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Loss Of The Mucous Plug During Pregnancy: When It Happens

Pregnancy is a universe of changes that the body undergoes—a constant and harmonious work that allows the development of a new life. Among the many topics related to gestation that are worth investigating further is the mucous plug during pregnancy, often mentioned, especially when the nine months are coming to an end, but about which future parents actually know little. In this article, we will find out what a mucus plug is and what it is used for.

What Is A Mucous Plug?

The mucus plug is a yellowish-white gelatinous substance that forms on the uterine cervix during pregnancy. It appears like a thick liquid, and its purpose is to protect the uterus from the rise of pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi and to preserve it; therefore, infections could be hazardous for mother and child, thus carrying out an essential antibacterial and antiviral action.

The mucous plug in pregnancy begins to develop in the early stages: the glands of the cervix are stimulated at a hormonal level and begin to secrete gelatinous substances that thicken, creating this crucial protective barrier that physically closes the cervix.

White Mucous Plug

The mucus plug is easily recognizable as it has a different consistency than normal discharge from pregnancy leucorrhoea; the color is opaque white and may have slight streaks of blood, which is entirely normal. The mucous plug is generally odorless, and it is common for its release to begin after the 36th week of gestation.

Yellow Mucous Plug

If the mucus plug is yellow and has a foul odor, the future mother should contact her gynecologist. There could, in fact, be an infection (bacterial or fungal) that requires treatment to eradicate it; otherwise, the baby could be infected during birth. The doctor will subject you to a vaginal swab and will undoubtedly give you the proper therapy so that the infection goes away and everything proceeds in the best possible way.

Brown Mucous Plug

If the loss of the mucus plug is brown, it is also advisable to contact your gynecologist in this case. The mucus plug could indeed have traces of blood and, therefore, take on a darker color, but dark brown could be an indication of a more significant blood loss, and consequently, it is best to get yourself checked calmly.

When Does A Mucous Plug Loss Begin?

As the term of pregnancy approaches, the neck of the uterus thins, and consequently, the mucus plug also changes. Starting around the 36th week, you may notice a leakage of a whitish, gelatinous substance, sometimes with some streaks of blood. This is the beginning of the loss of the plug during pregnancy. Keep in mind that it is not a rule that the loss of the mucous plug begins a few weeks before the end of gestation; some women lose it during labor, and others even shortly before the expulsive phase of childbirth.

How To Recognize Mucous Plug Loss

As we have said, when childbirth approaches, the cervix changes; it flattens out to prepare for the passage of the baby into the birth canal, and this also involves changes to the mucus plug: the consistency and composition change, and this can trigger the start of its leakage. 

Understanding that you are dealing with the loss of mucous plug during pregnancy rather than normal pregnancy leukorrhea is not difficult: if you notice a gelatinous, stringy, opaque white substance on your underwear and possibly with streaks of blood, that is the plug! Remember, however, that the loss of the mucous plug may not occur all at once or in such quantities as always to be evident; some women lose a little bit at a time, so its leakage goes almost unnoticed.

Loss Of The Mucous Plug: How Long Until Childbirth?

Loss of the plug during pregnancy is generally associated with the prodrome of childbirth, as it often occurs before or close to the start of labor. However, it is not possible to establish with certainty when the time to give birth will come based only on the loss of the mucous plug. As we have said, some women can expel it all shortly before giving birth, others a little at a time, already a few weeks before the due date.

What is worth knowing is that just the loss of the plug during pregnancy in the absence of other signs or symptoms does not mean that you need to go to the hospital. Although it is a clear sign that the long-awaited day is approaching, it does not mean that it is imminent!

The recommendation is to observe the consistency and color of the mucus plug so as to notice any warning signs of infections or excessive blood loss that require medical intervention. Suppose the failure of the mucus plug occurs very early or before the 36th week of pregnancy. In that case, it is advisable to contact the gynecologist to understand the cause and proceed with all the necessary precautions in order to guarantee the safety of the mother and baby.


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