While you are pregnant, there will be a mucus plug that blocks your cervical opening. This plug stops bacteria so they cannot enter the uterus. Before you go into labor, your body will expel this mucus plug so that the baby can pass through your cervix during the process of labor and birth. Some people hear the words “bloody show” and get concerned that it is gory, dramatic, or dangerous. In reality, it does not indicate any danger and some women won’t even experience it. Continue reading to learn more about bloody show and what to do if you experience it.

What Does “Bloody Show” Mean?

The term “bloody show” refers to the process of releasing a mucus plug tinged with blood from the cervix, generally as a sign that you are ready to go into labor. This mucus plug was present throughout your pregnancy and helped block the opening leading to the cervical canal so bacteria could not enter. The phrase “bloody show” comes from the fact that the mucus plug sometimes contains a bit of blood making it brown, pink, or red in color. This blood is due to the tiny blood vessels that rupture when your cervix starts dilating and thinning.

Some women will experience the mucus plug gradually coming out during the course of a few days so they do not necessarily know what is occurring. Other women will notice the mucus plug but without blood. You should never be alarmed and this is true whether or not you notice a bloody show. This is just one of the indications that your body is getting ready for labor.

How Soon Will Labor Start After The Mucus Plug Passes?

The mucus plug passing is simply one sign that your cervix has started dilating and your body is starting to get ready for birth. The amount of time until labor varies greatly so it could be anywhere from hours to days to weeks away because the cervix will continue to open gradually.

Watch the following to learn more about passing of mucus plug/ the bloody show:

What to Do If You See a Bloody Show

Noticing a bloody show does not necessarily mean that you should go to the hospital right away. This is simply a sign that your body is getting ready for labor and you may not deliver for anywhere ranging from hours to weeks. There are certain situations in which you should call your doctor and these include if:

  • The mucus plug releases 36 weeks or less into your pregnancy
  • There is over a tablespoon of blood or bright red bleeding
  • It is accompanied by painful cramps
  • There are regular and strong contractions which come every 4 or 5 minutes
  • You are experiencing any other painful or unusual symptoms in addition to the bloody show

You should be especially careful in case of excessive bleeding as this can indicate placental abruption or placenta previa, both of which will require medical attention immediately.

In any other case when you pass your mucus plug, simply relax but be sure to pay attention to contractions and/or symptoms carefully.

More Signs that Your Labor Is Near

1. Your Baby "Drops"

When your baby “drops” you will notice a feeling of “lightening” several weeks before you start labor. It can lead to a heavy feeling in the pelvis and reduced pressure in the ribcage. It therefore makes it easier to breathe.

2. You Experience More Braxton Hicks Contractions

Braxton Hicks contractions may become more intense and frequent, indicating pre-labor. At this point your cervix will ripen to get ready for true labor and you may experience a crampy feeling similar to during your menstrual cycle. In some cases Braxton Hicks contractions will increase in pain when true labor gets closer. They may even occur every 10 to 20 minutes. Remember that unless your contractions increase in duration and strength while the time between them decreases, it is probably only false labor.

3. Your Cervix Starts to Change

A few days and weeks before you deliver the connective tissue in your cervix will start to soften. Braxton Hicks contractions can also open and thin your cervix slightly. Remember that if it is not your first child, you may dilate one or two centimeters before starting labor, but if this is your first child, a centimeter of dilation doesn’t indicate immediate labor. As you approach your due date, your doctor may conduct a vaginal exam to check for changes in the cervix.

4. Your Water Breaks

This is when the amniotic sac filled with fluid (which surrounds your baby) ruptures, causing fluid to leak out of your vagina. You should always contact your doctor when this occurs as although most women will have contractions before their water breaks, the opposite is possible as well. Your doctor may induce contractions if necessary as the lack of amniotic sac increases your baby’s chances of infection.

5. Your Baby Moves Less

Experts aren’t sure why, but many women notice their baby is less active a day or so before they go into labor. You should always contact your doctor if this occurs as it may also be a sign of complications.

6. Diarrhea

Some women will experience the need to empty their bowels before labor. If you experience this and notice your stools are loose, it may indicate labor.

7. Nesting

Some women have a strong “nesting” instinct immediately before they go into labor. If you suddenly feel a strong need to finish the baby’s nursery or vacuum in the middle of the night, labor may be approaching.

Signs of True Labor

In many cases you can’t tell when true labor starts because some of the early contractions will be similar in nature to the previous Braxton Hicks contractions. A good indication that true labor is starting is that the contractions become closer together, stronger, and longer. In the beginning they may be ten minutes apart but they won’t stop. After a bit, they will get closer together and become more painful. Every women experiences pregnancy differently so it is possible for regular, strong contractions to begin with very little warning.

In the following video, you can learn more things about signs of labor and delivery: