Baby Hints & Tips

Mucus Plugs – How long after losing a mucus plug will labour start?

The mucus plug – one of those gross things you take a crash course in when pregnant.  Let’s talk about this little wonder of pregnancy and what to do if you lose yours early or if you don’t lose it at all!

Losing a Mucus Plug - How long between losing your mucus plug and starting labour?

A mucus plug is literally a plug of mucus that fills the cervix to protect your baby from bacteria and disease during pregnancy.  The “firm jelly” substance accumulates during pregnancy and blocks the cervix up until the cervix softens and dilates at the end of pregnancy.  In the lead up to child birth, some or all of the plug may be discharged.

What is a mucus plug made from?

Similar to nasal mucus (aka snot) the mucus plug is a moist ‘blanket” protecting your growing baby from bacteria.  It contains enzymes, proteins, cells and antibodies all with a single mission – to keep germs away from your bub.

I lost my mucus plug early – is this bad?

Firstly, you can lose ‘bits” of your mucus plug while the plug remains intact.  So while you may be worried that you’ve lost your plug early, it might just be a small portion of it.  This is usually nothing to be concerned about.  Let’s face it, there’s nothing as weird and unpredictable as a pregnant body!

However, there are two concerns around early mucus plug ejection.  The first is that the baby loses protection from bacteria and viruses. As mucus plugs can be lost any time in the last ten weeks of pregnancy, it’s pretty common for a baby to grow “plug free” for the last trimester however, your birth team may wish to discuss this with you.

The other issue is that losing your mucus plug is a sign that your cervix has started to soften and dilate in preparation for birth.  This isn’t always an issue and you should discuss it with your birth team.  It can however be a sign of an “incompetent cervix” – which means your cervix is struggling to keep the baby in place.  If in doubt, always discuss concerns with your birth team.  There’s every possibility that early loss of a mucus plug is nothing to be concerned about at all.

Wait, it can my mucus plug grow back?

Your mucus plug can be “accidentally” dislodged.  Sex and other “physical activities” as well as infections and plain bad luck can mean your mucus plug evacuates early.  Don’t panic.  Because the mucus plug accumulates throughout your pregnancy, it may just ‘grow back’ – but with all things a bit “unusual” it’s best to talk to your birth team if you do lose your plug early.

What does the mucus plug look like?

The mucus plug is cloudy in colour, has a thick “gelatinous” texture and is sticky.  As you get closer to delivery day, it may be stained with a little blood giving it a redish tone.  But every pregnancy is unique so there’s not one rule for exactly how it will look.  If you find that there’s a “blob” in your underwear or toilet, it’s probably your mucus plug or part of it.  It can look like a long strip of “snot” (imagine the biggest nose blow ever!) or be more rounded and plug like.

The most frequently asked questions about how your mucus plug looks?  Here’s the answers:

  • Yes, a mucus plug can be brown
  • A cervical mucus plug can also be completely clear
  • Yes, you can lose a mucus plug slowly, so it may come in several pieces over several weks
  • Losing your mucus plug can come with a bloody show
  • Losing your mucus plug can come with no blood at all
  • How much mucus plug depends on your body, but is usually a few tablespoons

We asked our community about how their mucus plug looked:

  • My mucus plug was very clear and extremely sticky. Couldn’t wipe it away. Had to pull it out. Lasted for about 2 days and the last thing to come out was something that looked like a 3-4cm dried piece of silicone. Everyone told me it would be tinged with blood but there wasn’t a speck of it. It was a lot like clear snot haha Anon
  • My mucus plug came out continually over several days – little mucusy streaky strips. Phoebe
  • Mine was a bloody show as they say.  It was brownish coloured and tinged with streaks of blood. Simone

We asked Australian mums about their experiences losing their mucus plug

You are not alone!  If you’re going through something odd in pregnancy, the Baby Hints and Tips community is standing by to share their experiences and put your mind at ease.  We asked our community about their experiences losing the mucus plug and here’s what they had to say.

Community question: I’m wondering how long after losing my mucus plug will labour start. I am 37 weeks on Sunday and started I am losing mucus plug last night and again this morning. After seeing the doctor today he thinks bub will be arriving in the next week, how long after losing your mucus plug did you go into labour?

