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Water breaking is one of the earliest signs of labor which occur generally at the starting point of labor or during the labor and in certain cases even before the labor starts. The membranes of the sac in which your baby lives during the 9 months of pregnancy cycle ruptures which is called a bag of water breaking the important sign of labor.
As this is a crucial sign of labor and needs immediate medical attention so it is vital for every expectant mother to have a thorough understanding of this labor sign. Though medical professionals are still not sure what actually causes this phenomenon but it develops with some common symptoms so anyone can identify this sign immediately as and when it happens.
If you are pregnant especially if it is your first pregnancy then its quite usual to feel anxious about water breaking and you must have lots of queries regarding this vital sign and symptom of labor initiations. So to resolve all your queries and concerns here we have enlisted a complete detail of this crucial labor sign that you must not miss at any cost for the sake of healthy delivery of your baby.
What happens when water breaks?
During the pregnancy period, your growing baby remains surrounded by a protective layer of fluid-filled membranous sac known as an amniotic sac. This sac usually breaks at the begging or during your labor period due to the rupture of membranes known as water breaking. As a result of this incident, you will experience wetness sensation in your vagina or on the perineum. The flow of fluid could be intermittent or constant leakage of a little amount of watery fluid from the vagina. Also sometimes it comes in the form of a clear or pale yellow gush that varies from one woman to another.
If water breaks before the starting of your labor process then it is called as prelabor rupture of membranes or PROM. Previously this early water breakage incident used to called as premature rupture of membranes.
How does it feel when your water breaks?
Water breaking experience is unique for every other woman who is pregnant. Also, the experience differs on pregnancy wise means the signs that you will notice in your first labor will remain different from the next pregnancies in some or other way. However in common when your water breaks you will feel a slow leak of fluid or sometimes sudden gushing of water or fluid. Also, some women feel fluid coming out in light pop and some women experience water coming out in heavy bursts especially when they change their body position.
The water flow experience also depends on your baby’s position and movement in the womb. In this condition baby’s head acts like a cork that plugs the cervix and when moves more water releases. Apart from this more fluids may come out depending on the frequency of your contractions. As a result of contraction, you will continue leaking fluid until your delivery is completed. So to avoid the spreading risk of amniotic fluid in every other area you sit it will be better that you place a towel first before sitting in any location.
The fluid that comes out due to water breaking doesn’t smell either good or bad and looks clear or pale yellow. The level of fluid remains in its peak position during the 36th week of your pregnancy approx 4 cups of fluid exists at this point in time of your pregnancy phase. After that, the level of the fluid decreases slowly.
How do you know when your water has broken?
It is sometimes difficult to say when actually your water has broken especially in the cases where the flow of liquid is occasional or as a result of water break only your underwear dampens little nothing more. In such cases, you should contact your healthcare provider to clear your doubts regarding the water break. This can easily be confirmed via physical examination or through an ultrasound diagnosis test.
What happens after the water breaks?
In case you doubt your water has broken you should immediately note down it's timing which will comes in great help when you visit your healthcare provider. Also, you should note down the timing of your contractions if you have started experiencing it. Water breaks usually signify the starting of your labor process in general or if not then soon your labor will begin. At this point, you may have earnest queries to know when your baby will come out.
However, still, it is difficult to say the exact delivery time as the labor duration varies from one woman to another. Also, the length of labor depends on different factors such as the exact timing of your water breaking, is everything progressing smoothly and whether this is your first labor experience or not, etc. However, it must be said that it is almost an end of your several month's waiting periods and at any point, you can see the face of your baby.
The cases where the water breaks before entering into labor known as premature rupture of the membranes (PROM). This kind of situation is limited to only about 8 to 10 percent cases and in general cases, water breaks only when you go into labor.
The cases where only water breaks but contractions have not started yet the healthcare specialists discuss in detail about the labor induction with the patient. In such cases in order to reduce the risk of the infection an intervention by doctors may require which helps in bringing on contractions. Otherwise, the gaping time between the water breaks and contractions start time raises the infection risk as the time progresses.
However, it’s better that you consult with your doctor to resolve your queries like whether your labor has started yet or not, who can confirm to get assured.
How much fluid flows out when the water breaks?
Some women experience only a light trickle whereas some women experience a gush of flow when the water breaks. This difference in flow speed and quantity majorly drive by your baby’s position in the uterus. Under the condition where your delivery date is closer, your baby’s head may remain lower in your pelvis and works as a dam. So if your baby’s head gives pressure against the cervix then the fluid won’t come out in excessive amount. On the other hand, if your baby is not engaged in the pelvis at all during membranes rupture then the flow of liquid could be in large volume at one go.
Irrespective of your flow intensity (trickle or gush) your baby understands that the membrane has ruptured. As per the doctors during this state prostaglandin, a natural chemical release is the reason behind the contraction starts which gives a boost to your body for the same.
After the water breaks when will labor begin?
