What's the Difference Between Mucus Plug and Bloody Show?

Reviewed on 10/7/2022

What Is a Mucus Plug and Bloody Show?

Cervical Mucus
Cervical mucus is fluid secreted and released by the cervix.

While a woman is pregnant, a mucus plug acts as a barrier and blocks the opening to the uterus (the cervix) to prevent bacteria from entering the uterus. The mucus plug is typically expelled before labor in a jelly-like glob so the baby is able to pass through the cervix during labor and birth. Some women may lose their mucus plug weeks before labor occurs. Some women may not even notice the loss of their mucus plug because of the increased vaginal discharge during pregnancy.

The bloody show sounds dramatic, but it’s a normal part of pregnancy that describes a discharge of both mucus and blood that occurs right before labor. It’s similar to, but not the same as, the mucus plug. 

Passing the mucus plug and the bloody show may also occur at the same time.

Mucus Plug and Bloody Show: What Are the Differences?

Passing the mucus plug is a one-time occurrence that indicates contractions (labor) will be occurring soon, though not necessarily right away. For some women, the mucus plug may be shed weeks before labor. 

A bloody show is a discharge that means labor is relatively imminent. Most women will experience labor within a day or two, though for some women, contractions will begin within hours of the bloody show. Sometimes the bloody show may occur along with active labor so some women will not notice it happen. 

What Do A Mucus Plug and Bloody Show Look Like?

A mucus plug is usually clear, but it can be white, yellow, green, brown, slightly pink, or blood-tinged in color. Most of the time it is off-white with some streaks of pink blood.

  • The plug is jelly-like but becomes more liquid as it is expelled. It can be stringy or sticky.
  • It’s about 1.5-2 inches (4-5 cm) long, which is about 1 ounce in volume.
  • The plug may be expelled gradually or all at once.  

Bloody show is a discharge of mucus that ranges in color from pink to brown, to bright red (the most common).

Reviewed on 10/7/2022