After a woman conceives, a layer of mucus begins to block her cervix the opening of the uterus. Most women lose their mucus plug in the ninth month of pregnancy when the cervix begins to soften or dilate. But what if your mucus plug is released weeks before your baby is due? Losing your mucus plug indicates that labor is near, but the first contractions might not come for days or weeks, says board-certified nurse midwife Kristin Mallon of Integrative Obstetrics in Jersey City, New Jersey. In fact, many women who have previously given birth will lose their mucus plug around that time.
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The answer depends. Your mucus plug is a protective collection of mucus in the cervical canal. During pregnancy, the cervix secretes a thick, jelly-like fluid to keep the area moist and protected. This fluid eventually accumulates and seals the cervical canal, creating a thick plug of mucus. The mucus plug acts as a barrier and can keep unwanted bacteria and other sources of infection from traveling into your uterus.