During pregnancy, your cervix secretes mucus which forms a thick mucus plug. This plug forms on the cervix and it’s purpose is to prevent any bacteria getting into the uterus. It’s like an added layer of protection for your baby.
The mucus plug (medical term is operculum, i.e. plug in opening) is usually is cloudy or clear in colour, thick and sticky. Some women describe it looking like a glob of semen or ‘snot’ or a mix of both! When your cervix begins to thin and dilate towards the end of your pregnancy, there may be some slight blood loss due to small capillaries breaking from the movement. The blood then gets caught up in the mucus, and this is why it’s also called ‘a bloody show’ as the mucus becomes blood stained.
During the last couple of weeks of pregnancy, or up until labour itself, the plug will start to come away. Some women do not even notice their plug coming away, as there is already an increase in normal cervical mucus due to hormones.
The mucus plug often comes away like a continuous stringy discharge – sometimes it can actually resemble a plug. On the other hand, some women do not see their mucus plug until well into labour.
According to a member poll in the BellyBelly forums, 34% of women reported that they lost their show around 2 days prior to labour starting. A further 30% lost the show during labour and 17.65% who never saw their show at all. The remaining percent lost their show 1-2 weeks before labour started.
So if your show makes an appearance, you can be assured things will be on their way very soon, but be careful not to get too excited and tell everyone – you just might find the super frequent phone calls and unexpected visits a little overwhelming!
Some Mucus Plug Facts From Midwife, Brenda Manning
Having your show, or mucus plug:
- Doesn’t mean labour is imminent
- Is common after the caregiver has done a vaginal exam, especially if s/he has done a strip and stretch (or stretch and sweep)
- Is common post love-making
- Can be brown – it’s just old blood
- Is a positive, encouraging sign that the birth is near during advanced labour because ‘a good heavy show’ usually means that the cervix is fully dilated.
The only time we’re interested in the show is when it’s confused with bleeding and women phone us (quite rightly) very concerned that they’ve had a bleed. But on questioning, it’s just blood-stained mucus, which is common after love-making.
If in doubt, save it, bring it in on a pad and show your caregiver. S/he won’t mind, as they see, smell and feel all sorts of stuff and are completely unaffected by it – truly!!!
Midwives do tend to get excited if a woman arrives in labour with a good heavy show because it means that things are happening. They can reassure you of that without having to do a vaginal exam.
Remember that you should always report any vaginal discharge or bleeding in pregnancy to your midwife or doctor for evaluation.