Usually, your labor starts soon after your water breaks if it is not already started. However, in certain cases labor doesn’t start even after the water breaks. Typically these cases are prelabor rupture of membranes in which your healthcare provider’s intervention is needed to start the uterine contractions without waiting for your labor to start on its own. As much delay will happen at the starting of the labor process after the water breaks the risk of getting an infection increases that much for you as well as for your baby.
This concept also makes it very clear that just the water breaking or membranes rupture cannot be considered as your starting sign of labor or indication that it will start soon after. Similarly, contractions in your uterine may or may not start right after the water breaks. The contractions may start after many hours of the water break or even after a few days, in that case, it needs intervention help. After the water break, you will experience pain similar to your menstruation cycle pain which increases its intensity slowly before your contractions progress starts and gets stronger.
What you can and can’t do after your water breaking?
The moment your water breaks from then your baby is no longer that safe as he used to be in this protected cell before. The risk of infection increases along with the water breaking which was a fluid-filled protective sac for your baby. In this position what you can do for yourself as well as for your baby’s protection is to avoid using a tampon and avoid taking a bath.
Even after your water breaks you still have some time in your hand before your active labor signs begin. You can move your body easily even now to attain a more comfortable position to relax your body. Also get a light, relaxing massage to comfort yourself. Enjoy watching your favorite TV show or anything that entertains you to calm down your mind until you reach out to the hospital.
By the time your partner or any other responsible family member will make a call for getting an appointment with your ob-gyn. The doctor can guide you on call what you need to do right now and depending on your situation they will guide how urgently you need to reach the hospital.
At this condition the factors that your ob-gyn will consider includes:-
How Early is Your Rupture
If the rupture happens before your 37th week of pregnancy it is known as Preterm Premature Rupture of the Membranes or PPROM. As earlier this would happen your healthcare provider will decide on the basis of that to delay your labor so that your baby would get some more time to get mature.
Your Contractions Speed
Though during the first time delivery cases the labor and delivery process takes longer time than usual, however, if your contractions are irregular within 24 hours of the water break then your ob-gyn will decide to induce the labor by active intervention with the help of Pitocin.
How Much Time has Passed After Your Water Break
If the delivery is not done within the 24 hours of the water break then in order to reduce the infection risk you will be given antibiotics intravenously. This reduces the risk of infection caused by bacteria etc into the uterus and to your baby thereon.
What to do and what to avoid in this situation can be better guided by the ob-gyn. However, these common factors consideration helps in taking the right action at the right time.
What if your water breaks preterm?
When the water breaks before you reach your 37th week of pregnancy it is called as preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM) which is different from PROM as it occurs shortly before your labor starts. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if your water breaks preterm. On the basis of your total pregnancy weeks, and you’re as well as your baby’s health your healthcare provider will discuss the best course of action for you. Early water breaking also increases the risk of placental abruption in which placenta peels away from your uterine lining and umbilical cord problems occur along with the risk of infection. They will also discuss the risk of early delivery as well as the benefits of delaying labor.
Following factors increases your risk of PPROM –
- History of PPROM in your previous pregnancy.
- In case of inflammation of the fetal membranes or intra-amniotic infection.
- You had vaginal bleeding in your second or third trimester of pregnancy.
- Your cervical length is short.
- You are underweight and nutrition deprived.
- You smoke or use illicit drugs during your pregnancy.
If a woman had PPROM and she is at least 34 weeks pregnant at that point in time then delivery suggestions might be recommended by the healthcare provider in order to avoid the infection risk. However, if no sign of infection is noticed and fetal health is absolutely ok then pregnancy can be continued under the supervision of the healthcare specialist.
In the cases where a woman is in between her 24 to 34 weeks of pregnancy then delay is made as much as it is possible to let the baby mature enough. Necessary treatment is given at this point such as an injection of potent steroids etc in order to mature the lungs of the baby. In the cases where a woman is less than 32 weeks pregnant and her risk of delivery lies within a few days, in that case, she provided with magnesium sulfate in order to protect her baby's nervous system.
If a woman is less than 24 weeks pregnant and contains the risk of delivery within 7 days then the healthcare provider will discuss in detail all risk factors associated with preterm baby delivery and also the benefits of delaying the labor for baby’s health.
What if it doesn’t break?
If your water doesn’t break on its own and your ob-gyn needs to intervene to stimulate the labor, in that case, they may rupture the amniotic sac during the physical examination of your vagina. If this happens then labor must start within a few hours of this intervention. Though water breaking does not develop any pain itself but this phenomenon is a bit uncomfortable as you will experience a tug followed by a trickle or sudden gush of warm water.
When do you need to call your doctor immediately?
Call your doctor immediately if-
- After the water breaks, the fluid which comes out looks brown or of green color which indicates your baby had a bowel movement in the uterus.
- You feel the presence of something in your vagina or find a loop of the umbilical cord near your vaginal opening point.
- You are 37 weeks or less pregnant now. However, this is a very rare scenario.
We hope after going through this article you must have got every possible answer to your queries regarding the water breaking the important sign of labor. So enjoy your pregnancy journey but with full safety considering these important points that will surely make your journey easier.