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Mucus Plug: Worst Word Combo In The English Language

By Monica Bielanko |

First, you’re welcome for not using a photo depicting the subject of  this post.  I think this photo of a unicorn licking a rainbow is so much nicer, don’t you?

Listen, whatever you do, do not do a Google image search for mucus plug.  I did that earlier, while at the news station where I work, and shared my findings with a couple co-workers.  That’s just how I am.

A reporter, who has listened to me bitch throughout the duration of this pregnancy, didn’t even turn around from her computer while responding  thusly:  Please don’t say that term again.  I am going to my doctor tomorrow and asking to get my tubes tied.

I laughed for ten minutes.  Until a photographer came up and asked what I was laughing about and I said, “Just a gross pregnancy term.”

“Mucus plug?”  He immediately asked.

Obviously a father.

Before I became pregnant I thought moist panties was the worst word combo in the English language.  But mucus plug emerged from the murky world of pregnancy terminology and rocketed to the top spot and will likely never, ever be *dethroned.

Although torn vagina is a close second.

In spite of the unsavory images that leap to mind when one hears the term mucus plug, I’ve been thinking about them a lot as of late.

For those out of the mucus plug loop here’s a quick explainer:  Throughout pregnancy, a mucus plug blocks the opening of the cervix to prevent bacteria from entering the uterus. Before labor, the mucus plug is expelled so that the cervix can open to allow the baby to pass through during labor and birth.  Passing a mucus plug is a sign that your cervix is dilating and your body is starting to prepare for birth. Labor could be hours, days, or even weeks away as the cervix gradually opens over time.  To spare further description, a mucus plug looks exactly like what you’d think it looks like.

Pro tip:  Call your health care provider if your discharge is bright red and the amount is more than an ounce (about two tablespoons). You could be experiencing a complication such as placenta previa or placental abruption.

But back to me and my mucus plug daydreams.

At 37 weeks, technically full-term, I can’t help but wonder if each bathroom visit is going to be the one in which I spot the telltale sign of impending labor.  It’s the same array of feelings I went through when I was trying to get pregnant.  Each trip to the bathroom was a roller coaster of emotions.  Will I get my period?  Am I pregnant?  Except now it’s will I see the notorious mucus plug?  Am I going into labor soon?

I was induced the first time around because I went past my due date so I was denied the whole mucus plug and/or water breaking scenario.  As I believe I’ve mentioned a time or two, I’m really hoping for an action-packed labor and mad dash to the hospital.  None of this boring, roll up to the hospital and get hooked up to a Pitocin drip, for me.  I want mucus!  And water breakage!  And law breakage via a speeding vehicle!

Is that so wrong?

*Wondering:  Can you top the nauseating word combos that are mucus plug, moist panties or torn vagina?

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About Monica Bielanko


Monica Bielanko

Monica Bielanko was raised on the wild frontier of late 1970's Utah. She is a recovering Mormon who married the guitar player of an unknown band. She's been married to her Babble Voices writing partner, Serge Bielanko, for the past nine years. Her personal blog, The Girl Who was in the top ten of last year's Top 50 list. Read bio and latest posts → Read Monica's latest posts →

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30 thoughts on “Mucus Plug: Worst Word Combo In The English Language

  1. stephanie says:

    I dn’t have another term, but I was also induced with my 1st at 40wks 5 days and didn’t get to go through all the mucous plug and water breakage but with my second I had to false alarms, I lost my plug at 39wks but still didn’t go into labot until 41wks 2 days, although I had contractions my whole pregnancy, my midwife was sure I would go early but it was a no go. My water didn’t even break until I was 8 cm and 10 minutes later my daughter was born. My total labor w/#2 was only 4 hours from the time I got to my midwifes house and the time I delivered.

  2. Kate says:

    I never did see any sign of my mucus plug. The biggest mess (other than the birth itself) was my water breaking on the hospital bed while answering a questionnaire in between contractions. Actually, it struck me as I’m typing this, the waters are clear, aren’t they? If so, I guess my plug came out at the same time.
    And I agree, totally the nastiest word combo I can think of.

  3. Alison says:

    During one of my internal exams late in pregnancy, my doctor ended up with mine in her hands. I nearly had a heart attack on the spot! You’re right–they look exactly like their name. I didn’t even need to ask what it was!!! Gross!!!

