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Losing the mucous plug: when attention is required

Normally, there are no specific signs of losing your mucus plug, like pain or feeling that something is torn away in your uterine cervix. Sometimes you may experience drawing feeling in the abdomen, but many women don’t notice any symptoms of mucus plug and even miss the moment they lost it. However, in some cases the discharge of the plug is accompanied by symptoms indicating dangerous situation with the health of the pregnant woman or her child.


Bleeding

The plug often comes out with some blood as the uterine cervix expands preparing for delivery, which can lead to the rupture of small blood vessels. Beige, grey, yellow, brown, white or clear mucus plug with some streaks of blood are common and this shouldn’t cause any concern. But you have to grow wary when if there is a large amount of blood of bright red color. This is a very dangerous sign of bleeding that can be caused by placental abruption. The placental abruption can lead to fetal hypoxia and death. Thus, if you have suspected bleeding, call the ambulance and go to the hospital immediately.

Changes in color

As we’ve said before, the plug can vary in color a lot, as well as in the level of transparency. But if you see the green mucus plug, you should inform your doctor about this as soon as possible. The fact is that the green color of the plug, as well as the similar color of the amniotic fluid, can be an evidence of fetal hypoxia. That is oxygen deprivation, which can threaten both the baby’s health and life. Therefore, you should have thorough examination, so that your doctor can find the real reason of the suspicious discharge.

Foul odor

Does the mucus plug smell? Normally, it doesn’t smell, so foul odor is an adequate reason for an urgent trip to the hospital. The foul odor can signal about a number of pathological conditions, therefore a pregnant woman needs a meticulous examination.

Premature birth


As we know, pregnancy is considered to be full-term from 37 weeks, by that time development of a fetus is completed. That’s why losing the mucus plug at 38 weeks cannot do any harm even if you think that the time of delivery has not come yet. Moreover, it’s quite possible that you have a week or two before labour. But passing the mucus plug at 33 weeks is quite a different story since this is a troubling sign of premature delivery. Naturally if you haven’t reached full-term pregnancy yet, the loss of the plug should be reported to the doctor as soon as possible and you should go to the hospital.

Bursting of waters

Sometimes mucus plug fall out along with bursting of amniotic fluid, and in some cases pregnant women take leaking of these waters for the plug discharge. Keep in mind that rupture of the amniotic sac completely deprives the child of protection against infection and leads to hypoxia. If bursting of the waters isn’t accompanied by contractions, it’s likely that your doctor will be forced to resort to labor induction. If the contractions have already started, it means that you’re in labour and it’s a high time to go to the hospital.

What should you do when the mucous plug came out?

On the one hand, passing the plug is one of the early signs of labour along with contractions and bursting of waters. On the other hand, in contrast to the contractions and bursting of waters, which directly indicate the beginning of labour, the discharge of the plug doesn’t mean the labour will start immediately or even in several hours. In fact, nobody can tell you how soon labour will begin after losing the mucus plug in pregnancy – in an hour, in a day or in a week. According to doctors, it’s considered normal if the plug comes out 2 weeks before labour. In many cases it passes several days before delivery, but sometimes the plug comes down only along with amniotic fluid or even can be removed by the doctor during labour.


Thus, losing the mucus plug in pregnancy means that delivery is coming, but it doesn’t mean that it’s time to rush to the hospital. If the discharge isn’t followed by the contractions and bursting of waters, then you have plenty of time to get prepared for delivery.

But first, you should make sure that your discharge is a plug, not amniotic fluid. Unlike the plug that looks like a jelly-like clot, amniotic fluid has thinner consistency, it’s more watery. The color of mucus plug can vary from clear and white to beige, brown and yellow, while the waters often have yellowish color or may be just clear. If after the examination you are not sure that this is the plug, go to the hospital urgently to find out if there is any danger for the child. Leaking of the waters tells about rupture of the amniotic sac, which can lead to fetal hypoxia or infection.

If you’re sure that this is the plug, examine it carefully for signs of pathology. An uncharacteristic color or unpleasant mucus plug smell as well as large amount of bright red blood in the discharge are also signals that something goes wrong. In this case, you should call your doctor or hurry to the hospital. If the plug has a normal color and smell and there is no evidence of bleeding or rupture of the amniotic sac, there is nothing to worry about. But soon after discharge you may feel aching, nagging pain in the abdomen and then contractions. First contractions last for about 20 seconds with 15-minutes pauses between them and then they become longer with shorter pauses – the duration of contractions reaches 60 seconds with pauses of 2-3 minutes. This is the sign labour is near, so you have to go to the hospital with all the necessary things with you.


But if there are no other signs of approaching delivery, you can calm down and only inform your doctor about the discharge, so that he or she could control the situation. Since the mucus plug release weakens the fetus protection from infection to some extent, you need to practice proper hygiene, have sex only using condoms, give preference to shower instead of bath and restrict swimming in the sea, river or other natural bodies of water. However, you may not worry about your child as the amniotic sac still protects the fetus from infection. Also it would be wise to use the time after losing your mucus plug for getting prepared for delivery, to pack things for the hospital and to gather all the needed documents.

What does passing of the mucous plug mean?

