10 Facts You Should Know About a Mucus Plug

1. What is a mucus plug?

At the very beginning of pregnancy some mucus is accumulated in the uterine cervix generated by the uterus during ovulation. As the mucus thickens, it seals the cervix tightly, blocking the way for any infection from the vagina to the cervix and thereby protecting the fetus.

Human mucus plug is formed from the cervical glands secretion. It is a thick, gelatinous mass that fills the entire cervical canal. It’s formed at the end of the first month of pregnancy, when the ovum is implanted in the uterine cavity: at this time the cervix softens, swells and gets filled with the cervical mucus produced by the cells of the cervix. With each ovulation it thickens to form rather dense clot blocking the entrance to the uterus.

Secretion of cervical glands is constantly supported by a high level of estrogen and progestin which are the hormones responsible for the fetal development. Thus, the plug isn’t formed from the thick liquid, which was generated from the beginning of pregnancy. The secretion of the cervical cells takes place on a continuous basis and the cervix mucus plug always remains “fresh”. It completely fills the uterine cervix leaving no gaps between the uterine walls. The mucus contains antibodies which help the immune system to counteract pathogens like bacteria, fungus, etc.

2. Images of mucus plug: what does it look like?


The mucus plug looks like a piece of mucus or jelly and to some women it can even resemble what does a mucus plug look likea jellyfish. Basically, the size of mucus plug is rather small, 4-5 cm long (when in the uterine cervix) or about two tablespoons (when it comes out). In fact, the discharge can be even smaller in size since it can come out in parts.

Usually, the color of mucus plug is white-yellowish, sometimes with blood admixture or streaks of pink or pure white. There can be some variants including beige, taupe or even brown mucus plug. All these colors are considered as variants of the norm.

The blood streaks in the plug can be observed rather often since the uterine cervix expands before labor and that can lead to bursting of capillaries. Still, there shouldn’t be any bleeding. If passing the plug is accompanied by rather heavy blood-tinged discharge of scarlet color, then you should contact your doctor immediately.

3. When does the plug come out?


mucus plugBefore labor starts, the balance of female hormones changes. The number of estrogens significantly increases compared with the quantity of gestogen. That is, the process of fetal development is considered to be completed and so it’s canceled. Under the influence of estrogen the plug gets thin and then passes.

Thus, passing of the plug indicates that labor is getting on regardless of the gestational age. Premature labor starts the same way as physiological or postmature delivery. So, the mucus plug discharge during early pregnancy indicates that something has gone wrong in the body of the pregnant woman and she needs to see a doctor since in this case passing the plug can be a sign of early labor.

4. How does a woman lose the mucus plug?


Losing the mucus plug is somewhat different for nonparous and multiparous women. The fact is that the cervix of nonparous pregnant women has a smaller diameter compared to those women who experienced the process of childbirth. The uterine cervix walls are thick enough to keep the mucus so firmly that the plug passes with blood (from ruptured blood vessels) or by parts. At the same time some prenatal structural changes of the cervical canal take place accompanied by separation of epithelial cells. This can come with slight bleeding. Therefore nulliparous pregnant women can observe streaks of blood in the thick secretions.

In parous women the inner surface of the cervical canal is rather elastic. The surface epithelium is loosened and the intercellular space is able to stretch. Therefore, the plug in parous women often passes in one piece and without bloodshed.

Women with lesion of the cervical canal can be an exception to the general statistical cases. Scars are formed on the inside of the cervix as a result of forced expansion during abortion or as a result of inflammatory lesions of the cervical cells by Trichomonas or other infection. Sometimes bleeding during passing mucus plug in parous women is associated with cervical erosion.

In spite of the general statistics, it’s impossible to predict the way the cervical mucus plug will pass in every woman. It passes in different ways and at different times. Some women may not even notice passing the mucus plug. After all, this can happen when a woman relieves herself (in this case you may just feel as if something is dropped during urination). Often the plug passes while a woman takes shower and in this case she can feel or see nothing. Only if it passes at night or during a day when the woman wears panties, pieces of mucus can be seen on them.

5. What should you do after the plug has come out?

If you’re sure that the plug has passed, do not panic, since the time left before labor can vary from several hours to several weeks. So if you know that the time for delivery hasn’t come yet and there are no signs of abnormality in the discharge (it has normal white or yellowish color with or without blood streaks), you don’t observe bursting of waters and don’t feel contractions, then don’t worry and just relax. However, later it’s better to see a doctor and find out if everything is fine and how soon you can expect labor. Depending on the overall condition, the doctor will give specific recommendations or will send you to the hospital.

