The mucus plug is a collection of cervical mucus in your cervical canal.
When you become pregnant, your body starts to prepare to support and nourish new life. That also includes protecting that new life from bacteria and germs. Once the egg becomes fertilized, it needs to attach to the uterine wall. As the egg implants to the uterine wall, the cervical canal begins to secrete mucus.
The mucus secreted from the cervical canal has two main purposes:
To trap and bind bacteria that find their way into the cervical canal
To keep the area moist
Throughout your pregnancy, the mucus continues to collect and eventually seals the cervical canal completely. This final seal keeps bacteria on the outside from coming in and keeps it moist inside. Once the mucus has completely sealed the cervical canal, it is known as the mucus plug.
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The job of the mucus plug is to remain in the cervical canal and prevent any pathogens or bacteria from entering the uterus. Several things can cause it to be dislodged early. Sometimes losing the mucus plug can indicate that you might start going into labor, but that’s not always the case.
What does the mucus plug look like?
The mucus from the cervical canal is very thick and jelly-like, unlike the mucus from your nasal passages. You may have a clear mucus plug. Sometimes the mucus plug can be pink or even bloody.
The mucus plug is made of large glycoproteins or mucins. Mucins have much larger molecules, making the mucus very thick. The molecules are so large, in fact, that they inhibit bacteria and infections from passing through the mucus into the uterus.
Doctors may want to give you a cervical exam in order to check the mucus plug. They will want to see if it is forming correctly in early pregnancy or if it has dislodged due to cervical expansion during late pregnancy.
Mucus plug or discharge: how to tell the difference
Because of shifting hormones, pregnant women experience more vaginal discharge than normal. As a result, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the mucus plug and discharge.
Vaginal discharge is known as leukorrhea, and it’s usually a thin liquid that is slightly mucousy. It can range from clear to milky white and tends to have a mild smell or no smell at all. It may leave a yellowish tint on your underwear.
Because of shifting hormones, pregnant women experience more vaginal discharge than normal. As a result, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the mucus plug and discharge.
The mucus plug usually looks like long, thick, stringy strands of mucus. It can be present in vaginal discharge, and it sometimes has streaks of blood in it. The blood can range from red to brown. Sometimes it comes out of the cervix in a large, blob-like volume, and other times it comes out more slowly in thick strands.
Many people commonly call the release of the mucus plug “showing,” due to the streaks of blood and thicker mucus compared to normal vaginal discharge. Showing tends to indicate that the pregnancy is nearing the end and that labor will begin soon.
How do you know if you’ve lost your mucus plug?
Most pregnant women can tell that they’ve lost the mucus plug by looking at the toilet paper after they’ve wiped. They may also notice the mucus plug in the lining of their underwear.
There are a few things that can cause you to lose your mucus plug:
Cervix softening — During the end of your pregnancy, your cervix begins to soften and expand in preparation for delivery. The cervix generally needs to be dilated to 10 centimeters before it’s ready for the baby to pass through. Your cervix can be dilated to a couple of centimeters for a few weeks before delivery. This softening can cause the mucus plug to be dislodged and come out.
Sex — Sexual intercourse can jostle the mucus plug and make it dislodge. While it’s not harmful to have sex during pregnancy, it’s a good idea to be more careful at this time. Dislodging the mucus plug too early in pregnancy can present some risk, so if you lose your mucus plug after sex and you’re less than 37 weeks pregnant, talk to your doctor right away.
Cervical exam — Sometimes your doctor needs to give you a cervical exam to ensure everything is moving along smoothly. The exam may jar or stretch the cervical opening. This can cause the mucus plug to fall out. If it falls out right after an exam, talk to your doctor.
If you suspect you’ve lost your mucus plug and are less than 37 weeks into your pregnancy, you should talk to your doctor. If they’re concerned that it’s too soon for you to have lost the mucus plug, they will want to perform an examination right away to check on the status of your cervix and your baby.
