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What is bloody show and why doulas love it!


Bloody show is a term that makes most people cringe.  It isn’t something that is commonly discussed at a cocktail party.  However, these two words are music to our ears!

Just what is bloody show anyway?

Just inside the cervix lies a mass of mucous.  The role of the mucous is to keep bacteria out of the uterus thereby keeping the fetus safe from infection.  The mucous stays inside the body as long as the cervix stays closed and hard.  As the cervix begins to thin and open the mucus can start to come out.  If the mucus comes out in a mass it is called the mucus plug.  If capillaries located around the cervix brake during this process the mucous can be tinged with blood.  Blood tinged mucus is called BLOODY SHOW.   Bloody show can vary from brown tinged (blood that is a bit older) to quite red. 

Bloody show

When it comes out and what it means

As the cervix opens and thins bloody show often appears and will also increase in quantity.  If the cervix opens quickly we can also see an increase in bloody show.  For these reasons, doulas love to hear their client’s report that they have bloody show.   Doulas don’t check cervical dilation, but if we hear that our client has had bloody show we have a good idea that the cervix is making some change.

Why I love bloody show

From my experience, when there is a significant amount of bloody show that usually means good cervical dilation is happening.  The opposite can also be true, if a woman has no show then her cervix might be slower to dilate.  Each woman is unique in the amount of bloody show that appears in labor.  I'll go ahead and admit to often asking my clients as they leave the restroom "any bloody show?" or "how'd it go in there, anything interesting?"  

{All women should contact their healthcare providers with any questions or concerns about bloody show or any other bleeding or discharge.}

What's your experience with bloody show?

Did you have bloody show in labor?  Are you a doula that loves bloody show just like me?  Please leave a comment and share your experiences!



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  • Alice Turner
Comments 11
  • Kerry

    I had no bloody show (that I know of) with my first child, a boy who I gave up for adoption at a young age. However, with my second (who’s now 2 years old) I had the bloody show a few days or a week at most before I had him. Both times I had to have a C-section because of not dilating “fast enough” part of me wonders what’s wrong with my body thatI can’t have a natural birth :-(

  • Susan

    It’s so interesting to read the comments. They show a lot of variety. I’m a newer doula (44 births so far). Early on I thought bloody show was something I could really count on to help clients guess how far along they might be. But then I had 2 clients fairly close together who threw me off. One had bloody show pretty early but a very long slow labor. The second had almost no bloody show but when we got to the hospital she was fully dilated, ready to push. So I decided I shouldn’t treat it like a clear indication of anything. Birth is such a beautiful mystery that keeps me humble! Thanks for posting the article and inviting comments Alice!

  • Traci

    In 19 years of being a doula, I don’t consider “show” or the mucus plug a tell tell sign of anything. It’s actually discouraged several moms when things didnt happen as textbook as expected. I always encourage that things “could be” happening but not definite.

  • Cha

    Both with my first birth (twins) and my second birth, I started losing small amounts of mucus about 2 weeks before due date (based on early ultrasound not mensis…. I’m not regular). Both times I never really noticed the blood and went into spontanious labor within a few days of my date ( after/ before). This time I’m 2 days from due date and have yet to notice a thing. Maybe I’ll be more typical this time, but I feel as though labor couldn’t possibly happen for weeks

  • Love

    Almost 19 years later, but I still remember being so excited when I seen my bloody show. This was my first pregnancy and everything thus far had seemed so textbook. I told my husband that labor would begin soon allowing me time to tune in to the birth I envisioned. She was born just a day and half later. I felt truly blessed to have had the bloody show to alert me labor was drawing near.

  • Austin

    When I had my daughter 4 1/2 years ago, I had pink spotting July 4. Then all day July 5 it got heavier and heavier. By the time I accepted that I was in labor at 4pm, I was going through pads quickly. She was born at 10pm.

    With my second, I had pink spotting when I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night and noticed my first contractions. It increased a little. He was born 12 hours later.

    With my third, I noticed pink spotting a few hours after contractions began and that was it for the spotting. No bloody show until I was pushing and it gushed a couple times.

  • Rachel

    With my own labor I kept waiting for the bloody show but never saw anything….

  • erickajen

    i didn’t have any with my son. They broke my water at like 5-6 cms I think. I had gone to 4 1/2 cms apparently without really knowing lol. Was in real labor for only 7 hours. I think it would have gone faster without the fricking monitors and being in the bed on my back and side. I wanted on all 4s but they didn’t really work with me on that.

    With my daughter, I had bloody show the day before my last appt. I was over 5 cms and hadn’t don’t much work just tightenings. She was less than 2 hours. I was bent over or on all 4s most of the time. Would have delivered that way too… But of course they don’t care what’s best for you. She almost didn’t make it and I should have just given birth before she got back.

    Lol. I’m so amazed how my body works. I should have like 15 kids as fast as they come!
    If there is a next time, I’m goin home birth. Lol

  • Emily

    I had a client who had no bloody show the entire time we were laboring. I was worried it meant she wasn’t dilating and had her doing all sorts of position changes. When we got to the hospital and she was 8 cm! She was just one of those women whose bodies didn’t fit the norm — she was dilating without the bloody show I was expecting as a sign. You learn something new every birth!

  • Alicia Lundquist
    Alicia Lundquist

    I don’t remember any with my first, but my second is 2 weeks old and I had pretty heavy, nonstop bloody mucus for a full week before she was born!

  • Lauren

    Yep, I had bloody show and started having steady early labor contractions within the hour!

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