Water Breaking
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Water Breaking During Pregnancy

You may be curious about your water breaking if you’re pregnant — when it happens, what it feels like and what to do next. Recognize the signs of breaking water and know what it means for your baby’s delivery timeline.

What happens when my water breaks?

During pregnancy, a fluid-filled membranous sac called the amniotic sac surrounds and cushions your baby. Typically, your membranes will rupture at the beginning of or during work— also known as your water rupture. When your water breaks before labor begins, it is called premature membranes (PROM).

You may experience a feeling of wetness in your vagina or perineum when your water breaks, an intermittent or constant leakage of small amounts of watery fluid from your vagina, or clearer or pale yellow fluid gush.

How can I be sure that my water broke?

It is not always easy to tell if your water has broken. For example, telling the difference between amniotic fluid and urine might be difficult. Especially if you only experience a feeling of humidity or a fluid trickle.

If you are unsure whether your water has broken, consult immediately with your health care provider or head to your delivery facility. You will be given a physical exam by your doctor or a member of your health care team to determine if you are leaking amniotic fluid. An ultrasound may be done in some cases to check your volume of amniotic fluid. To determine the next steps, you and your baby will be evaluated.

When will labor begin, after my water breaks?

Typically, labor will soon follow after your water breaks in time— if it hasn’t already started.

However, there is a delay sometimes. If you experience premature membrane rupture, your doctor may stimulate uterine contractions before labor starts alone (induction of labor). The longer it takes for labor to begin after your water breaks, the greater the risk of developing an infection for you or your baby.

What if my water breaks too soon?

It is also known as premature membrane rupture when your water stops before 37 weeks of pregnancy (PROM)). Excessively early risk factors for water breakage include:

  • A history of premature membrane rupture during pregnancy
  • Fetal membrane inflammation (intra-amniotic infection)
  • The second and third trimesters of vaginal bleeding
  • During pregnancy, smoking or using illegal drugs
  • Being underweight and nutritionally poor
  • Short length of the cervix

Maternal or fetal infections, placental abruption— if placental skins are removed from the inner wall of the cervix before delivery — and umbilical cord problems are potential complications. Due to premature birth, the baby is also at risk of complications.

If you have premature PROM and you are at least 34 weeks pregnant, delivery is generally recommended to avoid infection. If you are pregnant between 24 and 34 weeks, your health care provider will try to delay delivery until your baby is more developed. You will be given antibiotics to prevent infection and injection of potent steroids (corticosteroids) to speed your baby’s lung maturity.

Corticosteroids may also be recommended if you are at risk of delivery within 7 days from week 23 of pregnancy. Furthermore, corticosteroids may be recommended if you are at risk of delivery within 7 days between weeks 34 and 36.  And 6 of pregnancy and have not previously received them. You may be given a repeat course of corticosteroids if you are pregnant for less than 34 weeks, are at risk of delivery within 7 days and you have been given more than 14 days before a previous course of corticosteroids.

If you are pregnant for less than 24 weeks, your health care provider will explain the risks of having a premature baby.  And also the risks and benefits of attempting to delay labor.

What if my water doesn’t break on its own?

If your cervix is dilated and thinned during active labor and your baby’s head is deep in your pelvis, your health care provider may use a method known as an amniotomy to initiate labor contractures or make them stronger if they have already started. A slender plastic hook is used in the amniotic sac during the amniotomy to create a tiny opening and cause your water to break.

You may not be able to predict when the water breaking. But you can take comfort in your knowledge of the next steps. It’s natural to be concerned with labor and delivery.

Also Read: Reasons Of Cramping During Pregnancy