Cervical glands secrete the substance that forms the mucus plug. This gelatinous mass is thick and fills the cervical canal entirely. This cervical cell secretion happens continuously, therefore making a mucus plug stay fresh. This mucus boosts the immune system with the antibodies which act against pathogens such as fungus, bacteria, and more.
How Big Is the Mucus Plug?
This mucus plug isn’t that large, about 4-5 cm long, while still inside the body. When it is out of the body it will be about two tablespoons, give or take. Some women will experience even smaller sizes, as they lose theirs in parts.
What Will the Mucus Plug Look Like?
A mucus plug will generally look like jelly or slime, and is thick. The color of your mucus plug can be yellowish-white, have some pink or blood mixed in, or be pure white. There are, in fact, many color variants such as beige, brown, and tan, all falling within the normal ranges.
When Do Your Lose Your Mucus Plug?
A woman’s hormones change right before her labor starts. Once the baby is ready to be born, estrogen peaks and the mucus plug gets thinner, until it passes.
There are some women who will experience contractions before it passes. These are an aching across the abdomen and often their back as well, resembling severe menstrual cramps.
Will Labor Occur Immediately After Loss of Mucus Plug?
How big is the mucus plug? About two tablespoons. As to this question, even though losing your mucus plug is one of the three signs of labor, along with contractions and rupture of membranes, it doesn’t always mean you’ll deliver right after.
In most cases, the plug will not come out earlier than two weeks before your delivery date. Often the discharge is noticed a few days before labor begins. The truth is, you never really know when you will lose your plug. It could be when you go into labor, a few days before, or right when your water breaks.
What Should You Do After Losing the Mucus Plug?
How big is the mucus plug? You already know the answer. Once you know you have passed your plug, it’s important to not panic. Remember, this doesn’t necessarily mean you are in labor; it still may be hours or weeks away. If you aren’t having contractions, your membranes haven’t ruptured and it’s not time to deliver, relax. If there is nothing abnormal with the discharge, you can continue to wait. It is important to let your provider know as well. Depending on your condition, your doctor may say to wait or to head to the hospital.
When you have lost your plug, it is a good idea to stay close to where you will deliver. It can be an early sign of labor, so use your time to finish any last-minute preparations for your little one. Stay in-tune with your body. If you feel tension, pushing or a drawing pain in your stomach, similar to menstruation, it may be labor. These pains can be mild contractions at the start of labor. If this happens, see if you can time the cramps. Keep track of how long they are and how often they are occurring. When they are happening faster than every ten minutes, it is time to go.
Call your care provider immediately if:
- The discharge becomes bright red suddenly.
- There is more than about two tablespoons, or an ounce.
- It is before your 37 weeks of pregnancy.
- There is bright red blood.
- You have a lot of pain or cramping.
- Your baby isn’t moving as much.
- Your water broke.
- You are having cramps or pain.
Some of these symptoms can be associated with complications and your doctor will need to be aware.
Is There Risk to Losing Your Plug?
How big is the mucus plug? You will know the answer if it has been passed. Even if you lose your mucus plug, your baby is still protected, because of the surrounding waters. You can take the time to relax.
But don’t take a bath or go swimming in a pool, sea or lake if you’ve lost your plug. It is also advised to change your panties more often, and keep clean sheets and shower regularly, once you’ve lost your plug. Don’t continue with sex if you’ve lost your mucus plug as you are exposing yourself to serious infection.
It is important to remember that if your water breaks, you are more prone to infection especially after the first 24 hours. If you are unsure whether you lost your mucus plug or your waters broke, you should call your doctor.