The mucus plug is thin plug that forms in the upper part of your cervical canal and lies between your baby and the cervix. It is made up of thick mucus very similar to the thick nasal mucus you produce when you are at the end of a cold.
Its main purpose is to seal the cervix and block bacteria from entering the uterus. It helps prevent your baby from getting infected by bacteria that reside in your birth canal.
Several weeks prior to going into labor, your cervix will start softening. This will allow the mucus plug to slip down the cervical canal and come out through the vagina. This is known as “losing one’s mucus plug.” When this happens, it indicates that your body is slowly getting ready to go into labor, but do remember that real labor can still be many weeks away!
When the mucus plug comes out it can have many shapes and colors. It often looks like soft nasal mucus and can be clear but it can also be yellow, pinkish, or brown, and it may have streaks of red in it. If is has a pinkish, brownish or reddish color to it, it is often called “bloody show.”
It is very common to not see your mucus plug come out. Often the amount of mucus is much smaller than expected and can be mistaken for normal vaginal discharge. Some women will not lose their plug until they are in true labor.
If you are 37 weeks or more pregnant, most health care providers don’t feel they need to know when you pass your plug unless it is very abundant (more than 2 to 3 Tablespoons or 30 to 45 cc). Do find out, however, if your doctor or midwife wants to be contacted since some do. If you think you have lost your mucus plug and you are less then 37 weeks pregnant, you should always contact your health care provider since it could mean that you might be having preterm labor, which is often stopped with medicines.
Finally, if the mucus plug, irrespective of how far long you are in your pregnancy, is very bloody, do contact your provider immediately since it can indicate bleeding from your placenta, which can be serious. This could indicate the presence of a placenta previa or placenta abruption.