What is bloody show?

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By Jamie Eske  
Reviewed by Valinda Riggins Nwadike
Why does it happen? | Bloody show vs. mucus
plug | What does it mean? | What to expect | Summary
Bloody
show is thick vaginal discharge that contains mucus and blood from the cervix.
It usually occurs in late pregnancy, as the body prepares for labor.
Vaginal
discharge is a common symptom throughout pregnancy. Fluctuations in a woman’s
hormone levels can cause changes in the consistency, amount, and appearance of
vaginal discharge.
Women
should monitor their vaginal discharge throughout their pregnancy. This is
especially important during the last few weeks before their due date. Not only
is bloody show a normal part of pregnancy, but it is also an early sign of
labor.
In
this article, we discuss why bloody show occurs, what it means, and what to
expect.
Why does it happen?

Pregnant
woman sitting on bed looking down at bump experiencing blood show.
Bloody
show is a common occurence in the lead-up to labor.
The
cervix undergoes significant changes during the third trimester of pregnancy.
As labor approaches, two main changes occur:

  • effacement,
    which occurs when the lining of the cervix becomes softer and thinner
  • dilation,
    which occurs when the opening to the cervix widens

The
cervix is full of blood vessels, which makes it prone to bleeding. When blood
from the cervix mixes with mucus, it leaves the body in the form of bloody
show.

Bloody
show is a sign that the blood vessels in the cervix are rupturing as it effaces
and dilates.
Bloody show vs. mucus plug

Bloody
show is not the only type of vaginal discharge to watch out for toward the end
of pregnancy. Many women also lose their mucus plugs during this time.
A
plug of mucus forms inside the cervix during the early stages of pregnancy.
Increased levels of progesterone in the body cause the cervix to soften and
produce thick mucus that eventually forms a plug.
The
mucus plug prevents harmful bacteria from entering the uterus as the fetus
develops, and it remains in place until the cervix starts dilating.
After
dislodging from the cervix, the mucus plug will leave the body as a thick,
gel-like discharge that is either clear or slightly pink.
Having
bloody show and losing the mucus plug are closely related events, but they are
not the same thing. The mucus plug is transparent and contains little or no
blood, while bloody show is a mixture of blood and mucus.
What does it mean?
Bloody
show is a normal occurrence during pregnancy. It means that the cervix has
started to prepare for labor.
Every
pregnancy is unique, so it is difficult to say exactly when a woman will enter
labor after bloody show occurs. However, some women may enter labor a few hours
or a few days after having bloody show.
What to expect
Bloody
show is a type of vaginal discharge that contains mucus tinged with either
bright red or dark brown blood.
It
occurs during the tail end of a pregnancy, just before a woman goes into the
labor. However, the length of time between having bloody show and entering
labor can vary significantly between women.
Bloody
show is not a medical emergency. Bleeding during pregnancy is a source of concern
for many women, but it does not always indicate pregnancy loss or a
complication.
Certain
types of bleeding, including bloody show, are perfectly normal during
pregnancy. Light spotting, or implantation bleeding, can occur during early
pregnancy, when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the womb.
Experiencing
inflammation or polyps on the cervix can also cause light bleeding.
Bleeding
heavily during the second and third trimesters may indicate a serious
complication involving the placenta, such as placenta previa or placental
abruption.
Women
who have bloody discharge long before their due date should seek immediate
medical attention.
Unlike
other types of bleeding, bloody show has a thick, gelatinous, and sometimes
stringy texture. It can also appear translucent with very little blood. At
other times, bloody show may be pink or streaked with blood.
Women
who have bloody show should closely monitor themselves for other symptoms of
labor.
Other
signs of labor include:

  • persistent
    lower back pain
  • persistent
    cramping
  • lightening,
    which refers to the lowering of the fetus into the pelvis
  • contractions
    that gradually increase in intensity and duration
  • rupture
    of membranes, which occurs when the water breaks
Summary
Bloody
show is a natural part of pregnancy. It is a sign that the cervix is dilating
and preparing for labor.
Women
who experience bloody show should monitor themselves for other symptoms of
labor, such as cramping, contractions, or their water breaking. However, every
pregnancy is different, so it is difficult to say exactly when labor will occur
after bloody show happens.
Women
who notice vaginal bleeding long before their due date should contact their
healthcare provider. Bleeding during pregnancy is not always a cause for concern,
but it is still best to consult a professional regarding any worrisome
symptoms.
SOURCE: MEDICAL NEWS TODAY
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.