Your Water Broke, Now What?

Pregnant woman on sofa
Publish 1 July 2021

When it’s time to give birth, amniotic fluid leaks through a pregnant woman’s vagina. How soon should she receive medical attention before it endangers the baby?

When It’s Time to Give Birth

It’s a famous scene in the cinema. A woman says her water broke. Then her nervous husband breaks every traffic law to get her to the hospital. But, the truth is, your water break­ing is not quite as dramatic. We’re break­ing it down for you so you’ll feel some­what better organized and know what to expect.

Why Your Water Breaks

During fetal development, amniotic fluid is a source of nourish­ment. As the infant grows, the fluid cushions and protects the unborn child. Some fluid may leak during periodic contrac­tions.

In the final trimester, the baby’s head presses against your cervix to keep amniotic fluid inside. While moving, some fluid escapes. So, it is advisable to sit on an absorbent towel during the final trimester if you’re pregnant.

When your baby is almost ready to make a passage or at some point during the labor, the sac pops or breaks. A sudden gush of odorless fluid tinged yellow flows out of the womb through the vagina. This is a signal that the birth is imminent. The interval between this occurrence and delivery varies for each indivi­dual. It can be a few hours to a few days.

Try not to panic. Tell your ob-gyn, midwife, or doula before breaking any traffic laws. Based on your regular examinations throughout pregnancy, your doctor can offer practical advice. Here’s what to expect afterward.

First, make sure it’s the water and not urine or a discharge!

It’s usually not very simple to tell if your water has broken. It very well may be amniotic fluid, discharge, or urine. If you merely experience a sensa­tion of wetness or a trickle of liquid, it can be hard to distinguish.

So, here’s how to tell if it is urine, discharge, or amniotic fluid (water):

  • Many pregnant ladies experience incon­tinence, particularly in the third tri­mester. A sniff will presumably clue you to what’s what. If the liquid is yellowish and scents of alkali, it’s likely pee. On the off chance that it doesn’t smell or smells sweet, it’s likely amniotic fluid.
  • The amniotic liquid is a pale, straw-hued liquid. Vaginal dis­charge is a slight, milky white bodily fluid like what you may experi­ence between periods.

Next steps if you’re sure your water broke.

When you are pretty sure that your water broke based on all signs and symptoms, a call to your ob-gyn is in order. Here’s more on what to know.

Be prepared to respond to these inquiries if your water breaks at home.

If your water breaks before you’re at the medical clinic, don’t freeze. Call your ob-gyn, midwife, or doula to tell them, and be set up to respond to the following three W’s:

  1. What time did your water break?
  2. What does it resemble?
  3. What does it smell like?

Time To Go To The Hospital

An ambulance is better equipped to handle emergen­cies en route. You’ll most likely make a beeline for the hospital or birth center in these situations:

  • Your water breaks before 37 weeks. If you experi­ence this untimely break of the mem­branes, your ob-gyn may find a way to defer labor.
  • The amniotic fluid smells foul, looks greenish or muddy, or contains loads of blood. This could show fetal distress or that the infant has passed meconium.
  • Contractions don’t begin within 24 hours of your water breaking. This requires profes­sional assessment.
  • You test positive for GBS Group B Streptococcus. Pregnant women get the test somewhere in the span of 36 and 37 weeks of pregnancy.

How soon afterward should you receive medical attention before it endangers the baby?

In later pregnancy, the amniotic sac serves the purpose of safety and protec­tion for the growing baby. When the water breaks, your baby is more inclined to infection and different dangers.

Female in labor

How long a baby can live once your sac breaks varies, so there’s no straight answer to that.

  1. If your infant is premature, every­thing may be fine and dandy for quite a while with appropriate monitoring and treatment. This is a benefit of an emergency clinical facility.
  2. In situations where the baby is 37 weeks, it’s better to wait for 24 to 48 hours for labor to begin on its own.

The key here is monitoring. If your water breaks without proper treat­ment, your child could confront some genuine dangers and even pass on. You, as well, are in danger of contamination and other complications.

What happens if the baby doesn’t arrive within 24 hours after your water breaks?

Water Broke Pregnancy

Normally, your cervix is similar in size and appear­ance to a penile urethra orifice. During labor, the cervix stretches wide enough for an infant to pass through.

If your baby hasn’t emerged within 24 hours of water break­ing, your ob-gyn may give you intra­venous anti­biotics. There’s a possi­bility that an infec­tion can go into the uterus and cause contamina­tion in the baby.

My ob-gyn has asked me to stay at home. What should I do now?

If the contrac­tions aren’t regular yet—and if your primary care physi­cian or midwife hasn’t advised you to go to the hospital—put a clean pad (not a tampon) in your pants if you can. Try to unwind and rest until the contrac­tions get longer, more robust, and closer together.

What you must avoid once your water has broken?

When your water breaks, your infant no longer has protec­tion from contamina­tion, as was the case inside the liquid-filled sac. Your midwife or ob-gyn may suggest you abstain from having a shower or using tampons to be on the safe side.

Water May Never Break

You might lounge around, trusting that labor will begin with the sensational spout of your water breaking. Some­times water never breaks until far along the process of childbirth or even minutes before the infant exits.

Pregnant sleeping woman

Your midwife or doctor may break your water for you to actuate your labor using the artificial rupture of membranes (ARM) procedure. Medical profes­sionals make a little tear in the mem­branes around your infant. They’ll either use a long flimsy probe (amnihook) or a clinical glove with a pricked end on one of the fingers (amnicot). This will feel somewhat like an internal assess­ment and won’t hurt you or your baby.

Regardless of how your water breaks, it’s a signifi­cant sign that your baby is ready to meet you. Take a deep breath and focus on the goal. You’re almost there!

Co-author Faiza Khan Niazi writes engaging articles about pregnancy and parenting.

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