Bloody Show in Pregnancy

A pregnant woman

Most women, especially first-timers, are likely to get concerned about seeing a bloody show during pregnancy. They may wonder if it is a pregnancy symptom, a sign of labour, or something gone wrong with their pregnancy. A bloody show towards the conclusion of pregnancy is a normal thing to happen. It is indicative of the fact that your body is preparing to go into labour.

What is Bloody Show?

The bloody show occurs when your cervix (the neck-like narrow passage constituting uterus’s lower part) undergoes some important changes and initiates your body into labour. The cervix may start expanding to let the baby pass through it. The cervix essentially has a lot of blood and thus may bleed easily.

So when the cervix begins to dilate some of the blood vessels may burst as the cervix softens. Blood vessels usually rupture immediately after the release of the mucus plug. Eventually, you may notice a bloody show which is simply the blood from the cervix mixed with the mucus passing out of the vagina.

What Are its Causes?

Soon after the fertilized egg gets embedded into the uterus, a mucus plug is formed in the cervix which blocks the cervix’s opening. The mucus has antimicrobial properties which protect the growing baby from possible infections. When the body goes into labour, the cervix opens loosening the mucus plug. The mucus plug in due course flows out of the vagina along with some blood. This accompanying blood is from the blood vessels of the cervix which held the plug in place and gets ruptured when the mucus plug is released causing a bloody show.

What Are the Signs of Bloody Show during Pregnancy?

Some of the likely signs of the bloody show during pregnancy can be:

1. Cramps

Cramps are one of the common signs of the bloody show. However, you may get cramps one day before you experience the bloody show.

2. Mild Contractions

Contractions usually indicate the start of labour. But bloody show and contractions may also be related. Some pregnant women can feel contractions during the dilation of the cervix which may be a sign that a bloody show is likely to follow.

3. Reddish Mucus

The most crucial sign of the bloody show is seeing the mucus coming out of the vagina tinted with blood. You may spot a sticky, thick discharge which may be either dark brown or bright red.

How is Bloody Show Different from Mucus Plug?

A bloody show is not much different from mucus plug. They are closely linked although they may be two different occurrences. Both bloody show and the mucus plug are signs of early labour.

As the body readies itself for labour, it releases hormones which stimulate the cervix to dilate. The ripening of the cervix causes the mucus plug which seals the entrance of the uterus to prevent external infections to enter the womb to dislodge from the cervix and slip out of the vagina. The mucus plug is jelly-like and is usually streaked with blood. The appearance of the blood-tinged mucus which can be slightly pink, bright red or darkish brown is called the bloody show.

Is Any Kind of Bleeding a Sign of Bloody Show?

Bleeding of any kind may not be a sign of bloody show. In case of an internal examination by a doctor, some bleeding may take place afterwards because the cervix tends to bleed easily. You may also experience little bleeding after sexual intercourse.

Is Bloody Show a Sign of Labour Impending?

A bloody show is a sign of approaching labour. The release of mucus plug which is often followed by a bloody show is the early signs of impending labour. But different women can have different experiences. Some pregnant women may experience a bloody show quite a few days before labour starts while some women don’t get a bloody show up until they are truly in labour. In some cases, pregnant women may not even get a bloody show and can move right into active labour. Women who are first-time moms have greater chances of experiencing a bloody show before labour begins than women who have had kids in the past.

A pregnant woman in labour

How Long After Bloody Show Does Labour Start?

The experience of every woman can vary as there is no definitive sequence of events or a set time frame to experience a bloody show and for labour to begin. The bloody show can happen within few minutes or several days earlier than labour starts. Some pregnant women may already be in active labour when a bloody show occurs. All in all, you may have enough reaction time when you have a bloody show so that you don’t have to rush to the hospital immediately.

How Long Does Bloody Show Last?

The bloody show usually doesn’t last very long. But it may vary from person to person. Some women may experience the bloody show in bits lasting a couple of days while some may get it all out in one go. Also, some pregnant women may not even notice or experience any bloody show and can go straight into active labour.

Is it Safe to Have Sex if You Have Had Bloody Show?

If you have had bloody show, odds are you may not be in the mood to have sexual intercourse. In case you still feel like indulging in sex, it is wise to consult a doctor first. The doctor may like to check whether your cervix has dilated or not. In case your cervix has dilated, the doctor may advise you against having sex because sexual intercourse can rupture your water bag or increase the chances of an infection.

When to Consult a Doctor?

You may like to consult a doctor in the following instances:

  • If you experience heavy bleeding.
  • If you spot any bleeding before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
  • If the vaginal discharge suddenly turns bright red.
  • You experience severe cramps or tummy aches.
  • You feel that the water bag has ruptured.
  • Bloody show but no contractions till 48 hours.


Some of the commonly asked questions related to bloody show may include:

What Should I Do if I Experience Bloody Show?

In case you experience bloody show monitor the bleeding, the colour of the discharge and the rate and duration of contractions if any will establish if you are going into labour. If you are still in the first or second trimester of your pregnancy and you notice a bright red discharge, contact your doctor immediately as it may imply some serious issue. If you are 39 weeks pregnant, with the bloody show but still no contractions, try not to get too worked up. It won’t be long before the contractions start!

A bloody show in pregnancy may be a sign that things are moving in the right direction. Even after the bloody show, there may be sometime before the baby gets delivered. So, try to remain calm and lets things progress naturally.

Also Read: Vomiting Blood during Pregnancy