I am asking a question regarding my friend's recent delivery both for my and her knowledge. She had her baby at home--not her first child or first homebirth. The cord was very short and the midwife said that she thought the placenta might have been tearing loose during labor, so it was good my friend's contractions never got strong (she had to really work to push this one out) or it could have completely torn loose and baby would have been in trouble. The baby was born really grey looking--my friend describes photos of her husband dressing the baby as looking like he was dressing a dead baby. Baby went into several stopped-breathing fits during the first 24 hours. When the midwife consulted with a Dr. (baby was never seen by Dr.), they decided it was a mucous plug. Baby finally cleared it and pinked up about 24 hours after birth. Midwife seems unconcerned that anything was wrong and said as long as baby didn't lose oxygen for more than 10 minutes, everything will be fine. So far, at one month, baby seems fine. My friend is bothered by this since none of the other babies had breathing problems.
My questions are: What is this mucous plug they are talking about?
Is there possibly anything more that should have been done for the baby? Suctioning? Transport to hospital?
What would have been done differently in a hospital, and would it have been beneficial, debatably beneficial, or harmful?
Was this a potentially serious problem, or was the midwife's unconcerned attitude ok? It just doesn't seem right to me for a baby to be grey (not getting enough oxygen) for its first 24 hours.