It’s not uncommon for women to experience slimy discharge during pregnancy, especially in the later stages. This discharge is usually nothing to worry about and is simply a result of the increased amount of mucus production in the body during pregnancy. However, if you experience any other symptoms along with the discharge, or if the discharge has a strong smell or is accompanied by itching, you should speak to your doctor.
The Mucus plug
If you’re at or near 39 weeks pregnant, your body could be giving you some signals that labor is right around the corner. One of those signs may be an increase in vaginal discharge — which may also be tinged with blood, called bloody show.
This discharge is usually called lochia, and it’s one of the ways that your body removes your uterine lining after pregnancy. In the first few days after birth, lochia will have a red or reddish-brown color because it contains blood. Lochia can change to yellow before becoming watery and clear as time goes on. While you’re still pregnant, lochia may appear as a slimy liquid or mucus plug inside your vagina. This typically happens when your cervix starts to dilate in preparation for labor.
Mucus Plug Loss
In order to better understand what is happening, it is important to keep in mind that the mucus plug is simply a protective collection of mucus and cells from the cervix that develops throughout your pregnancy. The purpose of these cells and mucus is to protect your uterus from anything that might be harmful, including bacteria and viruses. As your cervix dilates during labor, the mucus plug becomes dislodged and expelled through your vagina. Unlike other forms of vaginal discharge, which may vary in color throughout pregnancy due to hormones, the color of a mucus plug tends to remain consistent with what it looked like when you first became pregnant. If there are any changes in color or consistency after the initial loss, talk to your doctor or midwife right away.
What Is Mucus Plug
Mucus plug protects your cervix from bacteria, dust and other foreign particles. The mucus plug is a thick barrier of mucus with a small amount of blood that blocks the cervix during pregnancy. It is made up of mucus, cervical cells and normal vaginal bacteria. Throughout your pregnancy, the consistency and colour may change due to the thinning and softening of your cervix in preparation for labour.
If you lose your mucous plug at 39 weeks you could be in labor but not necessarily, as it may come out hours or even days before labor starts.
The colour of mucous plug also varies from white, brownish or pink-tinged to red as it is mixed with blood vessels as they rupture.
It is normal to have a lot of discharge at 39 weeks pregnant.
Your mucus plug is clear to milky white in color and thick, similar to the consistency of boogers. It may have a slight tinge of blood. The blood color can vary from pinkish-red, red, brown or dark brown. If your discharge is light pink or tan there are other causes for this as well. It should be noted though that most women do not notice when they lose their mucus plug at all because it comes out slowly with bloody show (a small amount of spotting) throughout late pregnancy. The plug will re-form if it comes out too early so don’t worry if you think you lost yours early on!
If your discharge is dark red in color call your doctor right away especially if you are 39 weeks pregnant. This could mean that your baby is in distress and needs help during delivery immediately.
When does discharge get normal?
As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll notice more and more changes in your body. One of those changes might be an increase in vaginal discharge.
In fact, vaginal discharge during pregnancy is common and usually nothing to worry about. But it can sometimes indicate a problem that needs medical attention, so it’s important to know what’s typical for you.
Here’s how it works: Vaginal discharge is made up of secretions from the cervix, old cells from the walls of the vagina, and normal vaginal bacteria. During pregnancy — particularly later on — your body makes more estrogen, which causes the vagina to produce more discharge.
For some women, this increase in discharge starts early on in pregnancy due to hormonal changes, but for others it happens later as the cervix begins to soften and open up (dilate) in preparation for labor. If you notice a thick or bloody mucus plug at any point during pregnancy — not just near your due date — talk with your doctor right away..
When To Call the Doctor
If you’re not sure if your discharge is due to the mucus plug, go to your doctor. Prepare a description of the discharge. The loss of the mucus plug is a common part of labor and is typically not dangerous.
If any of the following occur, call your healthcare professional as soon as possible:
- Before 37 weeks of pregnancy, you lose your mucous plug.
- Heavy bleeding that is accompanied by pain or contractions is a sign that something is wrong.
- A quick burst of fluid from your vaginal opening.
During the later weeks of pregnancy, discussing the indications of labor with your healthcare professional can be beneficial and comforting. If you have any concerns about your symptoms, you should speak with your healthcare provider.
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by American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (Author)