Mucus Plug (Show) – What Is The Mucus Plug?
During pregnancy, your cervix secretes mucus which forms a thick mucus plug. This plug forms on the cervix and it’s purpose is to prevent any bacteria getting into the uterus – like an added layer of protection for your baby.
The mucus plug (medical term is operculum, i.e. plug in opening) is usually is cloudy or clear in colour, thick and sticky – some women describe it looking like a glob of semen or ‘snot’ or a mix of both! When your cervix begins to thin and dilate at the end of your pregnancy, there may be some slight blood loss due to small capillaries breaking from the movement. The blood then gets caught up in the mucus and this is why it’s also called ‘a bloody show’ as the mucus becomes blood stained.
During the last couple of weeks of pregnancy or up until labour itself, the plug will start to come away so the baby can pass through the cervix. Some women do not even notice their plug expelling as there is already an increase in normal cervical mucous due to hormones. The mucus plug often comes away like a continuous stringy discharge – sometimes it can actually resemble a plug. Some women do not see their mucus plug until well into labour – I was 5 centimetres dilated and it wasn’t until my waters had broken before I saw it!
According to a poll in the BellyBelly Forums, at the time of writing this article, 34% of women reported that they had lost their show around 2 days prior to labour starting, with a further 30% who lost the show during labour and 17.65% who never saw their show at all! The remaining percent lost their show 1-2 weeks before labour started. So if your show makes an appearance, you can be assured things will be on their way very soon, but be careful not to get too excited and tell everyone – you just might find the super frequent phone calls and unexpected visits a little overwhelming!
Some Quick Mucus Plug Facts From BellyBelly’s Midwife, Brenda Manning
Having your show, or mucus plug:
- Doesn’t mean labour is imminent
- Is common after the caregiver has done a vaginal exam, especially if s/he has done a strip & stretch (or stretch & sweep)
- Is common post love-making
- Can be brown – it’s just old blood
- Is a positive, encouraging sign that the birth is near during advanced labour because ‘a good heavy show’ usually means that the cervix is fully dilated.
The only time we are interested in it is when it’s confused with bleeding and women phone us (quite rightly) very concerned that they’ve had a bleed but on questioning it’s just blood-stained mucous (common after love-making).
If in doubt save it, bring it in on a pad and show your caregiver – s/he won’t mind, we see/smell/feel all sorts of stuff and are completely unaffected by it – truly!!!
Midwives do tend to get excited if a woman arrives in labour with a good heavy show because it means that things are happening and they can reassure you of that without having to do a vaginal exam.
Remember that you should always report any vaginal discharge or bleeding in pregnancy to your midwife or doctor for evaluation.
Kelly Winder is a birth attendant (aka doula), the creator of BellyBelly and mum to three beautiful children. Follow Kelly on Google+ and become a fan of BellyBelly on Facebook. BellyBelly is also on Twitter. Please note that all of my suggestions and advice are of a generalised nature only and are not intended to replace advice from a qualified professional. BellyBelly.com.au – The Thinking Woman’s Website For Conception, Pregnancy, Birth and Baby.
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