Anyway, don’t forget that discharge of the mucous plug is an early sign of labour. So, it’s better to stay close to the hospital and your home where you can use your time profitably reviewing the things prepared for the hospital and making sure everything is ready at home.

However, you should pay attention to mild “pushes”, some tension and drawing pain in the abdomen or other feelings which can be similar to those that usually accompany menstruation. This aching pain may slip into contractions meaning the beginning of delivery and labour. Even in this case there is no need to rush to the hospital. Make sure in the intensity and frequency of the contractions. When the interval between them shortens to 10 minutes, then it’s really time to go. And as long as the intervals between contractions are longer and the contractions aren’t intense as well as they don’t cause much discomfort, it’s better to use time for getting prepared. For example, you can check all the necessary documents or take a warm shower.

But if after the mucus plug discharge the waters breaks, you have to go to the hospital immediately. In case of bleeding along with the discharge, also don’t hesitate and call the ambulance.


6. Is there any risk associated with losing a mucus plug?

Losing your mucus plug during pregnancy doesn’t mean that the protection of the fetus from vaginal infection is broken. There is the second and more important protective barrier which is a thick bag of waters. Therefore, in case you have lost the plug and the labor hasn’t started yet, you shouldn’t worry but you should take some precautions. Avoid swimming in the bath, pool or sea and pay more attention to the personal hygiene (take shower and change underwear and bed linen more frequently). As for your intimate life, after losing the plug you have to abandon it since infection can get from the vagina into the uterus.

Note that rupture of the membrane (which also can come painlessly) bears great risk of infection for the fetus and the risk increases as time passes. In this case every minute counts, so if you’re not able to determine the type of vaginal discharge (whether this is the plug or the membrane), pinpoint the time of the discharge and call the ambulance immediately. At the hospital doctors would specify whether it was the plug or amniotic fluid.

7. Does loss of mucus plug in pregnancy mean going into labor immediately?

Doctors believe that the plug should come out not earlier than 2 weeks before the due date of delivery. Most often the discharge takes place 3-5 days before labor. But in fact, nobody can tell you when you lose the plug – just before labor, along with the amniotic fluid or hours, days and even weeks earlier.

So, although the discharge of the plug is one of the three early signs that labour is approaching (along with contractions and rupture of membranes), it doesn’t mean you’re going to deliver immediately. If there are no other signs of labor, you shouldn’t hurry to the hospital. But in any case, you should inform your doctor about it and then have medical examination.


8. Does the plug always pass before labor?

No, sometimes it doesn’t come out before labor. But anyway it will pass with bursting of waters or the doctor will remove it during the process of delivery. Besides, some women think that they haven’t lost the plug when they really have! You can simply miss the moment or take the discharge of the plug for other mucoid discharge.

9. Can mucus plugs in pregnancy indicate any pathology?

Some women take bursting of waters for losing the plug. Normally amniotic fluid is absolutely mucus plugtransparent, colorless and much thinner than the plug. Rupture of membranes is much more dangerous for the fetus because of the threat of infection. To avoid possible complications during the pregnancy, you should inform the doctor about your condition.

If you lose the plug earlier than 2 weeks before the due date determined by a physician during ultrasound examination (for example, when losing your mucus plug at 33 week), it’s also the issue for concern. This can mean premature delivery or placental abruption so in any case you should go to the hospital.

Another reason to visit your doctor is the discharge accompanied by bleeding. If you see a large quantity of bright blood in the discharge, there is a risk for the health of the unborn baby and the future mother because of damage of the placenta.

It is worth paying attention to the fact that the plug shouldn’t have foul odor. Offensive odor is usually characteristic of infection. Also make notice of the discharge color. Greenish mucus plug may indicate fetal hypoxia, so you need to inform your doctor about the suspicious discharge as quickly as possible.

By the way, during the pregnancy you should tell your doctor about all vaginal discharges. This helps to monitor the progress of the pregnancy as well as to clarify the expected date of delivery.

10. Is losing mucus plug in pregnancy painful?

Sometimes women experience aching, nagging pain in the lower abdomen that resembles the pain during menstruation. However, this is not a general rule and losing mucus plug may be really painless and even imperceptible for a pregnant woman.

46 comments

  1. There is certainly a great deal to learn about this issue.
    I love all the points you made.

    • I agree….. I didnt even know about the mucous plug untill mine came out. A week ago and i am still not seeing any signs for labour..

