What is a Mucus Plug?

The mucus plug is a thick column of cervical mucus which sits in the cervical canal during pregnancy, essentially forming a blockage. The mucus plug stops bacteria from getting into your uterus, and helps to keep your uterus sterile during pregnancy. Before the birth, you will lose your mucus plug, allowing the baby to pass through the cervix during labour.

Your mucus plug is made of a sticky, clear mucus, like nasal mucus, but often thicker. Towards the end of the pregnancy, you may start to lose some of your mucus plug. Some women lose the entire plug in one go, but others report the process taking up to a few days. The mucus plug is odourless but may not be the most attractive sight to behold.

What is a bloody show?

A bloody show is simply another name for a mucus plug. You may find that the mucus appears pink or brown tinged with blood, and this is why it is commonly known as a bloody show. There is nothing to worry about if your mucus plug is tinged with blood, in fact it is quite normal. It’s also normal to have a clear plug, you may also have heard it called a ‘show’.

Passing your plug

Passing your mucus plug is not always a clear indication that labour is imminent. In fact, if you pass your mucus plug over 24 hours before labour starts, your body will create a new mucus plug to take its place. Some women lose their mucus plug weeks before labour begins, however, it does mean that your cervix is starting to prepare for the birth.

Though it doesn’t mean the onset of labour will happen any minute, it does mean you should start preparing for labour. Is your hospital bag packed? Have you finished the nursery? Now is the time to finish off any loose ends around the house, and get ready to welcome your baby within the next few weeks.

You may notice you have passed a small amount of mucus after a vaginal exam or after having sex, this is usually nothing to worry about.

When to tell your healthcare provider

You can mention the plug to your healthcare provider at your next appointment, but there’s usually no need to contact them specially for this reason. However, you should contact your healthcare provider if:

  • you notice blood-tinged mucus before your 37th week of pregnancy
  • the mucus plug is bright red
  • you pass more than two tablespoons of mucus

Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice.  All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.

Signs of Labour: What to Look For

If you’re anxiously waiting for the birth of your first child, you’re probably wondering what signs of labour to look out for. As your due date approaches, you may be over analysing every twinge to discover whether labour is imminent. Don’t forget, only five percent of babies are born on their due date, so you may have a little longer left to wait.

The following signs of labour may help you to identify when labour has begun:

The show

Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those ‘give birth on national television’ scenarios, it’s simply the name given to losing your mucus plug. The mucus plug has been sitting at the entrance to your uterus since the pregnancy began, keeping your uterus sterile for the baby. As your cervix begins to soften and dilate, the mucus plug can become dislodged. You may notice a heavy vaginal discharge, this could be tinged brown or red. Alternatively, you may be completely unaware that you have lost your mucus plug.

Waters breaking

Only around 10 percent of women notice their waters breaking before the onset of labour. For most, labour is well underway before their waters break. The water is actually amniotic fluid released when the amniotic sac ruptures. If your waters do break first, this is a good indicator that labour will start within 24 hours.

The amniotic fluid should be clear. If it is tinged yellow, green or brown, it has your baby’s first bowel movement, meconium, in it. This could indicate that your baby is in distress, or could cause respiratory problems for baby after birth. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if there is meconium present in the amniotic fluid.

Bathroom breaks

As the baby prepares for the journey down the birth canal, you may feel pressure on your bowel or bladder which can result in a desperate need to visit the bathroom. This is normal, and is your body’s way of clearing your digestive system and ensuring baby has as much space as possible. Some women experience diarrhea during early labour, this is caused by labour hormones, and is another way of ensuring the baby’s route is free for the birth.


The best way to find out whether labour has started, is to keep track of your contractions. If your contractions vary in length, are irregular and felt in the lower abdomen, it is probably false labour. While the name is disheartening, these contractions are actually very important. False labour contractions are thought to stretch the lower uterus in preparation for birth, and begin the process of dilating the cervix. Your cervix will be 4cm dilated before you are considered to be in labour, so there is a lot of preparation work to be done.

The contractions of real labour occur at regular intervals, and will grow stronger, longer and more frequent over time. They are more intense than false labour contractions, and are usually felt in the lower back. Ask your birth partner to keep track of your contraction times so that you can determine when labour has started. When the contractions last at least 45 seconds, and occur every 5 minutes, it’s time to head to hospital – it’s almost time to meet your baby.

Do you enjoy this App? Good news! You can now also download our new Baby App for iPhone / iPad or Android. Click Baby+ iOS or Baby+ Android to install the App, and prepare for the arrival of your little one(s).

Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.