So, you’re toward the end of your third term of pregnancy, and all you are waiting for is for that water bag to burst, as many Hollywood movies indicated as the ultimate sign that you’re in labour.
Fortunately, those movies are only movies. As dramatic as that scene may be, the real deal is that there would already be plenty of signs that you are already in labour before your water bag breaks. Your water breaking then just becomes one of the many signs you’re ready to deliver.
That’s not to say, of course, that you should take this sign lightly. When your water bag bursts, how it looks like, and how long it takes before your contractions happen are all factors that you ought to be concerned about to make sure you go through a safe delivery.
So, if you want the all-you-need-to-know-information about water bag breaking – water breaking signs, the meaning of water breaking, the risks, and the must-dos, read on.
Water breaking in pregnancy – What to Expect
Image Source: iStock
#1 – Your water bag normally ruptures at 37 weeks
The first thing you ought to know is when to expect water bag breakage. Usually, it’s when you reach 37 weeks. If it happens after your 37th, it’s totally fine as well. You can go ahead and proceed to your desired hospital for labor and delivery.
What if it ruptures before your 37th week? That is called a preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM) and a sign that you should call your doctor. You are at risk of infection if you let your water bag break without telling your OB-GYN. And infection can lead to stillbirth. So, when your water bag breaks before it’s supposed to, phone the doctor without delay.
If it breaks at 34 weeks and it is found that you have no signs of infection, your doctor may allow you to proceed with your pregnancy, but you will be closely monitored because the rupturing of your amniotic sac makes it much easier for you to catch an infection. So, to avoid any of that risk, some doctors proceed with delivery even if you are only 34 weeks.
If it breaks between your 24th and 34th week, your doctor will most likely do all measures to delay your delivery because your baby isn’t fully developed yet. They will ask you to take antibiotics to prevent infection until you are ready to deliver.
The usual causes of water breaking early in pregnancy are:
- You’ve had a history of PPROM in past pregnancies
- Have an intra-amniotic infection
- You experienced vaginal bleeding during the latter part of your pregnancy
- Have smoked or used illicit drugs during your pregnancy
- You are underweight and have poor nutrition
- You have a short cervix
#2 – Your amniotic fluid may feel like an uncontrollable gush or trickle of liquid down your legs
One of the biggest questions many pregnant women ask about labor is how to know if the liquid running down their legs is their water breaking, discharge, or pee. And it can be confusing, honestly, given that many pregnant women have constant discharge throughout their pregnancy or experience out-of-nowhere urine trickling down their legs during this journey.
With all these similarities, it’s so hard to distinguish water-breaking signs. So, it’s an absolute must to know the difference.
First, let’s differentiate pee from amniotic fluid. You can control your pee from coming out of you; your amniotic fluid, however, you can’t. One tell-tale sign is once you feel that liquid trickling down your leg, sit down, and then stand up. If you continue to feel that trickle, you’re one step into labor.
Now, what’s the difference between amniotic fluid and discharge? As you may have noticed already if you’ve been having them throughout this pregnancy journey, discharge is a lot thicker. So, it won’t trickle down your leg like pee or amniotic fluid would. So, if you see fluid that’s more runny in consistency, you have yourself another water-breaking sign.
Image Source: iStock
#3 – Your amniotic fluid is odorless and clear or pale yellow in color
Another way of differentiating pee and discharge from the amniotic fluid is their smell and their color.
Pee looks a lot like amniotic fluid, often they present clear or pale yellow. But, the key is in the smell. Does it smell like ammonia? If it does, that’s pee. Is it odorless? That’s amniotic fluid. That’s a water-breaking sign. Sometimes, it smells sort of sweet like semen or chlorine. But never does it smell like ammonia.
Another difference between your water breaking and regular discharge is the color. While the amniotic fluid is often clear or pale yellow, the discharge will most likely have a milk-like color. And, as mentioned earlier, it’s thicker in consistency.
Now, if you notice that the fluid is reddish or brownish in color, you need to call your OB, because that could mean your baby had a bowel movement in utero.
Tip: When consulting your OB about the fluids that come out of you, best if you take pictures 0r videos. It’ll be quicker to judge what they are.
#4 – Your water often breaks mid-labour already
Yes, that’s not what movies told you about labor. But, in reality, only about 15 to 20 percent of pregnant women experience their water breaking before labor. So, if you’re part of the 80 to 85 percent, you might already be experiencing contractions before your water bag ruptures.
That then shows your water breaking is not a sign your baby is ready to be delivered; it’s just become one of the many discomforts that you will experience during the rest of your pregnancy journey. The only other thing that your water bag bursting tells you during labor is that the more painful contractions are coming.
What happens if you’re in active labor already, your cervix is already thinned out and dilated, and your baby’s head is already waiting to be pulled out in your opening but your water bag hasn’t busted, your doctor will perform an amniotomy. All it is is a small plastic hook used to puncture a small hole in your amniotic sac to let the fluid that is inside flow out.
What to watch out for when your water breaks
#1 – Your water breaks but you feel no contractions
If you don’t have contractions immediately after your water breaks, don’t stress out yet. Your baby will survive after your water bag ruptures. You have at least 12 to 24 hours before you experience your first contractions.
Within that timeframe, do not worry if you will run out of amniotic fluid
as your body produces them up until you deliver. Really, the only risk of a huge gap between your water breaking and your labor is the possibility of getting infected during that timeframe.
Often, after your water has broken and your contractions haven’t started, you’ll be asked to go home first and to try to speed up labor
after your water breaks. So, they’ll advise you to take long walks or to rest on birth balls or peanut balls.
If all else fails and still no sign of a contraction, call your doctor. They’ll admit you and start inducing labor. In the meantime, you’ll be provided antibiotics to prevent infection.
#2 – Your water breaking is a one-time gush of fluid
If you no longer feel trickles of fluid after that one gush, it could mean your baby’s head has blocked and stopped the leak. That increases the risk of infection. So, if that happens, call your doctor without delay.
There you have it, mums! Your water breaking may not be as dramatic and exciting as those labor scenes in movies and TV shows, but what happens after, when you start hearing the cry of that little human you’ve been giving a warm home to, you’ll forget all the boring details of your water breaking.
Image Source: iStock
Republished with permission from theAsianparent Singapore
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