Understanding the Loss of Mucus Plug

Understanding the loss of mucus plug is dependent on first understanding its role during pregnancy.

What is the mucus plug?

The mucus plug is a thick layer of mucus that lodges in the cervical opening to act as the last line of defense against infection entering the uterus via the birth canal. It protects the uterus and growing baby from bacterial infection. It ranges from clear and slick, like excessive discharge, to brownish or greenish in color. In some women, it may be streaked with a small amount of blood.

Loss of mucus plug as an early sign of labor

Like many other pre-labor signs, losing the mucus plug indicates that labor is coming nearer, as its loss indicates that cervical changes are occurring, but does not correlate with a timeframe in which labor will begin. It could still be hours, days, or even weeks away. Furthermore, it can also regenerate, replenishing itself to continue protecting the pregnancy from infection.

What causes it to dislodge?

It is usually caused by the start of cervical changes like dilation and effacement. As the cervix starts to change as labor nears, it becomes dislodged and slowly starts to discharge. It can be a slow, drawn-out process or can happen all at once. If the former occurs, some women may not even notice but instead mistake it for heavier-than-normal discharge.

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Page Last Modified by Catherine Beier, MS, CBE

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