If you think you may have lost your mucus plug after 37 weeks of pregnancy, then check for other signs of labor. If you don’t have any symptoms of labor or distress, then there might not be any cause for concern. It can take your cervix a few weeks to expand and dilate before you begin to feel labor pains. Losing your mucus plug is not a guarantee that labor will begin within the hour. No matter what, it’s a good idea to inform your doctor if and when you suspect you’ve lost your mucus plug.
You will likely lose your mucus plug after the 37th week of pregnancy. Sometimes this can cause you to have more vaginal discharge than normal. You may want to consider wearing a panty liner between losing your mucus plug and labor, but you certainly don’t have to pack up and head to the hospital right away. Check all of your symptoms, and talk to your doctor. If you’re not experiencing contractions or any other labor symptoms, your delivery may still be weeks away.
Losing the mucus plug after 37 weeks of pregnancy is a good sign. It means that your pregnancy is progressing as normal. Although it can’t be used to determine when you will deliver your baby, it means that your body is getting ready for it.
Some women have experienced contractions and other symptoms of labor just before or just after losing their mucus plug. Others don’t feel anything until up to three weeks later. Both of these situations are normal and healthy.
If you have any doubts or concerns about your pregnancy or mucus plug, contact your doctor. Their goal is to keep you safe and help you have a safe and healthy pregnancy.
Pregnancy Discharge: When Is It Normal?
It may be an icky subject, but it's one many moms-to-be have on their minds. What exactly is going on “down there” with the discharge? In early pregnancy, your body may produce more vaginal discharge, and before labor begins you may notice a blood-tinged mucus discharge. Sometimes, your discharge may indicate a problem, like an infection. Read on to find out about the different types of discharge you might notice during pregnancy.
What Is Normal Pregnancy Discharge?
Normal discharge during pregnancy is clear or white, and usually a bit sticky; it should not have a noticeable odor. It's OK if your discharge looks a little yellow on your underwear or panty liner during pregnancy, too. When you're pregnant, as your estrogen and progesterone hormone levels rise and blood flow to the vagina increases, you might find that you're producing more discharge than before, especially during the second trimester. This actually helps to protect your growing baby from infection, as it's your body's natural way of keeping the vagina clean and flushing out dead cells. Once your pregnancy is full term (at 39 weeks of pregnancy), seeing a mucus-like discharge is also normal. This is the mucus plug, which is described below in more detail.
Is Vaginal Discharge a Sign of Pregnancy?
Vaginal discharge is generally not a sign that you're pregnant, but in the early days of pregnancy, you might notice some light spotting called implantation bleeding. This can happen when the fertilized egg implants in the uterine lining. In early pregnancy, this discharge is usually pink, a bit lighter in color than normal menstrual blood. If you're curious to find out how much you know about the other early signs of pregnancy, take our quiz. By the way, if you've recently discovered you're pregnant, check out our Due Date Calculator to get an estimate of when your little one might be arriving.
What Is Leukorrhea?
Leukorrhea is simply the medical term for all vaginal discharge, not just the discharge that occurs during pregnancy. It's usually a clear or whitish mucus-like substance, and it starts to appear at puberty. The color, consistency, and amount of leukorrhea can vary depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle. Remember, during pregnancy you might be seeing more of it than usual, but this is normal.
What Is Considered Abnormal Discharge?
Unfortunately, you're also more prone to vaginal infections when you're pregnant. This is because pregnancy hormones change the balance of yeast and bacteria in the vagina, leaving you more vulnerable to yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis.
Any changes in the color, odor, or consistency of vaginal discharge might indicate an infection, so it's a good idea to keep an eye on it throughout your pregnancy. Bacterial vaginosis can lead to changes in the discharge, usually giving it a strong, fishy odor and a gray, white, or green color. A yeast infection can cause thick, white, or chunky-looking discharge. If you notice any of these changes, or anything else that you think is off, let your healthcare provider know as treatment may be required. If left untreated, vaginal infections can spread to the uterus and endanger your baby.
