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Nancy SullivanMucous Plug
by Nancy Sullivan, CNM, MS, FACNM

Q. How can you tell when your mucous plug comes out? What does it look like and can it come out in pieces or does it stay in one piece? When it falls out does that mean that the onset of labor is close?

A. The mucous plug is highly over-rated as a predictor of labor. Some of them are expelled several weeks prior to the initiation of labor, and others seem to ride out on the head of the baby. Most of them don't come out intact, but rather as streaks or gobs of blood-tinged mucus, usually seen when wiping after using the toilet. If you are having strong, regular, painful contractions, and see a large amount of bloody mucus or "show," then it is indeed a sign that things are happening. Otherwise, wait for those contractions.

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