How to Speed Up Labor After Losing Your Mucus Plug

Pregnant woman feel the sticky mucus plug come out on her underwear.

  • A mucus plug is a collection of mucus that protects your growing baby from bacteria.
  • Most women lose their mucus plug as their body gets closer to labor.
  • Losing your mucus plug too early can increase your risk of infection.
  • Call your doctor if you lose your mucus plug before 37 weeks or if you have heavy bleeding.

As you near the end of your pregnancy, you are probably getting excited to meet your new baby. Losing your mucus plug often means that your body is preparing for labor. If you are healthy and full term, you can safely follow these tips for how to speed up labor after losing your mucus plug. 

Mucus Plug: Everything You Need to Know

The mucus plug is just one of many things that your body does to keep you and your baby safe and healthy during pregnancy. Although the name might sound off-putting, it’s actually a healthy part of every pregnancy. 

The Mucus Plug

The Mayo Clinic describes the cervical mucus plug as a thick collection of mucus that acts as a barrier between your vagina and your cervix. Your body usually begins to produce mucus in the first few weeks of your pregnancy and remains in your body until around 37 weeks gestation.

The mucus plug provides protection for your baby from the outside world. The mucus really does create a plug that does not allow bacteria to enter from the vagina into the cervix. 

Mucus Plug vs Normal Vaginal Discharge

Your mucus plug can be difficult to differentiate from normal vaginal discharge. You may lose parts of your mucus plug throughout your pregnancy, making it seem more like continuous discharge. If this happens, your body will simply create more mucus to reinforce the seal between your baby and the outside world. 

Although they are similar, there are ways to spot the differences between a mucus plug and regular vaginal discharge. Vaginal discharge is usually thin and white or light yellow. Mucus plugs are usually clear and jelly-like, and they may be slightly bloody. This is why it’s sometimes called the “bloody show.”

Pregnant woman hands holding discharge with foul smell.

How to Tell That You Have Lost Your Mucus Plug

As you get closer to labor, you will probably be watching for any signs showing that your body is getting ready to deliver your baby. As your cervix softens, the baby drops lower and the cervix prepares for delivery. This will make your cervix dilate, making more room for your mucus plug to come out.

Signs That You Have Lost Your Mucus Plug 

Some women notice that they have lost their mucus plug right away. You may feel the sticky mucus plug come out or may see it in your underwear or on toilet paper. For others, the mucus plug breaks apart and comes out in small pieces over time.

Losing your mucus plug is more subtle than water breaking, and you should not feel any pelvic pressure or pain when you lose your plug.

When to Watch for a Mucus Plug

You can start to keep an eye out for your mucus plug several weeks before your due date. Often, pregnant women lose their plug after some kind of disturbance to the area. Keep an eye on your underwear or toilet paper after you have sex or have a cervical exam, since these are times when your mucus plug may be more likely to come out.

What Happens After the Mucus Plug Falls Out?

A mucus plug usually falls out because the cervix has started to dilate. As the cervix dilates, the mucus plug is no longer tightly held in place and it falls out. 

Labor

For some women, losing their mucus plug is one of the first signs of labor. You may start to have contractions or notice that your water breaks within a few hours to days after you lose your mucus plug. 

Risk of Infection

While the mucus plug does protect your baby from infection, it can regenerate if it falls out too early. There is a small risk of infection while your mucus plug regenerates, but it’s rare for a lost mucus plug to lead to an infection in you or your baby. 

Risk of Preterm Labor

The biggest problem that mothers will encounter after losing their mucus plug is if early labor begins. Losing your mucus plug is a sign that your cervix is dilating and preparing for labor.

If you lose your mucus plug before 37 weeks, your cervix might be dilating too early, and you are at risk of going into early labor. If you experience labor symptoms after losing your mucus plug before 37 weeks, see your healthcare professional immediately.

How to Speed Up Labor After Losing Your Mucus Plug

If you are full term and notice that your mucus plug falls out, it’s time to start preparing for your baby to arrive. You might not want to wait any longer to meet your new baby, and want to try some tips and tricks to speed up your labor. 