When Do I Need to Call My Doctor?
Make an appointment with your healthcare provider if your discharge changes color or consistency or starts to smell bad. It's also worth contacting your provider if you experience any itchiness or painful urination. If your discharge becomes watery or bloody, this could be your water breaking or your mucus plug being released; either of these may be a sign of preterm labor if it occurs before you're full term at 39 weeks, so you'll want to get checked out right away. Vaginal bleeding (other than occasional light spotting or bloody mucus) can be cause for concern at any point in your pregnancy, so don't hesitate to call your provider or visit the hospital.
How Can I Help Prevent a Vaginal Infection During Pregnancy?
To keep yourself clean down there, always wipe from front to back to avoid introducing any fecal bacteria into the vagina. Use a panty liner (not tampons) if you're experiencing heavy discharge during pregnancy. Also take care to wash yourself in the tub or shower using water and a gentle soap. It's also a good idea to choose underwear made from cotton or other natural, breathable fibers, and to steer clear of tight pants (sorry, yoga pants lovers!).
If your discharge starts to smell unpleasant, you may be tempted to use products like douches to help mask the odor, but this is not advised. Instead, talk to your healthcare provider, who can recommend the best course of action.
Are There Any Other Types of Vaginal Discharge to Watch For?
Here are other types of discharge you may experience before, during, and even after your pregnancy:
Ovulation discharge. The amount of leukorrhea you produce varies throughout your menstrual cycle. This amount will increase just before you ovulate (when you're most fertile) and its consistency is usually thin and slick. After you ovulate, the amount of mucus discharged decreases and becomes thicker, but less noticeable. You might be more aware of these changes if you were monitoring your fertility before becoming pregnant.
Mucus plug. Exactly as it sounds, the mucus plug is a thick accumulation of mucus that fills the cervix, blocking entry to the uterus. It develops during your pregnancy to help protect your growing baby from infection. Just before or as you go into labor, as your cervix dilates, the plug comes loose and is pushed out of the vagina. The mucus plug can look clear or slightly bloody and pinkish in color, and it will be thicker than normal pregnancy discharge.
Water breaking. A few hours before labor, the amniotic sac that contains your baby may break, and you could feel a watery discharge of amniotic fluid. It may not be as dramatic as it seems in the movies: Some women feel a small trickle, others leak a bit more, and some moms-to-be may not notice it at all.
Lochia. After you've delivered your baby and the placenta, either vaginally, or by c-section, you'll start to see a new type of discharge. Lochia is the name for the vaginal discharge consisting of mucus and blood that you'll shed in the days after you give birth. It will start out red and thick, gradually fade to a pinkish shade, and then eventually become yellow or white. If you have a c-section, you might not have quite as much lochia as moms who have vaginal deliveries. You can expect this type of discharge to continue for about four to six weeks after you give birth.
There are so many curious and wonderful things that take place during pregnancy. Download our handy pregnancy guide for even more insights on what's in store for you and your baby.
37-40 weeks of pregnancy
37th week of pregnancy for a baby
At 37 weeks of gestation, the baby is approximately 48 cm tall and weighs 2,600 g. facial features, pronounced cartilage tissue. The accumulation of subcutaneous fat at this stage of pregnancy makes the outline of the body softer and more rounded. The skin of the child is gradually smoothed out, it is no longer as pink as in the previous weeks of intrauterine development, the integument gradually brightens. The body of the baby is still abundantly covered with grease, but the amount of fluff is noticeably reduced, fluff hair remains only on the shoulders and back, in some babies they disappear almost completely.
Fat accumulation continues this week. It reaches a maximum of 15% of the total body weight of the child. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of adipose tissue for newborns, it is it that protects the child from overheating or hypothermia, since the baby's thermoregulation system after childbirth is still not sufficiently formed and continues to develop in the first months of a small person's life.
