Mucus Plug In Pregnancy – What It Is, And Its Importance

5 min read

Written by Suma rp

Suma rp

pregnant woman feeling discomfort

The first trimester and third trimesters of pregnancy are periods of being overly cautious. One for the growth of the baby and the other for reasons that can trigger delivery. One common thing to be aware of is the formation of a mucus plug and its role during pregnancy. A sticky clear or off-white substance that seals your cervix and usually protects the fetus as well as the mother from any external infections. Your body begins to lose mucus plug once you near labor. 

During pregnancy, your body prepares itself for nourishing the unborn baby and offering protection from germs. After the fertilization of the egg, your cervical canal starts secreting mucus which leaves the area moist and traps bacteria that try to enter. Here is more about mucus plug and its importance during pregnancy.

In This Article

What Is a Mucus Plug?

The mucus plug is a reddish or brownish gel-like substance, sometimes clear and sticky in nature that seals your cervix. It is a layer of protection made with sticky mucus that protects the mother and the unborn baby from infections. This plug is in between the uterus and the vagina and comes out at the time of labor.

This can come in clumps or bits at the time of labor. You can find it coming out when wiping the vagina after using the washroom. However, the mucus plug is not the same as vaginal discharge. 

What Does a Mucus Plug Look Like?

pregnant woman trying to analyze vaginal discharge or mucus plug

The mucus plug looks clear or yellowish-white. But can even have pink, red, or brown streaks. It doesn’t smell like regular discharge but is thicker with a jelly-like consistency and sticky in nature. However, not all women notice their mucus plug with blood streaks and vice versa. Also, it is not conditioned for you to lose mucus plug just before the onset of the labor. Because some women may even lose it after they get into labor, but the mucus plug eventually comes out.  

  • When the mucus plug comes out, the cervix capillaries rupture leading to some blood streaks with mucus.
  • The texture and look of the mucus plug differ from one pregnant lady to the other.
  • Few can see it on the panty, on toilet paper, while taking a shower, etc.

Importance of Mucus Plug During Pregnancy

The mucus plug helps to protect the fetus and mother against all sorts of infections. The formation of mucus plug in early pregnancy is due to secretions of cervical glands that have many antibodies which offer protection against germs as well as diseases. A little before the onset of labor, the cervix starts to soften and dilate, thus thinning the mucus plug.

When do You Lose Mucus Plug During Pregnancy?

pregnant woman having back pain

You can expect the loss of mucus plug anytime after 37 weeks. However, it’s not possible to predict the exact time and week. The loss of mucus plug indicates that your labor is near. 

Here are a few more instances where your mucus plug can come out

1. Sex 

While sex is completely safe during pregnancy, if you are having sex in the third trimester, you must be aware that this can also lead to the loss of mucus plug. Don’t hesitate to consult your doctor if you notice the mucus plug after sexual intercourse during the third trimester, before the 37th week of pregnancy. 

2. Cervix Softening 

As an indication of your body preparing for the upcoming labor, your cervix becomes soft and starts expanding for delivery resulting in the loss of the mucus plug.

3. Cervical exam

It is common for the doctor to examine the cervix during your regular prenatal checkup. This can result in stretching of the cervical opening, resulting in the loss of the mucus plug.

It is always better to consult your doctor if you feel that you are losing your mucus plug in any instance. 

Mucus Plug or Vaginal Discharge?

Pregnant women experience more vaginal discharge than regular due to the shift in the hormones. This makes it difficult for one to differentiate between a discharge and a mucus plug.

Here is how you can differentiate the mucus plug and vaginal discharge

  • The mucus plug is thick, long, and sticky mucus strands with blood streaks with discharge whereas leukorrhea or vaginal discharge is thin, white mucus with mild or no smell.
  • The blood seen in the mucus plug can be red or brown, in form of thick and slow strands or big blobs whereas vaginal discharge leaves a yellow tint on the panties.
  • Thicker mucus with blood streaks indicates that the mucus plug is out and also indicates nearing labor.

What Does The Early Loss of Mucus Plug Mean?

pregnant woman having discomfort

Early loss of mucus plug doesn’t always mean preterm labor or delivery. You may also lose a small bit of mucus plug anytime during the third trimester of your pregnancy, it usually regenerates. But, if you are concerned about preterm labor, and you are sure it’s not the usual vaginal discharge, inform your doctor and you must also watch out for a few other symptoms like 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Contractions that indicate preterm labor
  • Bleeding

These symptoms may indicate preterm labor or any other pregnancy complication. Staying alert and swift in keeping your doctor aware can actually ensure uncomplicated labor and delivery. 

However, losing the mucus plug without any other symptoms is not something to worry about, but it is imperative to inform the doctor to keep them aware if the delivery date is nearing. Usually, the loss of mucus plug happens during the late third trimester, and when you are nearing labor. Losing your mucus plug after 37 weeks can follow the onsetting labor symptoms like

  • Cervical effacement and dilation
  • Water break
  • Contractions 

When to See The Doctor?

During pregnancy, it is important to keep the doctor informed of any sudden change. Yet, there are a few situations where informing the doctor immediately is mandatory. Like, if you observe the early loss of mucus plug along with other accompanying symptoms. 

Ensure to inform your doctor and don’t hesitate to mention the consistency you observed. It is important to inform the doctor if the mucus plug comes out before 37 weeks as it may indicate some kind of complications.

Pregnancy takes you through the ride of hormones, resulting in types of discharges and even sometimes slight spotting. Not all discharges indicate the loss of mucus plug. However, if you are at risk of preterm labor and see the mucus plug coming out before your 37th week, don’t hesitate to inform your doctor. 


1. How do I Know if I Have Lost My Mucus Plug?

Your labor is nearing and if you observe a clear pink or blood-red sticky discharge, there is a fair possibility that your mucus plug has come out.

2. Does Mucus Plug Mean Labor Soon?

Losing mucus plug post 37 weeks and if coupled with cramps, mild contractions, etc, can indicate the onset of labor. However, you may lose a small piece of mucus plug anytime during your pregnancy and regenerate it. But, ensure to inform your doctor about all the new observations. 

3. How Long Until The Baby Arrives After The Mucus Plug?

Labor can start in two weeks or so with other labor signs once the mucus plug comes out.

Suma rp,M.Sc (Organic Chemistry) Rayalaseema University B.Sc (Biotechnology) Sri Krishna Devaraya University.

Suma is a passionate content writer with a strong keenness to understand the miracle of pregnancy, birth, and parenting. Suma has successfully transitioned into a full-time content writer and a key contributor at Being The Parent. She leverages on her experimental background in chemistry and experience in writing to come up with well-researched content that helps parents struggling to deal with various medical conditions of their children.Read more.

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