It is a “cork” barrier which seals the cervix, the opening to the uterus, during pregnancy. For the most part of pregnancy, it stays in one place (the cervix) until just before and/or during birth.
It comes in many different colors – opaque, clear, brown blood tinged, red blood tinged, and a mixture of all of the above.
Note – brownish, pinkish, or reddish mucus at about 1 to 2 weeks after ovulation might be due to implantation bleeding, which is uncommon but normal.
The consistency of the mucus plug varies from woman to woman. It might be stringy or like a jelly, or even a sticky discharge.
It contains a variety of antimicrobial agents, including immunoglobulins (glycoprotein molecules produced by white blood cells), and similar antimicrobial peptides to those found in nasal mucus.
When the mucus plug dislodges from the cervix, it is called a bloody show or the show.
Some women experience the loss of the mucus plug as a symptom of preterm labor (a pregnancy that occurs before 37 weeks). Labor may begin soon after the mucus plug is discharged or 1 to 2 weeks later. Actually, if you pass your mucus plug over 24 hours before labor starts, the body will create a new mucus plug to take its place.
The plug may come out as one blob-like lump, or in a few pieces – or simply as increased vaginal discharge over a few days.
Once you have lost your mucus plug, you do not need to make any special accommodations. Also, there is no need to avoid baths or sex.
Important note – it is only when your water breaks, you will need to go to the hospital. In addition, if you are less than 36 to 37 weeks, you need to inform your doctor if you lose your mucus plug since this could be a sign of an early delivery.
Not all pregnant women notice losing their mucus plug (occasionally, the mucus stays stuck up inside the top of the vagina and comes out only when your baby is being born), however, if this does occur, it just means that everything’s moving in the correct direction.
Normal vaginal discharge during pregnancy is called leukorrhea and is white, thin, and mild smelling. As the pregnancy progresses, this discharge typically becomes more noticeable, and it is heaviest at the end of the pregnancy.
It comes from the cervix, which is the neck of your uterus (womb).
Abnormal discharge may be a sign of infection. It is usually green and smells unpleasant. It can be caused by yeast infections, which are common during pregnancy.
If you develop a yeast infection during pregnancy, always talk to your healthcare provider if you think you have the condition, as there are some medicines you shouldn’t use while you are pregnant.
Note – in very rare cases, brown discharge during pregnancy could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy (a complication of pregnancy in which the embryo attaches outside the uterus), impending miscarriage, or problems with the placenta.
Mucus Plug vs Discharge – Differences
The mucus plug is formed from secretions of cervical glands. It has a thick, gelatinous consistency and has clear or cloudy creamy white color. Additionally, it can be tinged with red, pink, or even brown.
The mucus plug starts to form when you become pregnant and the glands in your cervix secrete mucus, but it doesn’t reach its full size until you are about 12 weeks pregnant.
It is tucked away in the cervix to help prevent pathogenic bacteria from traveling up into the uterus and cause infections.
As the cervix begins to open wider in preparation for delivery, the mucus plug is discharged into the vagina. Therefore, losing a mucus plug during pregnancy can be a precursor to childbirth.
However, losing your mucus plug does not mean that labor has started. Plus, you do not need to rush to the hospital when it occurs, unless you have regular contractions or your water breaks.
If your mucus plug comes out before 37 weeks, you should let your doctor know. Women who lose their mucus plug in the 36th week of pregnancy experience lots of pelvic pressure.
Normal vaginal discharge is called leucorrhoea. It is a mild or musky-smelling fluid which keeps your vagina clean. However, if you also experience symptoms, such as – bad itching or burning along with the vaginal discharge, it could be a sign of yeast infection, which you are substantially more prone during pregnancy.
To prevent a yeast infection during pregnancy, you should follow some simple instructions:
- do not use a tampon;
- in the bathroom, always wipe from front to back;
- practice safe sex;
- change out of wet clothes;
- do not douche;
- avoid hot tubs and extra hot baths;
- skip the scent of feminine products;
- wear breathable underwear.