The mucus plug serves as a protective barrier for your developing baby against bacteria. As labour approaches, most women experience the loss of their mucus plug. However, losing it prematurely can heighten the risk of infection. It is advisable to contact your doctor if you lose your mucus plug before 37 weeks or if you experience heavy bleeding.
As the end of your pregnancy draws near, the anticipation of meeting your new baby grows. The loss of your mucus plug often signifies the onset of labor. If you’re in good health and at full term, you can safely follow these tips to help speed up the labor process after you’ve lost your mucus plug.
Everything You Need to Know
The mucus plug is an essential component of the body’s protective mechanisms during pregnancy, working alongside various other measures to ensure the well-being of both you and your baby. Despite its somewhat off-putting name, the mucus plug plays a vital role in every healthy pregnancy.
The Mucus Plug
According to the Mayo Clinic, the cervical mucus plug is a dense accumulation of mucus that acts as a barrier between the vagina and the cervix. It begins to form in the early weeks of pregnancy and typically remains in place until around 37 weeks of gestation.
The mucus plug serves as a shield, safeguarding your baby from external factors. By creating a physical barrier, it effectively prevents the entry of bacteria from the vagina into the cervix.
Mucus Plug vs. Normal Vaginal Discharge
Distinguishing the mucus plug from regular vaginal discharge can be challenging. Throughout your pregnancy, you may experience the gradual loss of portions of the mucus plug, giving the impression of continuous discharge. In response, your body will produce additional mucus to reinforce the protective seal between your baby and the external environment.
While similarities exist, several characteristics can help you identify the differences between the mucus plug and typical vaginal discharge. Normal vaginal discharge tends to be thin, white, or light yellow in colour. In contrast, the mucus plug is typically clear, jelly-like, and may contain slight traces of blood. This is why it is sometimes referred to as the “bloody show.”
How to tell if you’ve lost your mucus plug?
As the time for labour approaches, you’ll likely be vigilant for any indications that your body is gearing up to give birth. As your cervix starts to soften and the baby descends lower, the cervix undergoes preparations for delivery. This process leads to cervical dilation, creating additional space for the expulsion of your mucus plug.
Indicators of Mucus Plug Loss
For some women, the loss of their mucus plug becomes evident right away. You might feel the presence of the sticky mucus plug being expelled or notice it on your underwear or toilet paper. In other cases, the mucus plug may disintegrate into smaller pieces over time.
It’s important to note that losing your mucus plug is less noticeable than your water breaking, and you should not experience any pelvic pressure or pain when it happens.
When to Be Alert for Mucus Plug Loss
Several weeks prior to your estimated due date, you can begin to be vigilant for the loss of your mucus plug. Often, pregnant women observe the discharge of their mucus plug following certain events that disrupt the area. It’s a good idea to monitor your underwear or check toilet paper after sexual intercourse or cervical examinations, as these situations may increase the likelihood of mucus plug discharge.
How To Speed Up Labor After losing mucus plug?
After losing your mucus plug, if you are healthy and at full term, there are some tips you can follow to potentially help accelerate the labour process. It’s important to note that these methods may not guarantee immediate results, as labour is a natural process that varies for each individual. It is always recommended to consult with your healthcare provider before attempting any techniques. Here are some suggestions:
Stay Active: Engage in regular physical activity such as walking, squatting, or gentle exercises. Movement can help stimulate contractions and encourage the progression of labour.
Nipple Stimulation: Gently massaging or stimulating your nipples can release the hormone oxytocin, which plays a role in initiating contractions. This can be done manually or with the help of a breast pump.
Relaxation Techniques: Practise relaxation methods like deep breathing, meditation, or taking warm baths to help reduce stress and promote a more favourable environment for labour to progress.
Acupressure: Consult with a trained acupressure practitioner who can apply pressure to specific points on your body that are believed to stimulate contractions and support labour progression.
Sexual Intimacy: If your healthcare provider approves, sexual activity or orgasm can release oxytocin and prostaglandins, which are hormones that may help trigger contractions.
When to See Doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you experience any of the following after losing your mucus plug:
- Losing your mucus plug before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
- Heavy bleeding or if the bleeding is more than just slight traces of blood in the mucus plug.
- Any signs of infection, such as fever, chills, foul-smelling discharge, or abdominal pain.
- Sudden and severe pelvic pain or contractions that are less than 10 minutes apart before reaching full term (37 weeks or later).
Q1: What is the purpose of the mucus plug during pregnancy?
A: The mucus plug acts as a protective barrier for the baby, preventing bacteria from entering the cervix.
Q2: When should I contact my doctor after losing the mucus plug?
A: Contact your doctor if you lose the mucus plug before 37 weeks or experience heavy bleeding.
Q3: How can I differentiate between a mucus plug and normal vaginal discharge?
A: Mucus plugs are usually clear, jelly-like, and may have slight traces of blood, while discharge is thin and white or light yellow.
Q4: What can I do to potentially speed up labour after losing the mucus plug?
A: Staying active, nipple stimulation, relaxation techniques, acupressure, and sexual intimacy may help accelerate labour, but consult your doctor first.