Mucus plug is a thick plug of cervical mucus which blocks the cervical opening during pregnancy to prevent bacteria from entering the uterus and to provide an additional protection to the baby. About a couple of weeks before delivery, this plug is expelled to allow the cervix to open and the baby to pass.
It is most often described as clear or cloudy, thick and sticky discharge. However, when the cervix begins to dilate, a small amount of blood can pass into the plug of cervical mucus. As a result, it can be tinged with red, brown or pink blood which is why it is also known as bloody show. On the other hand, some women do not even notice passing the plug and mistake it with increased vaginal discharge which is normal during the last stage of pregnancy. It can be also expelled in one solid mass and look like an actual plug.
Mucus plug tends to vary greatly from one woman to another as well as from pregnancy to pregnancy. It may be hard to recognize for the first-time moms who are not exactly sure what to look for. If you cannot tell if you have increased vaginal discharge or if you have passed the plug, save it on a pad and show it to your health care provider or midwife. There is no need to feel embarrassed because they are used to all sorts of things and they will not think that you are silly. There are no silly questions when it comes to pregnancy, especially if your due date is near.
Passing mucus plug without a doubt signals that the labor is not far off because it is a sign that the cervix is ripening. However, it does not necessarily mean that you will give birth any moment now. You may but you may not go into labor for one or even two weeks. So you better prepare yourself to go to the hospital and wait for other signs of approaching labor. It is hard to tell when the labor is about to start but you do not need to rush into the hospital unless having regular contractions that are getting stronger and closer together no matter what you are doing, or if your water just broke. There is also no reason to be concerned if you still have not lost the plug even if you are near your due date because many women do not notice it before going into labor.
Although the plug of cervical mucus that is tinged with blood is completely normal and is not a cause of concern, it is highly important to keep an eye on the mucus discharge. If it appears normal and if you are not experiencing any other signs of labor or unusual symptoms, you do not need to call your doctor right away. However, seek medical attention immediately if it suddenly turns bright red. Also, be sure to contact your doctor if having a bloody show before the 37th week of pregnancy because you may need to go into labor earlier.