Mucous plug: what does it mean when it is white, yellow or brown

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Catherine Le Nevez
@catherinelenevez
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During pregnancy, it may happen to find on the panties a substance with a gelatinous consistency, whitish in color with some traces of blood. It is the mucous plug, a thick layer of mucus that has the function of plugging the opening of the cervix to protect the fetus. Usually, towards the end of pregnancy, the mucous plug peels off and is expelled. It has run out of function because the birth is about to take place. However, if the loss of the mucous plug occurs at an early stage of pregnancy or has a strange color, it is good to talk to the gynecologist.





In this article

  • Mucous plug, what is it
  • Mucous plug, if it is white
  • Mucous plug, if it is yellow
  • Mucous plug, if it is brown
Read also: losses in pregnancy, when they are worrying

Mucous plug, what is it

Already in the first weeks of pregnancy, the cells that line the uterine cervix begin to produce more mucus under the action of hormones such as progesterone. It is not a process that the expectant mother is aware of, because there are no signs such as pain or loss. The mucous plug is a real plug made up of a muco-gelatinous substance, with a protective function towards the child who is growing in the mother's womb. In fact, it physically prevents the ascent of bacteria and germs that could cause infections, responsible for complications and even a premature birth. Loss of the mucous plug usually occurs towards the end of pregnancy and is indeed considered one of the signs that anticipate labor. This occurs three hours to three weeks after the loss of the mucous plug, on average one week later.



Mucous plug, if it is white

The mucous plug is easily recognizable by the woman because it is different from normal pregnancy losses, which are liquid. This fabric has the texture similar to jelly and it is important to observe the color, which provides important information on the health of the mother and baby. Usually the color of the mucous plug is dull white or whitish, similar to albumen and sometimes has streaks or traces of blood. If it has these characteristics and it is already 37 weeks, there is no need to worry. It is in fact a normal manifestation, which indicates that in a few hours or a few days the contractions will begin. If, on the other hand, the pregnancy is at an earlier stage, it is advisable to contact the gynecologist.



Mucous plug, if it is yellow

If the mucous plug is yellow or yellowish and is also accompanied by bad odor, at any stage of pregnancy it is good to contact your gynecologist immediately. Odor and yellowish color are in fact abnormal and could be the signal of a local infection, due to bacteria or fungi, which must be eradicated with appropriate drugs, because it could infect the baby during birth. The gynecologist, in addition to a thorough examination, can perform a vaginal swab. With a sort of cotton swab, he takes a small amount of mucus from the uterine cervix and has it analyzed in the laboratory. In this way it is possible to identify the presence of infection and establish a cure.

Mucous plug, if it is brown

In the event that the mucous plug is brown, the advice is to talk about it anyway with the gynecologist. The causes can in fact be trivial or more serious. The dark brown color is due to the fact that there are blood capillaries in the mucous tissue and can also be caused by "old" blood accumulating in the uterus. However, if the color of the mucous plug is lighter brown, it could be caused by bleeding. Without fussing, it is best to contact your gynecologist for a check-up, so as to rule out complications and make sure that the pregnancy is progressing well.

Sources for this article

  • Aogoi guidelines for the management of preterm labor
  • Section dedicated to childbirth of the Ministry of Health
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