I’ll tell you this…if I lost my mucus plug before each labor with my daughters, I have no idea. With my eldest, my water burst out like a water balloon being popped. And with my youngest, I felt contractions and took my time getting to the hospital.
While I can’t give you my experience with mucus plugs, I can tell you plenty more about them. I know you all have questions about the mucus plug, so let’s dive right in.
Mucus Plug, Defined
You’re in the right place if you’re wondering what the heck a mucus plug is. It’s a thick chunk of mucus that sits in the opening of your cervix while you’re pregnant, creating a seal that keeps bacteria and other germs out of there.
The mucus plug comes loose as your cervix dilates when your body is getting ready for labor.
- The length of time from when you lose the mucus plug and when labor starts can vary, so you may not go into labor immediately.
- Signs of a lost mucus plug may be on your underwear.
- Learn how to speed up labor after you lose your mucus plug!
How long after losing my mucus plug will labor start?
Unfortunately, I can’t possibly predict that, nor can anyone else. Once you lose your mucus plug, you may go into labor in a few hours. Or it could be a few days. Or even weeks. You will want to talk to your doctor to find out what to do next if you’ve lost your mucus plug (more on that below).
Can I go into labor before losing my mucus plug?
Absolutely! You may go into labor even if you do not lose your mucus plug. Some mamas lose that plug after all the other labor symptoms begin, while others lose it first, then have the other symptoms.
What are the signs that I have lost my mucus plug?
You may not even notice at all! But a good rule of thumb is to keep an eye out on your underwear as well as on toilet paper when you wipe after going pee. You may see mucus in those places. And if you don’t notice that you’ve lost it, that’s ok too. For some of you, it may come out slowly over time rather than pop out in one chunk.
What are the causes of a mucus plug falling out?
It could be a variety of things that cause the mucus plug to break its seal and fall out. For one, your cervix may soften and thin, then dilate. It does this as your body prepares for delivery.
If you have sex during pregnancy, which is safe, by the way, in the last few weeks, it could loosen the plug. When you’re more than 37 weeks along, this is fine. However, if it is earlier than that, call your doctor.
Sometimes, those cervical exams they give you in those weekly checkups leading to your delivery can loosen things up. When that happens, the mucus plug could fall out.
Is the mucus plug the same as a bloody show?
No, but they are similar. Both the loss of the mucus plug and the appearance of a bloody show will happen late in your pregnancy. Your mucus plug, though, is like a stringy jelly discharge. A bloody show is a bloody discharge.
If you are at all concerned, always contact your doctor to find out what to do next.
Should I call my doctor when my mucus plug falls out?
Again, any time you are unsure about anything going on with your pregnancy, you can contact your doctor. If you don’t know if it was the mucus plug or not, you will likely need to describe it.
Your mucus plug will generally be clear or off-white, though it could have a slight bloody tinge to it. The key is in the texture, which will be stringy and sticky, like a jelly-type substance. Mucus plugs are about an inch or 2 in length and don’t have much odor.
It’s normal to lose the mucus plug, but if it comes out before you hit 37 weeks, you must call your doctor. Also, call your doctor if the mucus plug comes out at any time, even after 37 weeks, and you have heavy bleeding with contractions or pain.
And yes, if you’ve got that sudden gush of liquid pouring out of your vagina, that’s another reason to call the doctor immediately too.
How could you speed up labor after the loss of the mucus plug?
Ok, so let’s say you’re full term in your pregnancy, and you see your mucus plug has fallen out. You can try a few things if you want to speed things up into full-blown labor.
I have written endlessly on the topic of curb walking. Definitely check out my articles about that and how to do it.
Stimulate your nipples
Nipple stimulation may also work. You can simply touch them or use a breast pump to get that oxytocin releasing and hopefully encourage your labor process to begin.
You may want to squeeze in a little nookie with your husband, seeing as you’ll have to wait a bit before you have sex again after the baby. In any event, it can also help your body release that oxytocin.
This last one is not scientifically proven, but it does taste good. And it will give your body plenty of nutrients, which can only help when you go into labor.
In short, losing your mucus plug is normal, whether it comes out as a whole or a little at a time. The only time it isn’t a welcome sight is before you are over 37 weeks along.
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.