What is a Labour Show?

Antenatal Advice: As promised…What is ‘A Show’?

A show is something that, like labour, can sometimes cause a little confusion…so hopefully you find this blog useful.

Questions that we’ve been asked about ‘a show’ are:

  • What is it and what does it look like?
  • Do I need to go to hospital?
  • Does this mean I’m in labour?
  • What if I don’t have a show but am having regular contractions.. could I still be in labour?

What is a show and what does it look like?

Well… A show can be used to describe the latest musical, however when we talk about labour a show is as another name for your mucous plug. This plug sits in the neck of the womb or the cervix (these are actually the same structure-just different terminology), and it’s main function is to stop infection or bacteria from making its way into the womb during the pregnancy potentially causing or triggering an antenatal infection.

During your pregnancy your cervix is thick and firm and closed, ensuring it is strong enough to carry the weight of your baby (or indeed babies) and your cervix holds tightly onto the show during this time. When your body is preparing for labour you will produce a hormone called prostaglandin which will soften the cervix… thus relaxing it’s grip on your show and it is at this point that sometimes (but not always) your show might fall out.. this is why we sometimes see a show as early as a few days before labour begins. To describe what it looks like.. a pink or light brown mucousy jelly like vaginal discharge.. we can show you a picture in our antenatal class.

Do I need to go to hospital?

If you are more than 37 weeks pregnant and your baby has been moving around as normal, and you feel well.. then you DON’T need to go to hospital.

However, if you are premature (so less than 37 weeks) or if you are concerned about your baby’s movements then you DO need to go to hospital.

Does this mean I’m in labour?

Not always..so if your show is accompanied by regular contractions (see Am I in Labour? Blog post) then maybe you are in labour.

However if you are not yet having contractions or if they are very irregular it is a sign that labour might be on the way.. so stay at home and sit tight.

What if I don’t have a show but am having regular contractions… could I still be in labour?

Absolutely.. your show is just a sign that your cervix has softened and as a result your show has fallen out… sometimes we see a show before labour has kicked off.. and sometimes not until your cervix is 7cm or 8cm dilated.. so like everything else pregnancy.. everyone is different!!

Any further questions around this topic can be always be clarified by midwife at your antenatal clinic.