So you’ve lost your mucus plug, but when does labor start?

It’s hard to know exactly when labor will start, even after you’ve lost your mucus plug. It is, however, a sign that things are moving in the right direction and your baby will be with you soon. At some point late in your pregnancy, your baby will settle down into your pelvis. This is commonly called ‘lightening’ as you should feel some relief from the pressure on your stomach and lungs as the baby moves downwards.

When your baby has dropped into your pelvis, your body responds by producing hormones called ‘prostaglandins’ that stimulate your cervix to ripen. The term ‘ripening’ means that your cervix softens and shortens, to get ready for labor. This is what causes you to lose your mucus plug, which has sealed the entrance to your womb during pregnancy.

So when does labor start?

After you lose your mucus plug, labor may not start for hours, or even days. You could also be in early labor when your cervix starts to open is when you may feel tummy aches, back pain, mild contractions or cramps. When you lose your mucus plug it is commonly called ‘the bloody show’.This is because the jelly-like mucus plug is often blood-tinged, or streaked with old, brownish blood when it comes out.

A lot of women can miss losing their mucus plug if they are on the toilet when it happens, however you may spot it in your underwear, or when you have wiped yourself after using the toilet.



When does the mucus plug come out?

If you feel like you’ve lost your mucus plug before you’re 37 weeks pregnant, you should call your midwife or doctor. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to go into labor early, but it is important to seek medical advice. Losing your mucus plug is not a definite sign that labor will start immediately.

If you’re full-term when you lose your mucus plug, you should wait until you are having frequent and regular contractions before you call your midwife. If labor doesn’t start, you should mention to your doctor at your next appointment. If at any point during your pregnancy, you have bright red blood loss, contact your doctor straight away, so you can be assessed and checked over. But when does labor start?

While it is nerve-wracking waiting for things to progress when you are in late pregnancy, try to stay calm while you wait. It’s only natural that you are getting impatient to meet your baby. Try to keep in mind that the build-up to when labor starts is usually a slow affair. There are subtle pre-labor changes that need to happen in your body before labor does start.

Overall, there is no real definitive answer to the question of ‘when does labor start’ Try to keep a look out for your mucus plug, or as it’s commonly called ‘the bloody show’. If you are worried about anything contact your doctor or midwife. They should also be able to give you a more accurate answer to the question after examining you.



Aoife Sheridan. Senior editor for Raise Vegan. Catch up with her on Instagram.