Lost mucus plug: Is labor imminent?

I am in my 35th week of pregnancy and I lost my mucous plug five days ago. I went to the doctor for a check up and was informed that my cervix was still closed. My membranes have not ruptured. I have experienced heavy discharge in the mornings since losing the plug. This is my second pregnancy. With my first child, my water broke shortly after losing the plug. When can I expect to go into labor?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

Frustrating as it is, each pregnancy is as different as each labor is and is different as each baby is. The mucous plug can be dislodged without any provocation; it often happens after a cervical check in the clinic but does not give any real indication of when labor is to begin. Although 35 weeks is a bit early to experience this, it does not mean labor will happen soon. Unless - is it possible that you are off on your dates and you are really one week from term instead of five?

Anatomically, there are two openings within the cervix. The internal os is part of the lower uterine segment and this portion begins to stretch and thin (efface) as gestation advances. Any effacement or dilation of the internal or external os may cause discharge or the loss of the mucous plug. This barrier of cervical mucous will "regenerate" to some extent and this discharge may stop soon only to restart with intercourse or activity or another cervical check.

Your membranes, although they ruptured prior to labor with your first child, may stay intact until the end with this one. Funny how there are no absolutes in childbearing. If this discharge has been proven NOT to be rupture of membranes, (have they looked for ferning under the microscope and tested it with pH paper?), there is no cause for concern and you could maintain your normal activities.

If you experience any leaking of fluid or back ache or cramping or contractions that won't go away with change in activity, you should call your care provider. At 35 weeks, you are still preterm and they may wish to attempt to stop labor depending on baby's size and condition.

I hope all goes well for you.

Peg

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