Expert Advice

The Difference Between the Mucus Plug & Bloody Show

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What’s one of the least sexy topics to wonder about during pregnancy? Your mucus plug! What’s one of the most FAQs amongst moms with babies still waiting in the womb? The bloody show! We’re here to answer the burning question – what’s the difference between the mucus plug and the bloody show?

You can find tons of info about your wonderful mucus plug and how its awesome anti-bacterial powers prevent vaginal bacteria from reaching into your sterile womb. We’ve written about it here, here, and here. And FYI, the mucus plug is often called the cervical plug.

Please remember that although your mucus plug may come out, your baby is still safe inside.


Your mucus plug can come out in early pregnancy, and might have a little bloody show, but that’s rarely considered a problem unless there are other factors. More often, it comes out in late pregnancy. Because its purpose is to fill the cervical cavity, when shifting hormone levels change your cervix’s shape and size, the mucus plug no longer fits and it slides out.

It’s often a sign baby is getting ready to be born. So it’s a really good idea to finalize birth preferences, your most recent birth plan, your hospital bag checklist, and all those birth arrangements.

For women who have given birth and women who are giving birth for the first time, there can be very different time frames around when labor truly begins. If you’re a mom who has already given birth, you may not have as much time to finalize your birth plans.

If you lose your mucus plug, and if you notice it, you may see a range of things. It could be all sorts of colors, from white to yellow to greenish to red. It could come out all at once, or in pieces over time. And it could be, but not always is, accompanied by the bloody show.


It’s cervical blood that often comes with release of your mucus plug and mixes with mucus. Sometimes, there’s just a streak of blood, and sometimes there’s significantly more. Although there may be drops of bright red blood, the bloody show should be mostly brown or dark red. This indicates the blood isn’t fresh—that you’re not bleeding internally.

If you have significant bloody show, keep an eye on your bleeding. You shouldn’t continue to bleed, nor should you have mostly bright red, new blood. If you bleed after your mucus plug and the bloody show are out, there shouldn’t be more than 1 ounce of blood loss (1-2 tablespoons).

Any significant amount of bright red blood needs to be reported to your midwife or doctor. And if you’re concerned about what you see – even if it’s normal brown or dark red – you can put your mind at ease by talking to your care provider, whether the bloody show was a lot or a little.

By planning your birth and completing your birth plan well ahead of time, you’ll have less stress when your bloody show happens. With your hospital bag packed a couple of weeks ahead of your due date, losing your mucus plug can be a thrilling signal that baby will soon be with you!


To learn more about changes during pregnancy, download our free Birth Plan eBook now. After three years of research, collaboration with more than 100 childbirth experts and resource centers from Healthy Child Healthy World to the American Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Best Ever Baby Birth Plan Guide is available for a free download.

This new resource for pregnant families is a compilation of top tips and advice from more than 20 nationally-recognized experts in the field including renowned pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene and GraceFull Birthing founder, midwife Elizabeth Bachner.  These trusted experts offer thoughtful guidance for whatever type of birthing experience parents want, in whichever setting they choose.

Published: December 6, 2015 | By SP Turgon, Certified Labor Doula | Reviewed by: Kim Walls, Natural Products Expert, Elizabeth Bachner, LM, CPM, L.Ac., Midwife | Last reviewed: December, 2015

Kim WallsThe Difference Between the Mucus Plug & Bloody Show

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