How Soon After I lose my Plug Does Labor Start?

QUESTION

Dear Midwife
I am 38 weeks pregnant and told at my last appointment that I was 1 cm dilated.

How early can you loose your mucus plug? I have had discharge since the beginning of my pregnancy, but I think I may have fully lost it today. At one point today, I discharged about three times the amount I typically do.

Could this be it? If so when will actual labor begins?

ANSWER

The plug can be lost as much as 6 weeks before labor, but usually it happens a few days before delivery. If you are only 1 cm, it still may be a while.

Try to enjoy your baby while it doesn't need to be changed, it's not crying, and it doesn't need to be fed. This is a really neat time in your relationship with your baby, don't miss the miracle!

-- Cynthia, CNM

Cynthia Flynn

Cynthia Flynn, CNM. PhD, is the General Director of the Family Health and Birth Center which provides prenatal, birth, postnatal, gynecological and primary health care to underserved women and their families in Washington, D.C. Recently Cynthia served as Associate Professor of Nursing at Seattle University. There she not only taught, but remained in full scope clinical midwifery practice at Valley Medical Center where she cared for pregnant and birthing women, and practices well-woman gynecology, family planning, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

Cynthia founded Columbia Women's Clinic and Birth Center, where she took care of pregnant women and infants up to two weeks of age and attended both birth center and hospital births. Before Cynthia earned her CNM, she worked as a registered nurse in labor and delivery and postpartum and is a certified Doula and Doula trainer.