Mucus plug: what it looks like and how long until labour starts

What you need to know about losing your mucus plug during pregnancy
How long after losing your mucus plug do you go into labour? Dr Louise Wiseman answers your questions.
By Dr Louise Wiseman MBBS, BSc (Hons), DRCOG, MRCGP
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If you’re preparing for the arrival of a new baby you might have lots of unanswered questions to consider, such as what is a mucus plug and what is a bloody show? And if you think you might have lost your mucus plug, should you head to the hospital.

Your mucus plug protects the cervical canal during pregnancy, and losing your mucus plug can be a early sign of labour, but not always. Dr Louise Wiseman answers your most common questions about the mucus plug, so you know when to relax and when to grab your birthing bag and hotfoot it to the maternity hospital:

What exactly is the mucus plug?
When a woman is pregnant, the cervix secretes a thick jelly-like substance to protect the labour canal and keep it moist. Because the cervix is closed, this fluid seals the area closed and forms what is called the mucus plug. The baby is protected in pregnancy by the amniotic sac and the plug provides an extra barrier of protection. It protects the baby from any infection or bacteria coming up the mother’s reproductive tract.
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