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What Is The Mucus Plug?
Named after a German gynecologist, Kristell’s mucus plug has the function of protecting the uterus outside and during pregnancy. It prevents bacteria or germs from forming in the cervix by forming thick mucus and can protect you and your baby from infections or premature birth.
How Does The Mucus Plug Form?
As soon as pregnancy begins, the so-called cervical mucus forms in the area of the cervix above the glands. This seals the uterus and now acts as a kind of protective shield. The appearance, color, and consistency of the plug change over the course of pregnancy. This can have different colors (from white to reddish-brown) and consistencies (e.g. jelly-like or liquid).
The formation of mucus depends on the cycle and is hormonally controlled. As soon as an egg is fertilized, it nests. The cervical mucus now becomes tough and thus closes the cervix. This happens at the lower end of the cervical canal. Mucosal folds at the cervix are now responsible for keeping the mucus plug firmly in place there.
The Mucus Plug Has Come Loose – And Now?
Usually, the mucus plug detaches between the 38th and 42nd weeks of pregnancy. Now the slow opening of the cervix begins and the detachment of the membranes from the edge of the cervix takes place. This so-called “drawing bleeding” can be the first sign of the approaching birth. The lighter the color of the plug, the fresher the blood.
If you discover very heavy bleeding with a larger amount of bright red and fresh blood, this can also be the result of a premature placental abruption. In this case, please contact or see a doctor immediately!
Vaginal Discharge Continues To Be Produced
Despite the closure of the cervix by the mucus plug, you will most likely continue to produce white-creamy vaginal discharge. This is not to be confused with the mucus plug coming off and is not an unusual sign of early discharge. So you can rest easy.
The Shedding Of The Mucus Plug Is Individual
Just like your birth experience, the coming off of the mucus plug is a personal and individual experience. This is because the plug can come off in pieces or as a whole. This also often happens when going to the toilet or in the shower. Sometimes the expectant mother does not even notice when the mucus plug has detached.
Early Release Of The Mucus Plug
Even if the mucus plug breaks before the 38th week of pregnancy, your baby is still protected by the amniotic sac. However, you should still avoid swimming in lakes and pools, as well as sexual intercourse, to keep the risk of infection low. If the mucus plug has detached but you don’t feel any contractions, you should stay calm. No contractions indicate that the birth is not yet imminent.
Now Please: Stay Calm!
Even if the mucus plug has been released, you should remain as relaxed as possible. Of course, this is easier said than done. However, try not to be too impatient with yourself and the upcoming birth. Slow down by doing quiet, physical activities or reading a book. Maybe check your hospital bag again or relax with a bath. It would also be good to let your midwife or gynecologist know about the early release.
Functions Of The Mucus Plug At A Glance:
- It protects and prevents infections for mother and child.
- Even in non-pregnant women, vaginal mucus forms from the secretions of the glands around the cervix.
- During pregnancy, the mucus becomes more viscous and seals the cervix.
- Each mucus plug is individual, it can have different colors and consistencies.
- It usually detaches between the 38th and 42nd week of pregnancy.
- The detachment of the mucus plug is the first sign of the approaching birth. But: only with the contractions the actual birth process begins.
- Despite the detachment of the mucus plug before the 38th week of pregnancy, the baby is still protected from pathogens in the womb by the amniotic sac.