At this time, not only the volume of subcutaneous fat increases, but muscles and skeleton also develop intensively. The child constantly moves arms and legs. These unique workouts help increase muscle mass. Also, the baby makes rhythmic respiratory movements that strengthen the intercostal muscles and the diaphragm, and prepare the respiratory organs for childbirth.
Pregnant woman at 37 weeks
As the due date approaches, pregnant women begin to notice the appearance of their precursors, that is, certain signs, changes that occur under the influence of hormones. The body of a woman is preparing to give birth to a child, progesterone gives way to the dominant role of the birth hormone estrogen, the state of health of a pregnant woman changes.
From the 37th week, expectant mothers can observe the following changes:
slight weight loss;
the appearance of training or "false" contractions and the increase in their intensity;
discharge of mucus from the cervix.
The nature of the stool changes, it becomes looser, aching pains in the lower back of varying intensity may appear, the fundus of the uterus descends. A woman notes some signs on her own, others are observed by a gynecologist during a routine examination.
Harbingers do not appear in all women. Some expectant mothers notice only some of the above symptoms, while others observe signs of an impending birth not two or three weeks before their date, but just a few hours. Both the appearance of precursors at the 37th week and their absence are a variant of the norm and depend on the individual characteristics of the woman's body.
This week the woman's body is intensified preparation for the birth of a child. If the fetus is located correctly, head down, it gradually descends, goes to the lower part of the uterus, presses to the body and bends the limbs, intuitively taking the most comfortable position for passing the birth canal. The consequence of the movement of the fetus is the omission of the bottom of the uterus. The abdomen drops, the pressure on the diaphragm significantly decreases, the pregnant woman can breathe easily, the shortness of breath that haunted her in previous weeks disappears. The pressure on the stomach also decreases, heartburn disappears, a feeling of heaviness after eating and other unpleasant sensations. Moving the baby can put pressure on the bowels and bladder. A pregnant woman at this time often experiences the urge to urinate, may suffer from frequent loose stools. The reason for frequent bowel movements is not only the mechanical effect of the uterus on it, but also an increase in the content of estrogens in the body, hormones that contribute to the excretion of fluid. At the 37th week, the expectant mother can empty her intestines up to 3-4 times a day and at the same time observe a significant liquefaction of feces.
38th week of pregnancy: the development of the future baby
At the 38th week, the fetus is fully formed, so childbirth at this time is no longer dangerous for both the mother and the baby. The weight of the fetus is about 3 kg, but this indicator can vary significantly for different babies, the weight depends on the individual characteristics of the mother and child, the structural features of the body and other factors. The body length of a newborn is approximately 50 cm.
All organs and systems at 38 weeks of age are characterized by physiological and morphological maturity, they are fully ready for work. At this time, the child prepares for childbirth, makes respiratory movements and prepares the intercostal muscles for breathing. The tissues of the lungs are bathed in amniotic fluid, which helps maintain the right level of surfactant that coats the baby's lungs from the inside. All elements of the respiratory system are ready for use. With the first breath after birth, the alveoli begin to transfer oxygen from the air to the blood, gas exchange occurs, the respiratory and circulatory systems begin to work intensively.
The body of a pregnant woman continues to actively prepare for the birth of a baby, the estrogen content rapidly increases, and the progesterone level decreases significantly. A change in the hormonal background contributes to the softening of the tissues of the birth canal and cervix. Throughout pregnancy, the lumen of the cervical canal is closed by a plug of thick mucus, which protects the baby from infection, and the uterine cavity protects against the penetration of microorganisms dangerous to health. In the last weeks of pregnancy, the consistency of the mucus changes, it becomes more liquid and begins to gradually flow out. In some women, mucus leaves gradually, while in other women in labor at the same time. The discharge resembles colorless egg white in its consistency and appearance. Sometimes the mucus is colored pinkish, brown or yellow. The discharge of the cork is painless, a woman may experience a slight feeling of discomfort in the lower abdomen. More abundant vaginal discharge than during the entire pregnancy can signal the passage of the cork.
