Bloody show

■ 3rd trimester

This dramatic and alarming term refers to the passage of the thick mucus that plugs the cervix during pregnancy. The mucous plug blocks the cervical opening to prevent bacteria and other germs from entering the uterus. As your body prepares for labor, the cervix begins to thin out and relax, and the mucous barrier is dislodged.

You may have a vaginal discharge that's clear, pink or blood-tinged. It may come out as a thick or stringy mass or as a constant or intermittent discharge. Some women don't notice anything at all.

The bloody show or mucous discharge is a sign that the big day is coming, but you probably don't need to rush to pack your bags. The process can start just before labor or up to a week or two before labor.

■ When to seek medical help for bloody show

There's no need to report passage of the mucous plug to your health care provider unless your discharge is watery, foul smelling or suddenly becomes bright red, especially if it amounts to more than about two tablespoons. Actual bleeding could indicate premature separation of the placenta or placenta previa. These conditions require prompt medical attention.

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