If you’re ready to deliver your baby, there are several things you can try to speed up your labor. These include:

1. Midwives Brew

Midwives brew is a special tea that has been used for decades to help induce labor. It contains several laxative ingredients that help to stimulate the bowels and irritate the uterus. This can encourage the uterus to start contractions and jumpstart your labor. 

2. Curb Walking

Curb walking is just walking with one foot on the ground and one foot on the curb. This uneven gait is said to open up the hips and help your labor progress. 

3. Nipple Stimulation

Some mothers will use their breast pump to try to induce labor. Using your breast pump can help your body release the hormone oxytocin, which can encourage labor to start. 

4. Sexual Intercourse

Sex is another way to encourage your body to release oxytocin. This can get contractions started and get your body ready for delivery. 

5. Acupuncture 

While it can be controversial, some mothers swear by acupuncture for speeding up labor. During acupuncture, a specialist uses different pressure points to tell your body that it’s time to go into labor. 

6. Pineapple 

Pineapple is said to increase your body’s production of prostaglandins, which encourages labor. While the effect will be mild, it definitely doesn’t hurt to try!

Keeping Your Baby Safe

Remember that delivering your baby too early can be unsafe and cause complications for your new baby. Wait until you have reached full term before you try anything to speed up your labor. It is always best to discuss your plans with your doctor before you try any strategies for speeding up your labor. 

Mother with Pregnant Daughter in Doctor Office.

When to Call Your Doctor

Severe Pain

Pain is an expected part of labor and delivery. Descriptions of labor like the ring of fire make it seem obvious that some pain is to be expected when you deliver your baby. If you experience severe pain at any time during your pregnancy, make sure to call your doctor right away. Whether the pain is due to labor contractions or some kind of problem, your physician needs to know about it

Losing Your Mucus Plug Too Early

If you notice that you lose your mucus plug before 37 weeks, call your doctor and let them know. They will probably have you come in for an examination. During your exam, they can check your cervix to see if it has begun the process of dilation and effacement.

If your cervix has started to dilate, there are medications that you can take to slow labor and help your baby’s lungs prepare for the world more quickly. You may be placed on bed rest or have to take it easy until you are further along in your pregnancy. 

Significant Bleeding

The American Pregnancy Association states that any significant vaginal bleeding throughout pregnancy is a reason to call your doctor right away. It is always better to be cautious, and call your doctor if you notice any bleeding.

Sometimes, as labor begins, there may be a small amount of bloody discharge mixed with your mucus plug. This is different from having significant vaginal bleeding.

If your bleeding is significant, or is accompanied by moderate to severe cramping, go to your nearest urgent care center or emergency room to get checked out. Bleeding heavily may be a sign of a serious pregnancy complication called placental abruption, and you will need treatment right away. 

FAQs

Is it possible to go into labor without losing the mucus plug?

Some women go into labor without noticing they’ve lost their mucus plug. Since the mucus plug does not always come out all at once, it can be easy to miss. However, it’s impossible to deliver your baby without losing your mucus plug. Since the mucus plug is the barrier between your cervix and vagina, it has to come out before your baby does. 

Can your mucus plug fall out without you knowing?

Many women don’t notice when their mucus plug falls out. There are several reasons for this.

First, it is not uncommon to have an increase in vaginal discharge during pregnancy. This increase in discharge can mask the loss of your mucus plug. In addition, the mucus plug may break apart and fall out a little bit at a time. These small pieces of mucus plug might not be obvious or even noticeable.

How big is a mucus plug typically?

A mucus plug is a clear, jelly-like substance that creates a barrier between the cervix and the vagina. It has to be big enough to block the opening, but small enough that it can easily pass through the vagina when labor begins. Typically, the mucus plug is about 1-2 inches in diameter, or roughly the size of a quarter.

How to Speed Up Labor After Losing Your Mucus Plug

The information WonderBaby provides is not intended to be, and does not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. Always consult with a qualified medical professional about your specific circumstances.


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