You may have heard some dramatic going-into-labor stories, but the reality is that you might not even realize it’s happening at first. This might actually sound scarier than the dramatic stories, but don’t stress—here’s everything you need to know about your water breaking and what to do next!
What’s Really Happening When Your Water Breaks
During pregnancy, amniotic fluid surrounds your baby in the amniotic sac. This cushions your baby and protects them from infection. It helps their lungs and digestive system develop and keeps their temperature steady. During the second half of your pregnancy, your baby’s urine will make up most of the fluid, along with nutrients, hormones, and antibodies.
At many possible points along the labor track, the membranes of the amniotic sac will rupture, and this is what we call your “water breaking.” While each water breaking experience is unique, here’s what to look out for.
Signs of your water breaking include:
- Feeling a slow leak of water
- Feeling a sudden gush of water
- Feeling a slight pop
- Fluid coming out in bursts as you change positions
The way the fluid comes out can vary greatly. Sometimes, your baby’s head can block your cervix like a cork, causing the fluid to only come out when you or the baby moves. More fluid may come out when you start having contractions, and you may continue to leak some fluid up until your baby is delivered.
After your water has broken, avoid using tampons or taking baths—now that you’ve passed the amniotic fluid, your baby is more susceptible to infections. Be sure to place a towel down wherever you may be sitting at home or in the car to avoid getting amniotic fluid on everything. The color of the fluid is usually clear or a pale yellow, but it won’t have any smell.
What to Expect Next
It can often be difficult to tell when your water has broken, especially since some women only experience a weak trickle or even less fluid than that. If you’re in any doubt, give your healthcare provider a call—they can always check you via an ultrasound or a physical exam.
If you do suspect that your water has broken, try to remember to take note of the time. You should also start timing how far apart your contractions are if you start having them. You could very well already be in labor, but for some women labor doesn’t start for a while after their water has broken. Be sure to listen to your body and stay calm. The length of labor and childbirth varies from mother to mother—and depends on a lot of different factors—but after your water breaks, you know you’ll meet your baby soon!
PROM and PPROM
Premature rupture of the membranes, or PROM, occurs in 8-10 percent of women, and simply means that your water has broken but you aren’t in labor yet. Preterm premature rupture of the membranes (PPROM), however, can pose problems. If your water breaks anytime before you’ve reached 37 weeks of pregnancy, call your doctor right away.
If you’ve had a PPROM in a previous pregnancy, are having inflammation of the fetal membranes, have had vaginal bleeding during your second and third trimesters, smoked during pregnancy, are underweight with poor nutrition, or have a short cervix, you could be at risk for PPROM.
For more maternity advice and expert care, contact Regional Medical Center today.