is something that will likely be confirmed by a cervical check on the part of your doctor.
When your cervix dilates or opens up, you’re ready to give birth. This is usually at 10 centimeters of dilation.
You probably knew this one was coming. When you start to have evenly-timed, regular, and strong contractions, it’s time to get ready to actually give birth. Get in a car and get to the hospital asap!
The mucus plug isn’t the only indication of impending labor, but it is an important one. It’s also one that, if you notice, gives you some time to prepare, since your baby is not yet at risk of anything (until your amniotic sac ruptures). So you can still proceed as normal, even have baths and maybe even sex (depending on the advice of your doctor). Unless you experience a lot of bleeding or your mucus smells bad, or you’re worried your water has also broken, there’s no need to panic.
So you can lie back and relax. Just make sure your hospital bag is packed (unless you’re having a home birth, then make sure all your required equipment is ready). You never know when things are going to get serious!