When it comes to labor and birth, mucous is sort of a funny thing. In pregnancy, your body produces quite a bit of it. Mucous works to form a barrier at the base of the uterus to help protect the baby’s environment from infection. You probably won’t be surprised that the barrier will expel itself from the body at some point before the baby is born. What you might be surprised to learn is that it doesn’t always happen in the form of a mucous plug. So it is possible for the increased mucous to clump together and release from the body in that form. It’s more common that mucous will soften and release slowly over time. You may notice an increase of either watery or mucousy discharge towards the end of your pregnancy. It’s totally normal and not generally a sign of labor, especially if that’s the only sign you’re noticing.
What is more a sign of labor is blood-tinged mucous, commonly known as bloody show. The cervix has blood vessels, so as it stretches and opens as a result of regular contractions, the blood vessels will break or burst causing a few teaspoons to a tablespoon of blood at time. So you can begin to see how adult diapers are most helpful as your pregnancy starts to come to a conclusion! If you feel alarmed by any amount of bleeding during early labor, never hesitate to tell your care provider!
We know it can feel anxiety producing to think about things like mucous and blood leaving your body. But it’s a sign your body is doing exactly what it’s supposed to. Every healthy pregnancy and birth includes some messy parts.
What about timing? If you’ve noticed increased mucous or the expulsion of a mucous plug, it doesn’t necessarily mean labor will happen soon. It could still be weeks away! As we covered in the previous post about Braxton Hicks, regularly occurring, long and strong contractions are the most reliable sign of true labor, especially along with that bloody show. So although we know the final month of pregnancy seems to last at least 3,635 days, the bottom line here is that patience is a virtue. Many babies need the full 40 weeks to allow their lungs to fully develop, and will release a hormone as that happens to signal to the body to produce those strong contractions. Amazing, isn’t it? Yeah, yeah, yeah, tell me again how amazing my body is after my baby is in my arms.