A woman should carefully monitor the color and volume of discharge, since too much colorless discharge may indicate not only the cork has come off, but also be one of the symptoms of amniotic fluid leakage. Indicator pads and amnio tests or test strips will help determine the cause of the discharge. Pads are sold in many pharmacies and can be easily used at home. If amniotic fluid leakage is confirmed, you should immediately consult a doctor.
After the mucus plug has passed, you should stop visiting the pool and swimming in open water, as the risk of infection of the child increases significantly. It is also necessary to exclude sexual contact.
39th week of pregnancy: what happens to the fetus?
At 39 weeks, the baby weighs 3100-3500 g and is 50-52 cm tall. Height and weight are very relative and can vary significantly. The baby is rapidly preparing for the most important test of his life - birth, which requires endurance and considerable effort. During this period of pregnancy, the size and weight of the child's adrenal glands, that is, the glands of the endocrine system, which are responsible for the reaction of the human body to stress factors, increase. It is the hormones adrenaline and norepinephrine produced by the adrenal glands that help the child quickly adapt to new temperature conditions, tactile, sound and light impulses.
All the senses of the baby are developed at 39 weeks. Within a few moments after birth, the baby can focus his eyes, he reacts to bright light and moving objects, many scientists claim that newborns distinguish colors, see the faces of parents and doctors. The hearing of the baby in the last weeks of fetal life is also fully developed; after birth, he reacts to loud sounds and noise. A newborn baby is able to determine the main shades of taste, recognize sour, bitter, sweet and salty.
In the womb, the baby is in an aquatic environment that minimizes contact. Immediately after birth, the baby experiences many tactile sensations, unlike intrauterine life, he feels the touch of his mother's hands and diapers, towels, dressings and other materials. Babies especially like the touch of skin to skin, so in a modern maternity hospital, newborns must be laid out on their mother's stomach even before cutting the umbilical cord. The child adapts to the new environment more easily, feels protected. Laying out a child has not only a psychological aspect, since it contributes to the colonization of microorganisms from the mother's skin to the skin and mucous membranes of the baby, and increases its immunity.
In the last weeks of pregnancy, the expectant mother strives to prepare her apartment or house as much as possible for the arrival of a new family member. Scientists call this sign of impending birth the nesting syndrome. Many women observe signs of the syndrome from the thirtieth week of pregnancy, however, nesting reaches its maximum point at the 39-40th week. Pregnant women tend to do general cleaning and repairs, re-paste the wallpaper and purchase a lot of new things that, in their opinion, are simply necessary in the house. After giving birth, many purchases are puzzling. The reason for this behavior is an increase in the level of adrenaline and norepinephrine in the body. These hormones are produced by the adrenal glands, they are necessary not only for the woman, but also for the baby to prepare for the upcoming birth.
40th week of pregnancy: how does the baby develop?
40 weeks - term pregnancy. The weight of a child who was born at such a period ranges from 2,600 g to 4,400 g, and his body length is 48-53 cm. These indicators are very arbitrary, since miniature babies weighing 2,600 g and real heroes are born at 40 weeks, whose body weight approaches 5,000 g. The length of the newborns can also vary from 45 to 55 cm.
Most women give birth exactly at 40 weeks. At this time, the baby is completely ready for birth, it meets all the parameters of a full-term baby. Before childbirth, the child closely presses the arms and legs to the body, bends the head as much as possible and presses against the exit from the uterus. This position allows you to make it possible to pass the birth canal with the narrowest part of the skull. In the course of labor, with each contraction, the child gradually moves down, he does not move in a straight line, but makes helical-translational movements, as if screwing into the mother's birth canal. During the progress of the newborn, the complete descent of his head, the cervix fully opens. This is followed by attempts, that is, contractions of the uterus, which advance the child through the birth canal. Gradually, the head of the baby is shown, and after it - his torso. Childbirth is a complex mechanism that is aimed not only at the safe passage of the birth canal by the child, protecting him from accidental injuries due to increased pressure, but also at preventing ruptures of the woman's soft tissues.
