Birth Definitions

Mucus Plug Definition


The Mucus Plug is a plug of mucus that seals the cervix during pregnancy. The cervix is the opening to the uterus and is located at the top of the vagina. The mucus plug is also known as the cervical plug or simply, “the plug”. It is composed of mucus from the cervical glands, epithelial cells, leukocytes, and debris from vaginal secretions.

The mucus plug plays an important role in protecting the fetus from infection. The mucus plug acts as a barrier to bacteria and other organisms that could cause infection. It also helps to keep the cervix sealed so that there is no leakage of amniotic fluid.

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How and When is it Dislodged?

The mucus plug can be dislodged by several things including: changes in hormones, sexual intercourse, cervical exams, or even just time. When the mucus plug is dislodged, it usually comes out in one piece (although it can come out in small pieces). It may be tinged with blood because when it breaks away it can cause some bleeding from small blood vessels in the cervix. The loss of the mucus plug signals that labor may begin soon.

Mucus plug is usually expelled from the body during labor, but sometimes it may be released before labor begins. This can happen when the cervix begins to dilate (open) prematurely. If this happens, there is an increased risk of infection for both the mother and the baby.

This image shows how often the term ‘Mucus Plug’ is used in relation to other, similar birth terms:

Other Terms Related to Mucus Plug

Other terms closely related to the Mucus Plug are:

  • show (a bloody discharge that occurs when the cervix begins to dilate)
  • waters breaking (when amniotic fluid leaks before or during labor)
  • effacement (when the cervix thins out and gets shorter)

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