  4. January says:

    I too bypassed the beautiful mucus plug experience the first time….the second however. Not so lucky. Ew. And for the record I have 2 more words to add to the nastiest word combos imaginable. It’s a term my husband likes to use to make sure my gag reflex is still in working order…..phlegm giblet. Awwww! So gross!

  5. gina says:

    pardon the pardum terms: Lochia, Meconium and….ew ew ew….somewhat unrelated….schmeg.

  6. Jessica Gulasch says:

    Oh! Oh! I love it! I’m in my 23rd week (more than half the time. YES!) and I also desire the water breakage and running of red lights and such. My first pregnancy was also induced and I was sad about it. It was quite boring, laying in the hospital, waiting. But the 14hrs I spent on the floor of my bedroom dying from intense labor pains were AWESOME! The fact that I was literally hanging for dear life on the edge of the bed in incredible pain and my son’s father DID NOT hear me, still amazes me to this day.

  7. LCM says:

    As a medical transcriptionist for an OB/GYN with an exotic accent, I was required to figure out the following term: “phallus odor” (foul-ish odor, an actual medical descriptor that means exactly what it sounds like, ick, and is sometimes referred to as “failing the sniff test” which, ick some more. My favorite medical term by far remains “palisading syndesmophytes”, which I just find fun to say.

  8. sheba says:

    “Head cheese.”

    There, I said it. And I’m not talking about the kind you make from pig brains either.

    And my gay friends used to use a term that may be unfamiliar to some readers. It was “Packin’ peanuts.”

    Sort of went along with the head cheese idea……

  9. whimm says:

    If thats the sort of labor you want, try NOT getting induced or having an epidural! Let your body do what it was meant to do, and let your baby come when he chooses. All of the procedures involved in so many hospital births really seem to slow things down- I know quite a few women who were induced/had an epidural with their first only to have a complicated, LONG labor, and then choose natural, spontaneous childbirth for their second, and lo and behold! Way shorter, way less complicated, way easier recoup. And each of those women I know swore they’d never go through said procedures again (unless absolutely necessary). Both my births were natural, one in hospital and one at home, and both took place in the course of about two hours. Painful, yes! But letting my body do what it fully KNEW how to do seemed to make the process short and bearable, plus I felt AWESOME afterwards and was up and about in no time.
    Of course, I fully respect any woman’s decision on whatever she wants to do with her birth experience- we are all different, and no one can say what is better for anyone but themselves. I truly don’t mean to brag, or to put anyone down for their choices or experience- each to their own, for real. Just sayin, myself and many women around me have had those “movie births”, but they were all drug free and spontaneous.

  10. Elissa says:

    I saw my mucus plug with my first pregnancy – 2 days later my water broke and I went into labor. I never saw the plug with the second – at least nothing that was easily identifiable enough to call it the mucus plug. But my second went fast. During the last week before my due date I went to the doctor who told me I was not at all dialated or effaced and he thought I had at least a week to go. The next day I went into labor – I didn’t believe it (thought maybe false labor), when I called and talked to the dr. – he didn’t believe it (told me to take my time), when I got to the hospital they told me that I might just be dehydrated… they checked and I was 7cm. They then said good job and started rushing to get the epidural… I’m betting your second will come with more fanfare than your first :)

  11. ceridwen says:

    so funny! of course the bloody show is the punk rock version.
    i must say i do find it hard to talk about a woman’s soft, mushy cervix with a straight face… soft and mushy are actually medical terms. i mean “efface” is the most medical but docs will say you’re very soft and mushy…. then there are just the downright F’d up, unnecessarily negative terms like: INCOMPETENT cervix, FAILURE to progress and can we find a more delicate name for VACUUM EXTRACTION?

  12. touhy says:

    I had the gushing breakage of water at 4am on a Wednesday morning. Very dramatic. Woke me up off the couch which was the only comfortable place to sleep for the final 3 months of the pregnancy (glad I had covered it with a waterproof sheet!) Went to the hospital and refused the pitocin and the drugs, determined to do it naturally. Fast forward 18 hours when my projectile vomiting all over my husband was getting out of hand and we finally surrendered to an epidural, then to Pitocin, and then, finally, after 27 hours of labor and STILL only dialated to 8cm, a C-section. Which, considering that the kid weighed 9 lbs 11oz, was most likely to best possible outcome. So, good luck! Even the dramatic breaking of water doesn’t guarantee a quick dramatic birth!

