What Does a Mucus Plug Look Like?

Losing your mucus plug can be a sign that labour may be on its way! 

It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with what a mucus plug looks like and its role in pregnancy! So that when the time comes, you know what you're looking for. 

What Is a Mucus Plug?

The mucus plug is a thick piece of mucus that blocks the opening of your cervix during your pregnancy. It begins to form around week seven of pregnancy. 

The mucus plug acts as a barrier between your vagina and your uterus. It forms a seal at the opening of your cervix to prevent bacteria and infection from entering your uterus and reaching your baby. 

Why Do You Lose Your Mucus Plug in Pregnancy?

As your body prepares for labour, you will lose your mucus plug. As your cervix begins to efface (thin and soften) and dilate (open), the mucus plug begins to dislodge from your cervix. 

Once dislodged, your mucus plug will move down into your vagina - this is considered losing your mucus plug. 

Sponsored By: Amazon Baby Wishlist
Free Gift of your choice worth up to £29.99 from Amazon

What Else Can Cause the Mucus Plug To Come Away?

Alongside your mucus plug coming away due to your cervix dilating and effacing, Your mucus plug can also be dislodged during a cervical examination. During an exam, your cervix may be stretched or irritated, causing the mucus plug to dislodge. 

In the last few weeks of your pregnancy, sexual intercourse can also loosen or dislodge your mucus plug. This is okay if you're 37 weeks pregnant or more!  

When Do You Lose Your Mucus Plug?

Most pregnant people do not lose their mucus plug until the 37th week or later of their pregnancy. Sometimes, people will lose their mucus plug a few days or weeks before their due date; others may not lose it until they are in labour.

If your mucus plug comes away but you do not go into labour, your body will create a new mucus plug.

Important - If you lose or think you may have lost your mucus plug before the 37th week of pregnancy, contact your midwife or another health professional for advice ASAP.

What Does a Mucus Plug Look Like?

  • It is stringy, thick and sticky strands of mucus 
  • It can be transparent or may appear off-white, pink/brown or slightly blood-tinged 
  • Somewhat odourless 
  • If whole, it will be a clump between one to two inches in length 

You may notice your mucus plug in your underwear or on toilet paper, but if your mucus plug gradually comes away, it may be hard to recognise. 

Sponsored By: Catalink
Win £1,000 of M&S Vouchers!

What Is the Difference Between the Mucus Plug and Vaginal Discharge?

Although the mucus plug and discharge can appear to have a similar appearance, there are some differences to look out for:

  • The mucus plug is a very thick, sticky, jelly-like substance, whereas vaginal discharge is usually thinner and more watery in consistency 
  • If you notice the discharge to be pink or brown in colour, it may be your mucus plug. Healthy vaginal discharge is usually clear, a light yellow or milky white-looking colour. 
  • If you notice a big lump of mucus, it’s likely your mucus plug. Vaginal discharge is usually ongoing. (Reminder - your mucus plug can be passed gradually) 

Sometimes, you may notice a small amount of bright red blood mixed in with your mucus and discharge. This is common, especially after sexual intercourse or vaginal examinations. 

If you notice more than a teaspoon or two of blood, you should contact your midwife or health professional straight away. 
[Read more about vaginal discharge during pregnancy here]

How Long After Losing My Mucus Plug Will I Go into Labour?

Losing your mucus plug can be a sign that labour is on its way. However, it is impossible to predict just how far off labour is - it could start very soon after, or it may still be a few days or weeks away. 

At some point after losing your mucus plug, you may begin to notice some cramping, back or stomach ache,  contractions/tightenings and/or other early signs of labour. 

Alongside these signs, you may notice some stringy, thick, bloody discharge called a bloody show. A bloody show may be pink, brownish or bright red in colour. This bloody show is a combination of blood from vessels that rupture as your cervix begins to dilate.

What Should I Do Once I’ve Lost My Mucus Plug?

As mentioned above, If you’re less than 37 weeks pregnant and think you may have lost your mucus plug, contact your midwife or a health professional. If they are concerned, they may want to perform a cervical exam to check for dilation and effacement and to check your baby. 

If you’re 37 weeks pregnant or over, check for other signs of labour. If you don’t have any symptoms of labour or signs of distress, there is no need for you to do anything. 

However, It may be a good idea to inform your midwife or another health professional when you suspect you’ve lost your mucus plug. 

P.S. If you haven’t already, now would be a good time to make sure you have your hospital bags packed!
[Download your FREE printable hospital bag checklist now]

If you enjoyed reading this content why not share it with others!
Articles shown are a mixture of informative pieces, anecdotal accounts and professional advice from our panel of Bloggers, Writers and Experts. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official view of this site.