To understand the process of passing of the mucus plug, you should recollect facts about the mucus plug formation and its function. The plug is a clot of mucus that fills the uterine cervix during pregnancy. Mucus in the uterus is produced under the influence of hormones. Production of estrogen and progesterone, which are called pregnancy hormones, leads to significant changes inside the uterus and vagina. Together with the intensified blood flow this promotes increased production of secretion. As a result the amount of female vaginal discharges increases, too.


The mucus plug forms from the very moment of impregnation. The amount of mucus increases, it becomes thicker and thicker and eventually forms a plug that seals the uterine cervix. The plug occupies the entire space between the cervix walls from its entrance, 4-5 cm deep. As new mucus is produced, the the excessive material passes in the form of discharge in small quantities, and fresh mucus takes its place in the cervix.

The plug serves to protect the fetus from infections that can penetrate to the uterus from the outside. Infection can easily get into the uterus through the vagina during sexual intercourse or during bathing. The plug doesn’t just physically block the way to infection, but it contains antibodies that help the immune system to fight pathogens.

Losing your mucus plug

From the moment of fertilization and up to 38 weeks of pregnancy progesterone is actively produced in the woman’s body, since exactly this hormone is responsible for child bearing. In the normal course of pregnancy during all this time the uterine cervix is ​​closed tightly by the plug until the level of the hormone is very high.


After 38 weeks of pregnancy the body stops producing progesterone, but production of another hormone, estrogen, increases. This hormone is needed to prepare the body for delivery. Under the influence of estrogen the uterine cervix becomes softer, the pelvigenital canal begins to open and the plug in the cervix becomes thinner before discharge.

So, discharge of the plug is one of the signs of labour during pregnancy meaning that the body is ready for delivery. When losing mucus plug at 39 weeks you may not worry since the gestational age is adequate for giving birth to a healthy baby. Also you should bear in mind that the plug may come out a few weeks before labor. On average, it passes a few days before labor, but it can come out 2 weeks or 2 hours before it. Besides, some women lose the plug during labour, so you shouldn’t worry if you feel contractions still having no signs of discharge. On the other hand, you shouldn’t think that losing mucus plug at 38 weeks means labour will begin immediately. If you have no other signs of labour (like contractions or bursting of waters), then you have enough time to prepare for the upcoming event.

But losing mucus plug at 34 weeks is a reason for concern, since it can mean premature birth. In this case you should inform your doctor immediately to take appropriate measures.

Regardless of gestational age contact your doctor and inform him of the vaginal discharges, as it will help the doctor to properly assess your condition.

Signs of labour you should know about

Anxiously waiting for delivery, many pregnant women are afraid of missing early signs of labour. Perhaps, you heard some folk saying, but you’re not sure you can trust it. In fact, there are some science-based signs that labour is about to start and knowing them you can prepare for the thrilling event and respond to any situation adequately.


In the last weeks of pregnancy some changes take place in the woman’s hormonal profile. With time placenta starts producing less progesterone and more estrogen. Progesterone prevails in the body during the whole period of gestation ensuring maintenance of pregnancy, while estrogen is responsible for preparation for delivery. When the concentration of estrogen in blood reaches the maximum level, the receptors in the brain understand this as a signal to finish pregnancy, so labour and delivery start.

The changes taking place in the pregnant woman’s body under the influence of hormonal changes and preparing the maternal passages to delivery are called signs of labour in pregnancy. Usually, these signs are observed at 38-39th weeks of pregnancy, but this doesn’t mean that all of them take place during this period and with the same intensity. In fact, they can vary with time and sometimes women may miss some of them. If this is not your first delivery, it’s likely that signs for labour will be observed later than in nulliparous women.

What are the early signs of labour?

One of the popularly known signs of oncoming labour is lightening. And it’s absolutely true as it’s based on anatomical changes in late pregnancy. If the baby is in a head-down position, in this period his/her head goes down further – it gets inserted into the pelvis. The upper part of the uterus also goes down and stops compressing lungs and stomach. Therefore, women can notice that it becomes a little easier to breathe along with lightening.

Another sign of labour in pregnancy is passing of the mucus plug. This can happen 2 weeks before labor, but in most cases women lose the mucus plug a day or two days before delivery. You can see some vaginal discharge on your panties or bed linen. It can be clear, white, yellowish, brown or even slightly pink with a small amount of blood. During the pregnancy the mucus plug seals the uterine cervix protecting the fetus from various infections. Before labour the cervix expands and the mucus plug comes out in parts or all at once.


What are the signs that labour is near?

Contractions are another clear signal of forthcoming labor. Contractions promote cervical dilatation for a fetus to pass. They are accompanied by drawing pains in the abdomen and repeated at intervals of 15–20 minutes. Over time they become stronger as well as more long-lasting, frequent and painful. The intervals between contractions gradually decrease until they reach 3–4 minutes.

The most obvious sign of labour is rupture of membranes and bursting of waters. The waters can leak in a small amount or burst in large quantities. Normally, they are clear, yellowish or white-pink in color and have no odor. If you notice any abnormalities, such as turbidity, green color, foul odor or traces of blood, it’s necessary to inform your doctor, as this can indicate fetal hypoxia. In any case, after bursting the waters you must immediately go to the hospital since the amniotic sac is the last barrier protecting your baby from infection.