Isn’t it funny how pregnancy makes us obsessed with our bodily fluids? During my pregnancy, I was told that it is normal for your healthcare provider to perform cervical checks during early pregnancy and over the last few weeks.
Most pregnant women experience spotting on their toilet paper after they have gone through a cervix check.
The good news is, bleeding after a cervical exam is a normal sign, and there is nothing to worry about. If you have had your cervix checked, the bleeding could last from a few hours up to 2 days. However, it is crucial to know that in normal circumstances, the bleeding should be a pinkish or brownish mucous discharge and not bright red.
Cervical Check During Pregnancy? What Should I Know?
A cervical exam during 36-38 weeks of pregnancy allows a doctor to evaluate dilation and perhaps the position of your little one, which can help him identify when labor begins. It is vital to know that a cervical exam comes with risks, including the risk of infection or of the membranes rupturing prematurely.
If your doctor insists on performing a cervical exam at every appointment, ask why and what the benefit is.
Cervical checks are performed due to numerous medical reasons including:
- To check for active labor
- To check if you have a bloody show
- To check for possible induction
- To check your labor progress
- To see if you’re ready to push
- When they have concerns about premature labor
Spotting After Cervix Check; Problem or Not?
If you undergo cervical checks past 37 weeks of pregnancy, it is typical to experience some spotting or mild bleeding. When your doctor performs the exam, he may look for dilation and thinning of your cervix. This might irritate your cervix and result in some bleeding. However, this bleeding is not necessarily a bloody show.
What Is a Bloody Show?
When a small amount of blood and mucus is discharged, this is known as a bloody show. This happens when your cervix starts to soften, efface, and dilate in preparation for labor.
When your cervix dilates, it allows your baby to pass through. Since your cervix is packed with small blood vessels, that explains the blood. The bloody show is the combination of blood from your cervix and mucus from the mucus plug.
Although it sounds scary, a bloody discharge is a completely normal indication that your cervix is opening so your baby’s head can pass easily.
What Does a Bloody Show Looks Like?
All pregnant women experience bloody shows differently.
The blood might be red, brown, or pink, and it may contain all or a portion of the mucus plug. Your blood will have a stringy, jelly-like feel.
Sometimes, the women who tend to lose their mucus plug completely experience bloody shows that include mucus and blood.
A bloody show may occur gradually in some circumstances. If your mucus plug has already been released, your blood discharge will appear as light spotting or bleeding.
Otherwise, a bloody discharge may look like blood-tinged thick mucus if blood is blended with the mucus plug.
What Causes the Bloody Show?
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that your cervix undergoes significant changes at the end of pregnancy.
This happens because your body prepares for birth. Your cervix begins to loosen and narrow in the final month before delivery. This is known as ripening, and it normally occurs without your knowledge.
Let’s make it easy to understand.
The cervix is a tissue of the uterus that is tight and hard throughout most of your pregnancy.
The cervix keeps the mucus plug in place to prevent germs from getting to your baby.
In the last weeks of pregnancy, the cervix becomes more malleable and shortens, or effaces, as it thins and ripens.
These developments finally allow the cervix to dilate or open.
Then the mucus plug is released as the cervix dilates and small capillary blood vessels break.
You may completely lose your mucous plug. It can also be lost in little amounts. You may not even notice when this is the case. The mucus plug can also contribute to increased discharge near the end of pregnancy.
This results in some bleeding, which is a totally common symptom if it occurs at term. This bleeding is typically mild and preceded by a discharge that we call a bloody show.
The bloody show can be caused by the following:
This happens when your doctor removes the amniotic sac from your uterus with a gloved finger. This is done to urge your body to start labor. Your cervix may dilate if a membrane sweep is effective. This might result in a bloody show. However, the blood might be related to cervical discomfort.
If you have been through a car accident or have a hard fall, it is possible that you can have bleeding or early labor. If you are pregnant and endure trauma, contact your doctor, or go to the hospital.
Your cervix thins and expands in late pregnancy. Having intercourse during this period may result in little bleeding or loosening of your mucus plug.
Signs and Symptoms of a Bloody Show
Although the primary sign of a bloody show is having discharge, yet along with the bloody show, some pregnant women tend to experience symptoms of inducing labor, such as:
Pressure in Your Pelvis
You may even feel some kind of pressure or a heavy feeling in your back, pelvis, or groin area.
The kind of cramps that you feel while on your period might come and go. These may stay for a few hours or even for a few days.
Along with the symptoms mentioned above, you’ll notice your contractions begin.
What is the Difference between a Mucus Plug and Bloody Show?
The mucus plug is a large clump of mucus that accumulates at the cervix. It serves as a barrier between your female genitalia and your uterus, which carries your baby.
Several days before or before labor starts, your cervix begins to open. The mucus plug is then released.
A bloody show and the mucus plug are closely related. During pregnancy, the mucus plug closes the cervix opening to protect the fetus from infections as mentioned before.
When your cervix gets dilated as your body expands itself and prepares for labor, the mucus plug dislodges. Finally, the bloody show occurs when blood from your cervix mixes with the mucus plug.
Is Bloody Show a Sign of Labor?
It is true that a bloody show gets you one step closer to meeting your child. If you’re nearing your due date and notice a bloody show and wonder if you’re going into labor, then congratulations!
A bloody show typically implies that labor is on its way. Some women have a bloody show weeks before labor, while others do not have one until labor starts.
It’s a healthy sign that your body is preparing, and your baby is approaching the end of development.
How Long Does Bloody Show Last Before I Go Into Labor?
The period between having a bloody show and going into labor varies among women. You can go into labor within a few hours of the bloody show, or you can bleed up to a week before.
First-time mothers have a higher likelihood to see a bloody show before labor begins, but this can occur a few days in advance.
Women who have previously given birth may not notice any bloody discharge until their cervix is dilating; they would expect to give birth within the next 24 hours.
When Is Bleeding Abnormal?
Less common but more significant causes of bleeding in late pregnancy include:
Placenta previa is a condition in which your placenta attaches to the lower section of your uterus rather than to the top.
This might indicate that your placenta is blocking your cervix. Bleeding might occur without notice at times.
Placental abruption or the premature separation, of the placenta from your uterus, is a more serious complication. The blood vessels that supply blood to your baby expand over your cervix. When you go into labor, these blood vessels may rupture and stop supplying blood to your baby.
This means that the uterus ruptures. This might be caused by surgery, infection, or a serious abdominal injury.
How Much Bleeding is Light Bleeding?
A tablespoon or two of discharge should be produced in the bloody show or the amount that could be dealt with using a pad or panty liner. Heavy bleeding during pregnancy at any moment might indicate a problem.
If you feel that you are bleeding heavily while pregnant, contact your healthcare provider and rush to the hospital immediately.