      • I disagree with sex part had sex with all my kids till labor started and doc said I can continue with everyday activities even after losing mucus plug

  2. I lost big pieces of mine at a time. One long thick strand covered a whole toilet paper wad at 36 weeks. I thought this was it. Then more came as much to cover a finger at week 38. Now at week 39 the biggest yet came out in the shape of a ring covering the inside palm of my hand. All were clear, thick, mucousy, globs.

  3. This was very helpful for me. So much I was unaware of as well as never experienced with my other pregnancy.

  4. Can blood pass by the plug from the placenta and not dislodge it?

  5. im 32 weeks and i just lost mine dismorning… im kinda scared because its kind of early for me to lose it

    • Hello dear I’m also 32, just wanted to ask you, when did you deliver the baby, bcoz I lost mine today and there’s no signs of labour?

  6. I’ve been losing some of mine & I’m only 29 weeks. Should I be nervous?

  7. Anushka Agrawal

    Hi, I am in my 27th week of pregnancy, and from last few days thick mucus is coming from my vagina, specially more in the morning when I get up from my bed, it’s slightly transparent, Whitish or yellowish in colour. And sometimes I feel that my urine is leaking through my legs but in a very small quantity, I asked my doctor, she told it’s Normal only it should not be reddish in colour, I am getting scared, Kindly suggest what to do.. Is it normal, anyone who has faced same experience??

    • I Had That At 31 Weeks. It’s Just Discharge, Had It For A Few Weeks. Then I Had Thick Pink Jelly Like Discharge That I Thought Was My Plug At 36 Weeks. This Came Out For 2-3 Days. 5 Days Later The Mucus Plug Came Out. It Was About The Size Of My Thumb, And Blood Tinged. It Felt Like Something Dropped Out Of My Vagina While On The Loo. Definately A Big Difference Between The Discharge. Lots Of Menstrual Cramping Came A Few Hours Later, But That Was Yesterday And I Still Have Not Gone Into Labour. Just More Cramps And Backache And More Tired.

  8. What if it passes while showering and I don’t even know? This makes me nervous bum starting week 39 tomorrow!

  9. Very helpful… When i mention my experience with my friends which is my mucous plug came out already they made me feel so fearful bevaise thwy keep saying that i am in labour and i should of gone to the hospital but i learnt from this if you arw not geting any contractions and your water is not broken it can even take weeks before going into labour. You just have to be careful to prevwnt infections and ofcourse go and get checked.

  10. Can you have or discharge a mucus plug if notvpregnant

    • No. Only pregnant woman have mucus plugs. Mucus plugs are formed after one month of pregnancy.

    • No. If you are experiencing mucus similar to the consistency of egg whites when you aren’t pregnant, that is normal. It means you are fertile and your body is preparing to ovulate for that cycle. Check our The Art of Natural Family Planning, and it will explain the different types of discharge when not pregnant.

  11. Thank u! Now relax and calm!

  12. im 37 weeks pregnant and lost my plug on the 8th of july 2016. How long does it take to be in labor, i get the occassional cramps,backache and sometimes it feels like contractions that dont last long?

  13. I lost my plug late last night in the shower but the contractions are irregular should I go in?

  14. I’m carrying twins and I had intercourse last night after I’d gone to the toilet and some like a really light red snotty stuff came out just a little I’m 33 weeks what do I do

  15. Hi im 28weeks and 2days and passing white mucus plug daliy but no pain and no water! But im very scared plz help me that is it normal???

  16. Esmeralda Caldera

    With my first daughter 4 years ago, I went to the potry to go pee when I stood up I felt like I peeded on my self again and when I wiped there it was.. I was 37 weeks and contractions started right away.. Four hours later my daughter was born.
    Im 37 weeks today with my second and I dont know what or when to expect her but I’m ready.. ! Not

  17. Nice Article

  18. I lost mine last night I’m 40 weeks on Friday so 2 days to go. I then started getting more period pain sensations rather than braxton hicks. Although they lasted about 2 hours with short breaks in between they eventually went away. I was hoping they would come back in the night and they would wake me up, that way I would be sure I was in labour. It’s horrible at this stage because every little twinge I’m hoping is labour, it’d my first baby so really don’t know what to expect!

    • I feel for you. I am 39 weeks and 1 day and have been losing my mucus plug since last Wednesday. The largest piece dislodged this morning but I have yet to go into labor. I had consistent contractions last night but they only lasted for 45 minutes and then they stopped. Every time they begin to become rhythmic, I get really giddy hoping the time has come. This is my first so I really don’t know what to expect.

