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Saturday, January 02, 2010

What is the Mucous Plug and what does it do?

What is the mucous plug (or mucus plug)?
The mucous plug is a collection of cervical mucus that seals the opening of the cervix. It keeps bacteria and infection from entering into the cervix, providing a protective barrier for the developing baby.

What does the mucous plug look like?
Some women describe the mucous plug as looking more like the mucous in your nose. It may look like a thick glob of stringy mucous, thicker than what you would see with normal vaginal secretions. If you are close to going into labor you may see pink, brown, or red blood around the edges of the mucous plug. This is called the “bloody show”.

When do you lose your mucous plug?
Some women will lose their mucous plug or part of their mucous plug weeks before they go into labor. Losing your mucous plug does not always mean labor will begin shortly. Keep in mind that even if a woman has begun to dilate, it may be weeks before she actually goes into labor.

However, if you notice blood tinged mucous before your thirty-sixth week of pregnancy, notify your doctor right away.
As your body prepares for labor your cervix will begin to dilate and thin. As your cervix opens up, your mucous plug may fall out. Losing your mucous plug is a good sign that labor is on its way. Though, it could be days or even weeks after you lose your mucous plug before labor actually starts. Many women do not lose their mucous plug at one time; instead, they lose it more gradually. They may notice an increase in vaginal secretions weeks before they go into labor.


Should I call my doctor if I lose my mucous plug?
If you are full term and have lost your mucous plug, there is usually no need to call your doctor. You may lose your mucous plug weeks before labor starts. If you notice regular, timeable contractions after losing your mucous plug, follow your doctor’s protocol for proceeding to Labor and Delivery. If you have a history of preterm labor and you suspect you have lost your mucous plug, call your doctor right away. If you notice blood tinged mucous and are earlier than thirty-six weeks call your doctor immediately. Moreover, you should also call your doctor if you have sudden bright red bleeding. Bleeding can be a sign of placenta previa or placental abruption.

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