The long wait for meeting her unborn child is coming to an end, and the 40th week of pregnancy is the last for most women. Every day, the anxiety of the expectant mother increases, a long wait affects the mood and well-being. Women strive to have a baby as soon as possible so that pregnancy and painful contractions are a thing of the past. Every pregnant woman dreams of meeting a baby, wants to hug him to her chest and stroke the delicate head.
Many women, especially primiparas, are afraid that labor will begin unnoticed, but such cases are extremely rare. A woman feels the onset of childbirth, feels regular contractions, which are repeated at regular intervals and gradually increase, the time interval between them is reduced.
Labor may be preceded by prenatal rupture of amniotic fluid, which occurs in a certain percentage of women in labor. After the waters break, contractions may be quite weak or completely absent. Regardless of the intensity of contractions, the outpouring of water is one of the signs of the onset of labor and requires immediate contact with specialists, hospitalization of a woman in a maternity hospital or hospital, since when the water breaks, the integrity of the bladder is violated and the risk of penetration of microorganisms dangerous to the health of the child increases into the uterine cavity. It is important that after the water breaks, the baby is born in a maximum of 10-12 hours.
A pregnant woman should properly tune in to childbirth, concentrate on the desired result and believe in her own strength, fulfill the task assigned to her by nature. The right psychological attitude and theoretical knowledge will help a woman become a mother, successfully go through all the stages of childbirth and press the long-awaited child to her heart.
how to cure, causes, symptoms, prevention, doctor's advice, consequences
Your situation is already considered almost complete and discharge often appears at 37 weeks of pregnancy. Often, some of them do not pose a danger to the health of the mother and baby, while others may signal developmental pathologies or infections.
There are several varieties of this situation that may be dangerous or indicate completely normal physiological processes occurring in the mother's body.
Watery. The leakage of a clear liquid indicates the beginning of the discharge of amniotic fluid. Therefore, you need to see a doctor and expect a baby. This period of the perinatal period is considered full-term. At this time, children are born completely healthy, with the exception of developmental pathologies. Mucous. This indicates the exit of the cork. It has a transparent, beige, pinkish or brownish hue with bloody streaks. Since at this time the uterus is already beginning to expand, preparing for the exit of the baby, this protective barrier of the child against the penetration of infections comes out. Do not worry, such mucous discharge at 37 weeks of gestation is normal, and the baby has protection in the form of an amniotic sac. Another kind. Here you need to pay attention to their color, other symptoms, smell, and so on. If you notice their regularity, there is severe discomfort, itching - you should immediately contact a gynecologist.
In which cases is it dangerous?
Regardless of the specificity and consistency, some manifestations of this situation can be a serious cause of the disease, so action must be taken immediately. Liquid, having an unpleasant odor and even a greenish tint - a sign of a bacterium that has entered the vagina. If the problem is not immediately eliminated, it will lead to premature birth, which is dangerous when the mother's body is not ready. White discharge at the 37th week of pregnancy, having a curd consistency, accompanied by itching, discomfort in the uterine region - often indicate candidiasis, that is, thrush. Deep brown, non-mucilaginous, can be dangerous, so get to the hospital quickly. A yellowish-green, frothy nature indicates an infectious disease that must be treated immediately and under the supervision of your gynecologist. Often, if the cork has come off and water has begun to leak, profuse spotting appears. This situation signals the detachment of the placenta, its presentation.
In the last stages of the perinatal period, you must carefully monitor all the changes that occur in your body. In order to accurately determine the nature - we recommend wearing a daily pad.