When the cervix dilates in preparation for labor, the cervical mucus plug is passed. When the plug loosens and washes out of the body, bloody show (blood-tinged cervical mucus and/or a small amount of blood) can result. This mucus plug is passed due to the dilation of the cervix which needs to occur in order for the baby to be passed through the cervix and into the world.
Causes of Bloody Show
Bloody show is often caused by the loosening or loss of the cervical plug. When the female body becomes pregnant, a mucus plug stops up the hole in the cervix. This plug is called the cervical plug and ensures the fetus is protected from external bacteria and that the heavier uterus does not push out through the hole in the cervix. When the body is ready to give birth, the plug will loosen and wash out of the body. There can be some bloody show associated with this action. The blood is not coming from the uterus but from the vessels holding the plug in place. These vessels rupture in order for the plug to pass. Bloody show is normal so do not worry.
Treatment for Bloody Show
After the onset of bloody discharge, keep a close eye on bleeding. If the amount seems to be more than two tablespoons, or the blood is bright red, immediately seek medical attention. Placental abruption or placenta previa can be associated with bright red blood.
The mucus plug forms soon after the fertilized egg implants in the uterus. The plug blocks the opening of the cervix until the gestational period is over. As the body prepares for labor, the mucus plug shrinks away and falls out of the cervical opening, making way for baby. The mucus plug has antimicrobrial properties, which means it protects against infections.
Many pregnant women have many questions about the cervical mucus plug and how to tell if it has been passed or is still in place.
When Should I See My Healthcare Professional?
Bloody show is often associated with labor and thus if it occurs, the pregnancy should be very near to the estimated due-date. Labor can take two to three days or more to start, so an immediate trip to the doctor is not often needed. If the bloody show occurs earlier in the pregnancy, contacting the attending obstetrician is a good idea.