When the end of pregnancy draws near, you may decide you are ready to get it over with. Plenty of trips to the restroom in the middle of the night, a stomach that gets in your way and weight gain have all taken their toll. The good news is when you see blood and mucus, you are probably close to going into labor and meeting your little baby in person.
During your pregnancy, you have had a mucus plug covering the opening to your cervix. The purpose of this plug is to protect your baby from infection by blocking the opening of your cervix. Without this mucus plug, bacteria and infection could enter through your cervix and put your health and your baby’s health at risk.
Your mucus plug will dislodge as your body readies for labor. It has to leave your body to allow your cervix to dilate and open as your contractions gain momentum. Sometimes, loss of the plug goes unnoticed if it occurs while using the restroom or while your vaginal discharge has increased, which is also a normal phase of late pregnancy. If you do notice when it dislodges, it can appear bloody or blood-tinged. It can also be clear.
Many women get very excited when they lose their mucus plug. They see the bloody discharge, notice the plug and believe they are about to go into labor. While this may be true in some cases, it is not true in all cases. Once you lose your plug, labor can begin within hours, or may not begin for up to three weeks.
In most cases, there is no reason to notify your physician when you lose your mucus plug, according to American Pregnancy Association, though it is recommended that you let your doctor know during your next check up that your plug has dislodged. While a typical mucus plug dislodging doesn’t require medical attention, there are instances in which you need to notify your doctor immediately. If you notice that your vaginal discharge becomes bright red or it increases in volume to surpass two tablespoons of liquid, the APA recommends you call your doctor immediately. These events could indicate complications including placenta previa, which causes severe bleeding and needs emergency medical attention.
When you first notice your bloody mucus or blood-tinged discharge, it may be stressful or scary; however, it is a normal step in pregnancy and indicates that your body is getting ready to bring your little bundle of joy into the world. It is time to make sure you get plenty of rest so you will be ready for the hard work that labor entails. Whether your labor starts that night or three weeks from now, know that seeing that bloody, mucus plug is an important pregnancy milestone.
- pregnant #10 image by Adam Borkowski from Fotolia.com