What is mucus plug in pregnancy?

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Mucus plug refers to the thick mucus secretion in the woman’s cervix during pregnancy. As the woman becomes pregnant, there will be an increased mucus production in the cervix to serve as some kind of protective layer against possible invasion of bacteria to the uterus.  In medical terms, this mucosal plug or lining is referred to as the operculum and it typically appears either clear or cloudy in terms of color. With the mucosal plug present, the developing baby in the uterus will be protected from possible harm coming from bacterial infections.

Towards the end of pregnancy, the mucosal lining or plug in the cervix will become thinner to prepare it for the baby delivery.  As the pregnant woman starts to experience labor pains, the whole mucus plug may dislodge or get detached from the cervix.  Some women are able to notice this part of their pregnancy because the dislodged mucus plug may appear bloody.  There are also women who miss it because of the expected secretions during this time of pregnancy.  Usually the mucus plug may have spots of red or brown blood on it and it is perfectly normal for it to come off from the cervix at the latter stages of pregnancy. The presence of blood is due to the breaking off some blood vessels that have attached to the mucosal lining.

Once the mucus plug comes off, labor is expected in next few hours or days.  Pregnant women are not advised to panic though when the mucus plug comes off already.  Instead they are usually advised to monitor for the start of contractions. At this time of the pregnancy, the woman’s body is simply signalling for the cervix to dilate to prepare for delivery.  With the baby expected to come out, the cervix will dilate bigger and therefore result to the dislodging of the mucosal layer or plug.

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