Throughout pregnancy, a mucus plug blocks the opening of the cervix to prevent bacteria from entering the uterus. Before labor, this mucus plug is often expelled so that the cervix can open to allow the baby to pass through during labor and birth.
Passing a mucus plug is a sign that your cervix may be dilating and your body is starting to prepare for birth, though that is not necessarily true for all pregnancies.
Once the mucus plug has passed labor could be hours, days, or even weeks away as the cervix gradually opens over time. There is no telling for sure how long it will take.
A mucus plug may be clear, slightly pink or blood tinged in color. It may be stringy mucus or sticky discharge. Some women may not even notice the loss of their mucus plug because there is already an increase in vaginal discharge during pregnancy.
There is no need to contact your health care provider immediately if you pass the mucus plug under the following cicumstances:
- You are close to your due date, after 37 weeks of the pregnancy
- The mucus seems normal in color
- You have no other symptoms
- You don't think your water has broken
You may just want to let them know at your next visit.
You should call your doctor immediately if:
- You are less than 37 weeks pregnant
- Your discharge suddenly becomes bright red
- The amount is more than an ounce (about two tablespoons).
- There is bright red bleeding
- You have severe pain or cramps
- You think your water bag has broken
- There are less fetal movements
There are certain complications associated with these symptoms, and your doctor should be aware of them.