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Mucus plug – what is it and what does it look like?

The mucus plug protects your baby in pregnancy. Find out more about its purpose, about having ‘a show’, and what a mucus plug looks like.

During pregnancy, your cervix is ‘sealed’ by a plug of mucus, which normally stays in place until the start, or close to the start, of labour. This ‘plug’ acts as an additional barrier, protecting your baby from bacteria.

It loosens and comes away fully any time near the end of your pregnancy, from between about two weeks to a few hours before you begin contractions (although some women may never notice it at all).

What is 'a show' in pregnancy?

The plug coming away is known as ‘having a show’. You might be asked ‘have you had a show?’ if the midwife is assessing you in early labour.

What does the mucus plug look like?

You’ll see it as a jelly-like substance, which might be clear or slightly pink or streaked with a small amount of blood. When you are losing the mucus plug, You’ll notice it on your underwear or on toilet paper after going to the loo. It could be in one single piece, like a blob of gel. Or it could be in smaller pieces which come away over several hours or more.

You don’t normally need to tell your midwife about it. However, if it’s accompanied by more blood loss, or if the plug itself is very bloody, then give the midwife or antenatal ward a call to ask for advice.

Further information

NCT’s helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas of pregnancy,birth and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700. We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area and see what NCT activities are happening nearby.