    • I’m experiencing the same thing. I’m 36 weeks. It’s so nerve racking. The pains will be there then they’re gone again and I just wanna get labour over with or get the contractions to quit.

  19. Im not sure if ive just lost my plug im 38 weeks+2 and it was a little bit of brown jelly? Not a lot of it at all either! Ive been getting such an achey stomach and it keeps me up at night. Has anyone had this?

  20. I am currently 39 weeks today and I started losing my plug last night into this morning. During the day nothing came out but it started back up of coming out again tonight.

  21. I am between my 38th and 39th week and just saw my OBGYN yesterday. I’m 3cm dilated and “fully effaced”, so when I told him that I was pretty certain I’ve been slowly losing pieces of my mucus plug, he said he didn’t doubt it and that he’d probably be seeing me at the hospital within the next few days. However, in the last 24 hours I’ve continued to lose larger, thicker amounts of what has to be the additional pieces of mucus plug (or maybe the original pieces were actually due to the effacement process) since I now know that I’m 100% effaced, meaning that this can’t be cervical lining, right? You’d think he would’ve admitted me but he’s pretty determined not to induce this pregnancy since all of my previous pregnancies were medically induced unnecessarily early. Anyway mine has been moderately thick with gelatinous mucoid-like, stringy substance which is pale yellow and has no sign of blood, or even a reddish tinge (for which I’m grateful considering that whether I know it may be normal or not; I tend to panic at any perceivable sign of blood during pregnancy.) It started coming out in small globs about a week ago, then it suddenly stopped a day or two before my appointment BUT as soon as my last OBGYN was over, it started coming in significantly thicker and larger amounts with an increased frequency. Despite the fact that I’m 30 and having my 4th child, due to the fact that I’ve always been induced at the hospital between 34-36 weeks, I’ve never actually experienced any of these pre-labourous signs before, so it’s all new to me! This article was very helpful:)

  22. This was EXTREMELY informative. Normally when i look up pregnancy related things I go through a couple different sites. I have no need to do so now because the info here was so complete. Based on facts that my doctor and nurses have already advised me of. Thank you for being thorough. I feel good enough to go back to bed. Bye!

  23. I have a male client whose daughter insists that he passes a mucus plug when his output is low. She believes that once he passes his mucus plug his output will increase.

  24. I lost my mucus plug today around 2pm. Then hours later I went to the restroom and when I wiped I had more of the same discharge lots more. This happened 2 more times. Is it possible to keep discharging this jelly like (mucus plug) more than once?? I am getting back pain, but nothing to severe.

  25. When were mucus plugs discovered? Never heard of them in 1959 so never had to worry when my daughter was born. My water broke and off to the hospital I went. I was full term but my labor took two days (doctor told me I could go home but I was in the hospital and refused to leave until I had my baby) Labor pain hurts, but so does a toothache, when its over the pain is totally forgotten. All you’ll remember is the awesome sight of YOUR baby! God bless all of you expectant ladies.

  26. I am on my second pregnancy and I didn’t pass my mucus plug on the first pregnancy, I guess my question is is it really obvious when it comes out? I’ll be 39 weeks next week and I don’t really know what to look for as far as a mucus plug goes. Any info would be great!

  27. This is pure bullshit. Your mucus plug means NOTHING. I have 17 years of nursing experience in Labor & Delivery and we all laugh at you when you come into the hospital with the “I lost my mucus plug” bit. Your own Doctors laugh at you.
    The mucus plug has NOTHING to do with labor….if you went into labor after you saw your mucus plug come out then it was pure coincidence.
    Stop making fools of yourselves and believing everything you see on the internet.

  28. I’m 33 weeks and I just lost my mucus plug! Reading about it makes me nervous. Should I go get checked just to make sure everything is okay?

  29. I’m 36 weeks and 6 days today is Friday I lost my mucus plug on
    Monday it was brownish like old blood and from that day
    Onwards I’m still getting brownish mucus discharge when I go to the loo, don’t know what to expect! 😥

  30. I am 39 weeks 4 days and I had cramps all last night in bed, got up to get a warm bath this morning to relax the cramps and as I was squatted down in the tub to screw in the drain stopper my mucas plug came right on out and down the drain it went. I tried to stop it with my hand because I wanted to make sure that that’s what I just seen that I wasn’t being crazy lol but it all happened so fast and with no warning I wasn’t even expecting it. But I am still having the cramps and back aches so hopefully that passing speeds up the process because this momma is tired and ready to meet my baby. This last week has drug by.

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