Mucus Plug: Should I Go To The Hospital?

March 30, 2024

Pregnancy is an exciting, beautiful, and occasionally bewildering experience. There are countless terms and conditions to learn, and one of those is the mucus plug. In this article, we’ll help you understand what the mucus plug is and how it plays a role in your pregnancy journey.

How can you tell when you lose your mucus plug?

Losing the mucus plug can sometimes go unnoticed, as its expulsion doesn’t always occur in one piece, and it can be confused with regular vaginal discharge.

Typical signs include a noticeable increase in discharge, a jelly-like substance, which can be clear, pink, or slightly bloody.

While some women may lose their mucus plug weeks before labor, for others, it could be a sign that labor is imminent within a few days.

Here’s a table outlining the differences between the mucus plug and normal leucorrhea:

FeatureMucus PlugLeucorrhea
AppearanceThick, jelly-like consistencyThin, milky or clear discharge
ColorCan be clear, pink, brown, or slightly blood-tingedMilky white or clear
TextureDense and gelatinousWatery or creamy
QuantityOften a small amount, usually noticeable in small bitsCan vary from scant to moderate amounts
OdorTypically odorlessMay have a mild odor, usually not foul
OccurrenceUsually occurs in one pieceContinuous discharge, may increase during pregnancy
TimingTypically seen closer to the end of pregnancyCan occur throughout the menstrual cycle
PurposeBlocks the cervix to protect the uterus from infectionLubricates and cleanses the vagina
Significance in pregnancyIts passage may indicate impending laborNormal physiological discharge during pregnancy

If you have concerns about any discharge during pregnancy or at any other time, it’s always best to consult your gynecologist.

mucus plug

When you lose your mucus plug should you go to the hospital?

Losing your mucus plug doesn’t necessarily mean you need to rush to the hospital.

If the discharge is clear, pink, or slightly bloody and you’re not experiencing any other signs of labor—such as regular contractions, water-breaking, or severe pain—then it’s usually safe to stay at home and monitor any changes.

However, if you’re unsure or if the discharge is heavy, bright red, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it’s always best to contact your healthcare provider or head to the hospital. Every pregnancy is unique, so always err on the side of caution when uncertain.

What color is the mucus plug in pregnancy?

The mucus plug can vary in color from clear or white to pink or even slightly bloody.

The consistency is generally thick and jelly-like, much like nasal mucus. This variance in color is due to changing hormonal levels and the presence of small amounts of blood as your cervix prepares for labor.

However, if the discharge is bright red or heavy, it could be a sign of complications such as placental abruption or preterm labor, and you should seek medical attention immediately.

How to distinguish mucus plug from leucorrhea?

Leucorrhea is the normal vaginal discharge that most women experience throughout their menstrual cycle, including during pregnancy. It’s typically thin, white, and mild-smelling.

The mucus plug, on the other hand, is generally thicker, might have a slight color and is discharged in larger quantities.

The key distinction is the volume and texture change. If you notice a sudden increase in discharge or a jelly-like substance, it’s likely your mucus plug.

When in doubt, always consult your healthcare provider to ensure you’re interpreting these signs correctly.

How long can pass after the loss of the mucus plug?

Every woman’s body is unique, and so is her pregnancy journey.

Some women may lose their mucus plug weeks before the onset of labor, while for others, labor might start within hours or days after losing the mucus plug.

However, it’s important to note that losing the mucus plug doesn’t necessarily mean labor is imminent.

It could still be days or even weeks before actual labor begins.

Always coordinate with your healthcare provider to understand what this means for your unique pregnancy.

How can you tell if you are close to delivery?

Signs that labor may be approaching include regular contractions, changes in vaginal discharge, the loss of the mucus plug, water breaking, and the baby moving into the lower position.

These are all signs that your body is preparing for labor.

However, these symptoms can occur weeks before actual labor begins.

Thus, it is crucial to be in close contact with your healthcare provider during these final weeks of pregnancy.

They can provide the most accurate information based on your unique pregnancy and health condition.

We’re on your side.

At Parentalife we’re dedicated to providing helpful guides, courses, and personalized consultancy to support you on your parenting journey. Stay connected with us for more valuable insights on pregnancy and parenting.

SOURCES

Becher N, Adams Waldorf K, Hein M, Uldbjerg N. The cervical mucus plug: structured review of the literature. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2009;88(5):502-13. doi: 10.1080/00016340902852898. PMID: 19330570.

About the Author

Severino Cirillo

Health, Wellness and Education Expert. With a degree in Community Health, he is the CEO of Informed Parent and is responsible for validating the blog's scientific information and coordinating the editorial team of experts, consisting of gynecologists, midwives, psychotherapists, and others in pregnancy, perinatal, and parenting wellness and health.