More than a week after losing plug before labour

  • I’ve been losing it since 36 weeks. I’m 39 today. It can regenerate so isn’t a good indication of labour anyway.   Jana
  • 2 weeks.  Dawn
  • I lost my mucous plug from about 37 weeks, at 39 weeks it had bloody tinged and my bub arrived on her due date.   Rachael
  • 5 weeks!   Katie
  • I think it was 2-3 weeks.   Ashley
  •  I lost mine at 33 weeks and went full term.   Danielle
  • I started to lose my mucus plug at 37 weeks and went to 40 weeks and 4days.   Alana
  •  I lost my plug 3 times in 2 months and got woken up 3 weeks later being rushed to hospital via ambulance.   Shyanne
  • Lost plug at 38 weeks, induced 40 +3 for preeclampsia. I know people they can grow back so quiet common to lose twice.   Dianne
  •  I went about 3 weeks after losing my plug and even then I had to be induced!!   Hayley
  •  I went another 2 weeks after completely losing my plug! Hopefully u are sooner. Apparently u can lose the plug quite early and it not effect anything, but if u have a “show” baby is only a few days away or sooner. Good luck!   Taryn
  • At 38 weeks then was induced at 40 + 2. My OB said its very common that you won’t go into labour straight away, bub will come whenever they want to. Good luck!   Claudia
  • Started losing at 38 weeks but dd was in breech (vertically) and no labour. Went for inducement at 42 weeks and ended up having emerg c. Silly ob forgot to pass on my file and the hospital forgot to inform me I was meant to have a planned c at 39 weeks! Good luck!!   Kyarra
  •  3 weeks.   Felicia
  •  I lost bits of my mucus plug over a period of 2 weeks and i was induced.   Emma
  •  I was 36 weeks when I started losing mine and dr said it’d be no longer than 2 weeks. Bub was 2 days overdue!   Hayley
  •  Started at 35 weeks, had an elective c/sect at 40+1.   Karla
  • Over 4 weeks!! Apparently it’s not a onetime loss in some people; the body can replace it if the cervix is only slightly dilated.  Danielle

Went into labour the next day after I lost my plug

  •  Lost my mucus plug at night next morning was in labour but gave birth the 3rd day.   Stavos
  • With my first (nearly 15yrs ago) lost my mucus plug in the morning and my daughter was born the next day via emergency cesaerean.   Kathryne
  • The next day i was 40+1.   Nicole
  • The next day.   Carla
  •  The next day I went into labour!   Claudia

Labour started the same day as I lost my mucus plug

Learn about precipitous labour – childbirth that moves too fast

  •  Same day.   Kemer
  •  Started having contractions the same day @ 41 weeks.   Sarah
  •  The same day…with 2 out of 3.   Tara
  • 1 went into labour 12 hrs after losing it with my first and with my second I went into labour 2 hours before I lost it.   Bec
  • Both my pregnancies I went into labour 24 hours after losing my plug.   Kylie
  • I was 40+5, had our dd about 7-8 hours after losing mucus plug.   Debbie
  •  I lost mine at 6:30am and my son was born at 7:54am.   Chantelle
  • Lost mucous plug at 6.30am bub was born 1122am the following day after labouring through the day and night. Best of luck. Doesn’t always happen that way though may still be a week who knows!   Aimee
  •  Same day early morning plug lost, late night delivery.   Peta
  • That night late i went into labour after losing mine in the arvo but my waters had broken that morning.   Bec
  •  With 2nd bub, lost plug around 630-7am and had bouncing baby girl at 230pm.  Jane
  •  Lost my mine 1 hr before my DS was born.  Bec
  •  Within hours – good luck!   Alice
  •  I went into labour the same day i lost my plug.   Lisa
  •  I lost mine at 39weeks n had my son 12 hours later.   Kyrie
  •  ‘The show’ started, and then 2 hours later contractions and dd was born 24 hrs later.   Lizzie
  •   Same day for all 3 kids.   Bianca
  •  When I lost it I went into labour about 1 hour later!  Belinda
  •  Mucus plug came away at 2pm. Cuddling baby at 11.30pm.   Kylie
  •  I didn’t lose my plug until I was actively in labour in the hospital.  Jordana

Went into labour within a few days of losing plug

  •  Lost it on Saturday. Went into labour Monday.   Kylie 
  • Four days.   Louise 
  • I’m not sure what the difference is between the show and the mucus plug? But I lost my plug after a stretch and sweep at 39 weeks and then had the bloody show about 4 days later and then labour started within the hour!   Amy
  • I was less than 40 weeks pregnant when that happened too. I went into labour a day after my due date and my son was born the next morning.   Kelly
  • I lost my plug on a Tuesday afternoon, waters broke Wednesday afternoon at 4.30pm, contractions started at 1am Thursday morning, bub was born via emergency c-section (breech) Thursday night.   Leasha
  • 3 days. I was 36.5 weeks with shortened cervix. Plug can out, then went into labour three days later. Good luck! How exciting!   Jenny
  • Lost plug Monday morning… In labour Tuesday 8pm… Had bub Wednesday 3.06pm.   Hannah
  •  Started losing it 39+6 weeks and kept losing it until waters broke at 5pm on 40+1, he was born at 4am on 40+2.   Alana

Labour started one week after I lost my plug

  •  One week.   Kelly 
  •  At 37 weeks I was 3cm dilated and lost plug a few days later. Had bubby at 38 weeks.   Jakki
  • 1 week and 1 day still no sign then had to have urgent c section (pre eclampsia).   Jennie

Varying with each pregnancy

  •  1st time 48 hours later, 2nd time 24 hours, 3rd time 12 hours. From losing plug to birth.   Hannah
  •  Lost plug with bub #1 at 38 weeks. Started contractions about 36 hours later and bub born about 18 hours after that. Bub #2, 39 weeks and had her about 24 hours after.   Christine 
  •  I lost my plug around 36 weeks with my daughter and she was 3 days over , my son I didn’t lose till about 39 weeks and he was 6 days over , good luck could be any day.   Jade


Read other mums early signs of labour here

Other tips about child birth and labour

Breech Birth


Natural birth

During labour

After birth

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