Everything you want to know about water break!
“How will I know when my water has broken?” this is a very common question i get.
Usually after that comes: “What should I do?” do if my waters break?” Based on how often this comes up in the classroom, I thought it would be a good topic to explore!
Most people’s idea of a person’s water breaking usually comes from TV shows or movies where the water breaks and all hell breaks loose.
Let’s start with the fact that only about 10% of people will experience PROM – premature rupture of membranes – meaning the waters break before labor begins. The other 90% will either experience the membranes rupture during delivery or have them artificially ruptured by a doctor during delivery. In rare cases, babies can even be born with a crust, when the amniotic sac remains intact after the baby is born.
How do you know if the water has broken?
Some people will experience vaginal discharge, others will experience more of a trickle. It all depends on where the baby’s head is in relation to the cervix. Think of the baby’s head as a wine cork: if the head is low, it will block the outflow of fluid, allowing more force to flow out. If the head is high, there will probably be more gush. In addition, a trickle of fluid can be the result of a large leakage of the amniotic sac.
How do I know it’s my water that broke and not something else?
Most people experience a fair amount of vaginal discharge, especially toward the end of pregnancy. A few ways to tell the difference between amniotic fluid, vaginal discharge, and urine: Once your water breaks, the leakage will continue. Also, amniotic fluid is a yellowish, clear, odorless liquid. Sometimes there are white spots or a slight blood tinge.
If the child defecated for the first time, the liquid will be greenish-black in color. This is called meconium and can be a sign of fetal distress. If you see this greenish-black liquid, you should tell your doctor right away.
If you’re still not sure if your water has broken, your doctor can do a quick, non-invasive test. Your doctor will take fluid using a nitrazine-based test to quickly and easily detect premature rupture of membranes (PROM) during pregnancy.
Did you know that your amniotic sac is made up of two layers?
The amnion, the internal sac, also called the posterior sac, is the sac that directly contains the baby. The chorion is the outer shell or anterior sac. These two bags come into contact with each other and become fused by the end of pregnancy. It is through these two layers of the amniotic sac that a leak or rupture of the anterior sac is possible, which can repair itself and not be considered a “rupture of the membrane.”
Some people notice that after a while they stop leaking amniotic fluid. This is not because there is no more liquid; your body is constantly producing amniotic fluid when you are pregnant. Again, your doctor can check to see if there is still amniotic fluid. If the anterior sac has re-sealed, your provider will likely be in no rush to induce or monitor labor to begin soon.
If you want to read more about hospital intervention after your water breaks, check out this article: My water broke, now what… and other things to think about
What happens when my water breaks?
If your membranes do break, again, just check the color for meconium and then notify your provider. If you don’t feel contractions yet, they will most likely start within 12-24 hours after the membranes break.
In addition, each service provider has its own protocol for dealing with shell bursting. Usually, unless there are special circumstances, the doctor will wait 12-24 hours to see if the contractions have started naturally before he intervenes. In fact, it’s best to ask ahead of time how your provider handles PROMs so you’re not surprised or disappointed by what’s on offer.
It is also important to know if a fever starts, which is a sign of infection. Although sex is a great way to induce labor, it is NOT recommended to have sex after the water breaks. Keep everything away from the vagina and minimize vaginal examinations. Every time a foreign object is inserted into the vagina, the risk of infection increases.
Be prepared for dropsy at home!
Just a few suggestions for the weeks before giving birth. Have at hand:
- Maxi pads
- Waterproof mattress cover
- Wee Wee Pads (from your local pet store)
Remember, once your water breaks, you will continue to leak. A little trick I’ve learned over the years is to sleep with a waterproof mattress pad. No one wants to have a ruined mattress covered in amniotic fluid! Or buy Wee Wee pads at your local pet store. It also absorbs fluid if your water breaks while you sleep, and will also come in handy if you’ve been in labor for a while sitting on a ball, chair or couch.
It is also important to continue to stay hydrated. Maybe have some coconut water or your favorite juice on hand (dilute it a bit).
Hope this helps clear up any questions you may have about water breaking!
And if you’d like to attend any of the classes the Prenatal Yoga Center offers, click below to view the schedule and book a class!
frequently asked questions
What are the signs that your water is about to break?
There are no particular signs that your water will break. In most cases, this happens unexpectedly. It is important to remember that only 10% of people’s water breaks before labor begins.
Can the baby move after the water breaks?
Your baby will continue to move when your water breaks. However, without this extra fluid and cushioning, buoyancy is reduced. This will result in the baby not being able to reposition if the baby is positioned incorrectly (in a less than ideal position for birth). Think of a water balloon with a golf ball inside. With less water, it would be harder to move the golf ball.
What do you feel when the water breaks?
You may feel either a light trickle or a stream of water. How much water you lose depends on the position of the baby. If you experience a stream of water, it may feel like you’re urinating uncontrollably, and some mistake the water breaking for urine.
Drainage is absolutely painless. The only pain you may feel during your water break is contractions, if you’ve already started them.