What is Mucus Plug?
Mucus plug is what you may have heard of more about during the third trimester of pregnancy. Mucus has an important role in a female’s reproductive cycle as well as during pregnancy. The mucus changes to seal the cervix which is commonly known as the mucus plug formation.
During ovulation, mucus indicates the fertile window as stretchy and clear mucus is ideal for the sperm to pass through the vagina to the egg for fertilization.
Whereas during pregnancy, a mucus plug forms to seal the cervix so as to avoid infections passing onto the baby. Nature has its way of protecting the fetus from harm and without a mucus plug, pregnancy cannot reach full term successfully.
How is the Mucus Plug Formed?
Pregnancy is a fascinating journey as every stage brings a lot of changes and formations in the body. Same goes for the mucus plug as it gets formed by secretions from the glands in cervical canal. The gelatinious consistency of the mucus makes it capable to hold on throughout the pregnancy.
When Does the Mucus Plug Start Forming?
The mucus plug starts formation as soon as the egg is fertilized and attached to the uterus. The mucosal cells are stimulated to pump mucus into the cavity to form a plug.
The cervix gets soft during this process as the mucus is pumped into the cavity until there are no gaps through the passage.
Thus happens with the help of the pregnancy hormone known as progesterone which has an influence on the mucus to thicken and secrete continually.
The mucus also has antibodies to protect against bacteria, virus, and other diseases which assures your baby is being well protected.
How Big is your Mucus Plug?
Well, how big is your mucus plug actually if it has to be there in place throughout the pregnancy? The mucus plug contains about 2 tablespoons of mucus to form the size of a quarter.
The color of the mucus is usually yellowish white although it can be creamy, beige, or even brown in color. The color is usually not a cause for concern if the pregnancy is healthy with no complications otherwise.
The mucus plug starts forming when the egg is fertilized but it will reach it’s full size when you are about 12 weeks pregnant. The secretions will take their time to fill up the cavity and form the thick gelatinius or jelly like plug to seal the cervix completely.
Role of Mucus Plug in Labor
The mucus plug has an important part before or during labor. The pregnancy progresses as different hormones are produced at various stages whereas labor alters the balance of women’s hormones.
Labor increases the estrogen hormone levels to make the mucus thin. This happens as the fetus nears completion and the cervix then begins to dilate. As this happens, the mucus plug can come out all at once or you may even notice some discharge at first.
The release of mucus plug can also rupture capillaries to cause pink streaks come out with the mucus plug. This indicates that labor is near although early discharge may mean that you may go into preterm birth.
Passing of the Mucus Plug – What Does it Mean?
This may be different for every woman as some may notice clear indication while others may not even know when it passed either while urinating or showering.
Women usually experience no pain while the mucus plug is passed. However, some women report having a nagging pain in the lower abdomen before having passed the mucus plug.
The passing of the mucus plug does not mean that labor will proceed soon necessarily as it may take some hours to weeks too.
It is better to consult your doctor when you notice that your mucus plug has passed as you will be examined and assured about the expected delivery time left.
Will my Baby Have Increased Chance if infection after Mucus Plug Passes?
Also, the passing of the mucus plug does not mean your baby is exposed to infections then. The baby is well protected by the amniotic fluids that your baby is surrounded with throughout the pregnancy.
There is still enough protection for the baby to survive until your waters break. Water breaking is another stage when you are near your delivery date. You should also visit and consult your doctor to have yourself checked if everything is alright.
The passing of the mucus plug does not have to be a cause of worry as you may still carry on with your daily activities. You may take a bath or even have sex after that as there is no need to avoid them.
There are no infection risks to your baby until your water bag is still intact. However, the water breaking stage is when you should definitely rush to the hospital to see if everything is going well.
The only cause of concern with the passing of your mucus plug is when it has excess bleeding accompanied with it. You should call your doctor and discuss the symptoms and possibilities and also have a check up at the hospital if there is something to be reassured.
What Happens After You Lose the Mucus Plug?
Usually, contractions will begin sometime after your mucus plug has passed but again it is nothing to worry about if this takes some time. Have a visit to the doctor and know the reasons and expected time.
The plug release is an indication that the cervix is opening wider which caused the mucus to loosen up and leave the cavity.
When Does the Mucus Plug Pass Normally?
Normally, your mucus plug will pass after you are 37 weeks pregnant. Although you may also lose it earlier but that will indicate that you are going into preterm labor. 37 weeks is termed as full term pregnancy after which it is expected going into labor anytime.
However, doctors may still want to wait until 38 to 40 weeks for natural labor signs to begin with.
Does the Mucus Plug Regrow?
Yes, this can happen when labor does not start within a week of passing the plug. This can cause secretions start again and form a plug again to fill up the cavity. Water breaking is more of a sign that you will go into labor soon although it may still take 10 to 12 hours for the contractions to start.
The amniotic fluid can be passed like a gush of water or be slowly discharged but it will unlikely stop until it is leaked fully.
Whatever is the case, you should still be ready to expect the signs of labor when you are at least 32 weeks as some babies really want to come sooner. You may go into preterm labor unexpectedly or may have the full term waiting period before you meet your baby.
Be ready for the contractions as they will seem like cramping and tightening of the uterus while your stomach will feel hard to touch.