The Mucus Plug and Its Role in Labor – A Picture Guide to Childbirth

There are only few things in the world that causes as much contemplation as labor. The mucus plug, which fills the cervix, plays an important role in protecting the fetus against diseases and infection during pregnancy. It doesn’t completely block the passage to the inside of the uterus, but it does inhibit the entrance to bacteria.

There is no need to take any special actions once you lose your mucous plug and there is definitely no ban on having sex or taking baths, etc. However, if you have questions, consult your doctor or midwife. Also, you do not need to save your mucus plug to show anyone, feel free to discard it.

As you progress towards labor, ensure to take regular appointments to talk to your doctor or midwife about your pregnancy. This would not only prepare you for everything and also answer your questions. 1

Preparing Yourself For Labor And Delivery:



The ninth month is all about getting ready for childbirth. You are nearly there.


  • May experience low backache, Braxton Hicks Contractions and heartburn
  • Ensure to finish all your childbirth related classes which would keep you ready for labor and delivery
  • Be sure to attend all your pre-natal care appointments with your doctor or midwife and potentially see your doula


  • In the ninth month, the baby brain starts growing.
  • Brown fat are being deposited which will keep the baby warm even after birth
  • The baby’s lungs are also developing

Breaking Of Mucous Plug And Water:



If you are nearing your 40th week, (or just few days after 40th week) you need to watch out for signs of labor. These signs are good indicators that your baby is ready to be in the world.


  • You might lose your mucous plug all at once or just before your labor. Sometimes, the mucus plug stays intact even when labor is under way
  • Increased vaginal discharge may cause some discomfort
  • The labor immediately starts once you break your water-bag, however, this is not as common as you think


  • You might feel that your baby is lowering herself/himself down. Called the dropping or lightening, this also, might not happen until labor actually is under way.

Contractions During Childbirth



What is best known about labor is contractions. A contraction can be defined as the contraction and realising of uterine muscles, opening of cervix or the mouth of the universe.


  • The pain during contractions can be lessened by changing positions
  • Relaxation, visualization, vocalization and other comfort measures also help in decreasing the pain of contractions


  • The baby keeps moving during labor, however, there is typically lesser movement before labor.
  • Your doctor/midwife will monitor the fetus closely for its heart rate

Opening Of The Cervix To Give Birth



With the progress in labor, the contractions would also alter the cervix. It needs to dilate to 10 cms before the baby is born.


  • Each labor contraction would now come at regular intervals and it would get stronger, longer and closer
  • The cervix thins out (effaces) and opens up (dilates)


  • Since the baby is ready to be born, she/he moves down in your pelvis (station) to be born

Molding Of The Fetal Head



Labor contractions help in baby’s head mold. This is how the baby fits through the pelvis.


  • Movement helps in baby’s head to mold faster
  • Changing positions also helps in decreasing labor pain


  • The baby would keep moving down for normal delivery. The contractions help in molding the bones of the baby’s skull. Sometimes, this is what gives the babies a conical shaped head. However, this is generally slight and goes away without any treatment within few days or hours of birth.

Using Epidural Anesthesia During Labor



There are some women who choose epidural anesthesia, you need to take this decision prior to labor or during labor.


  • Will be given IV and IV fluids prior to epidural
  • Epidural catheter will be placed
  • Once the effects of epidural take place, a urinary catheter might also be used
  • You will be restricted to the bed. Few positions for labor can still be used.
  • If labor is slow, interventions like breaking the water bag (Pitocin) can be used to speed up the process


  • The doctor would be constantly monitoring the fetus during the epidural
  • Babies sometimes can experience changes in heart rate with the medication. Nursing staff keeps a constant watch for signs of fetal distress

Birth Of The Baby’s Head



The most intense part of the labor as the baby is about to be born. There is excitement, hardwork and labor to be done.


  • You may need to slow the pushing, especially if being coached
  • Might feel the ‘ring of fire,’ as the baby crowns
  • Usually feels a great release and decrease in pain as the baby is born


  • Final twists and turns to be born
  • Sometimes might call for suctioning of meconium, if present
  • Immediately comes to mother’s belly or breast after birth

Dispensing Of Placenta



Usually, everyone is caught up with the baby, so the placenta is monitored by the doctors, midwife or nurses.


  • The uterus keeps contracting
  • The placenta (mostly) detaches on its own from the uterus within 5 to 30 minutes
  • Holding the baby and nursing it, speeds up the process
  • Might be asked by the doctor to aid in its dispensing


  • Your little bundle of joy would be breathing and crying, developing a bond with mother and attempt to breastfeed

Bonding Of Mother And Baby



This is a special time. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that the baby starts nursing immediately after birth. You can either have your doula or nurse help you with the process. However, in this period, laying the baby close to you and letting skin touch is enough to get the baby seeking the breast and nursing without lot of resistance.


  • You might be little cold and warm blankets might help
  • Uterus would continue to contract. Nursing also helps in the process of involution
  • You will feel a rush of emotions, happy, tired, excited all at once.


  • Is quite alert and active after birth
  • Should be placed in close contact with mother
  • Would actively seek to nurse if unhindered by clothing, medication and age