As the name infers, a mucus plug is a plug made out of mucus in a female body during pregnancy. It develops in the cervix and lodges mainly to block the cervical canal in the cervix. The job of a mucus plug is to protect the uterus from any unwanted bacterial germs and pathogens that could harm the baby, and from sexual activities or vaginal check-ups.
What is a Mucus Plug?
It is usually a thick, jelly-like liquid to keep the area moistened and protected. The fluid eventually grows and seals the cervical canal and creates a thick plug of mucus. It serves as a barrier and protects from any further infection entering the uterus.
Most of the time, Cervical Mucus is rich with antimicrobial components, but it also adds up double protection by bacteria busting properties. Lysozymes in a mucus plug usually destroy the cell walls of bacteria.
The secretions from the female’s cervix and the increase in oestrogens and progesterone are helping in the formation of the mucus plug early during the pregnancy when the ovum goes its way to the uterus. Though it remains until the end of the pregnancy, the body is always using new mucus to redevelop it, keeping it fresh.
What Does a Mucus Plug Look Like?
Usually, The Mucus Plug after developing can be translucent and white jelly-like structure with colour variations like green, slightly pink or brown (just what a Mucus looks like). It is found to be thicker and firm when in the cervix and somewhat thin and liquid like when expelled from the body. It might also contain some hints of blood with a pinkish shade.
A standard mucus plug is about 4-5 centimeters long and about 30-40 gms in volume. It usually seems less because the body doesn’t expel it all at once.
The blood stripes in it can be easily observed quite often as the cervix expands before labor starts and that can lead to the bursting of capillaries. However, there shouldn’t be any bleeding. If the passing of the plug is followed by fairly heavy blood-tinged discharge of red colour, then you should immediately call the doctor.
How to Identify If You’ve Lost Your Mucus Plug? And When?
Most women experience vaginal emanation throughout the pregnancy. Therefore, it can be pretty difficult to identify when it is out of the cervix. However, a mucus appears thick and jelly-like, unlike regular vaginal discharge. It may also be pretty clear, pink, or slightly bloody.
There are numerous reasons why you may lose your mucus plug during pregnancy. Mostly, it gets discharged because the cervix is softening that means the cervix is starting to become weaker and wider in preparation for the delivery of the baby. So, the mucus isn’t supported in place as easily and gets discharged.
As previously mentioned, there are chances that some women may also lose their mucus plug after a cervical exam during the pregnancy, which can easily cause the mucus to dislodge, or during any sexual activity, which can make the mucus to lose and break out.
Losing your mucus plug doesn’t necessarily means that delivery is expected. However, it usually indicates that your body and cervix are going through notable changes so that you’re better prepared for the childbirth. Eventually, the cervix will soften and dilate. Therefore, the baby can move through the cervical canal during delivery.
What to Do when the Mucus Falls Out?
Usually, before 2-3 weeks before the delivery date, the cervix starts to soften, light, and dilate, the mucus may fall out. It fills the cervix and protects the uterus. Losing the mucus plug means the cervix is getting ready for the labor, but it is not a significant sign that labor has begun or is expected. Cervix can also start to dilate several weeks before delivery as well.
If you’re noticing any globs of mucus in the underwear or when you’re using the toilet, that possibly means that the mucus plug is loosening or expelling out. You don’t have to be alarmed if you see any blood gazing out because it may be because of the breaking which can cause bleeding.
There are chances that you might lose the mucus plug, and you wouldn’t even know. That’s because the body slowly prepares the cervix and canal for delivering over weeks and days, so gradual loosening of the mucus happens too.
What to Do Next? Is it painful?
Losing the mucus plug does not mean that labor has started inevitably. Also, you do not need to rush to the hospital when this happens unless and until the water breaks or you’re having regular contractions.
A little aching or a nagging might be occurring during the wearing out of the mucus plug and resembles the same during the menstrual cycle.