  13. Dusty says:

    Icompletely agree on all accounts, though discharge is another word I hate… I remember the constant “am I pregnant” and plug checks myself. Too funny! My water broke while I was getting an epidural. I said “either my water just broke or I wet the bed, not sure which. Hope it was the former!”

  14. sheba says:

    Ok, Monica, I read the article at the Daily Mail (UK) about girls getting their privates waxed or what have you and the fact that a writer wrote about her young daughter doing. Two writers contributed and one remarked about the recent rash of even pregnant women seeking to get de-haired down there and of course, I THOUGHT ABOUT YOU!

  15. johncaveosborne says:

    monica — i wanna buy your co-worker a drink for that comment alone. check that. make it two.

    wonderfully funny post. love the way you write, friend.

  16. Bren says:

    How about “rectal tear” – that’s “tear” as in rip, not “tear” as in cry. I had a n emergent C-section so I was “spared” the pushing but that term remains, to me, one of the ickscariest……

  17. MonicaBielanko says:

    @Bren Although Rectal Tear (as in cry) is a cool name for a band, no?!

  18. MonicaBielanko says:

    @Ceridwen And “Bloody Show” is a great punk rock band name!

  19. charity says:

    I googled the images. ew..

  20. MonicaBielanko says:

    @Charity Yikes! Hope you weren’t in the middle of lunch! See, the unicorn licking a rainbow IS better, right?

  21. Kelli says:

    Telling me about a gross bodily function and then expecting me not to google it is unrealistic.

    Damn. Just when hubs and I were talking about starting a family. Excuse me, I have to go wash my eyes with bleach now.

  22. Bridgette says:

    I can top yours….29 DAYS OVERDUE!

    Top that!

    She weighed 10 pounds 1 ounce and came out looking for the circus!

  23. MonicaBielanko says:


  24. Juli says:

    I don’t think I can top the nauseating word combos: mucus plug or moist panties but for me, torn vagina ranks up there in the fear category with episiotomy. BTW, don’t Google that image either. I gave birth to Tweety Bird. My one week over due 7lb 6oz baby’s head was just HUGE. I swear the OBGYN was having a quilting bee he was down there stitching for so long. That, however, was nothing compared to the birthing experience of a friend of mine who went three weeks past her due date and delivered a 12lb 3oz baby girl. Honestly, I think they just completely had to replace her vagina. Please don’t allow fantasies of the elusive mucus plug/water-breakage to sway you into waiting things out. They are entirely over-rated.

  25. Teres says:

    I’m really grossed out that someone wrote “head cheese” while I’m eating a bagel with cream cheese.

    If you go on people acutally have threads that say”OMG IS THIS MY MUCUS PLUG and then they attach a pic. I made the mistake of looking once.

  26. amy says:

    in a human sexuality class, my teacher described what the cervix would feel like if you touched it. she said it feels like poking the tip of a nose. ever since then, I’ve pictured a nose up in my hoo-ha. mucus plug just confirms that image for me!

  27. Gina says:


    ” Had I known her head she was this BIG I would’ve insisted upon a C Section”- Dr. Schlocker upon the birth of my 11+ pounder niece Marin Glory.

  28. (London) Amanda says:

    After reading all the comments, couldn’t resist Googling images as well (never saw either of my two plugs).
    Having seen the images – i think there’s been a spelling mistake – I think they meant to call it a Mucus Slug!

  29. Gina says:

    PS I grew up hearing my mom speak the unspeakable including mucous plugs which I found a comforting thought as I often feared the child would fall out of her and she would answer “don’t worry, there is a mucus plug” holding it in like a cork.” She referred to tampons as Lollipops when she needed one of us kids to fetch her one while in the bathroom.Nothing was sacred and we are all scarred.

  30. Gwen says:

    Last night my 13 year old son asked me, “wait, how exactly do you know when to umm..try” since we’ve been pretty open about the whole TTC thing. Without thinking I blurted out, “cervical mucus, it gets egg whitey”
    *awkward pause*
    “You know Mom, I’m sorry I asked and I don’t think I’ll ever eat eggs again”

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