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Updated on 15 February 2023
It’s natural to get anxious about your water breaking when you are pregnant and nearing your labor. Being curious is justified, however, there is no need to lose your sleep over the experiences of other mothers which you may have heard. In this article, we will discuss the meaning of water breaking, its signs, causes and when you should see a doctor.
During pregnancy, your baby is well-cushioned and well-protected in the amniotic sac that is filled with amniotic fluid. The purpose of amniotic fluid is to keep the temperature warm inside the womb, it also helps in developing the baby’s digestive system and respiratory systems. When the amniotic fluid is released through your cervix and vagina after the rupturing of the sac then it is termed as water breaking.
Water breaking is one of the signs that delineate, you are in early labor or will be in labor soon. A pregnant woman’s water breaks when the baby is just on the way. Some women experience a slight pop or trickling of odorless warm liquid whereas others experience a gush of pale-yellow odorless fluid flowing out of their system. It all depends on where the amniotic sac has been torn from. More fluid will come out when you experience strong contractions and you will continue to leak fluid until your baby pops out.
Here are the causes of water breaking during pregnancy:
If your cervical length is short
Using drugs, consuming alcohol, or smoking during pregnancy
A history of premature breaking of water in previous pregnancies
Poor nutrition and an unbalanced diet during pregnancy
Vaginal bleeding during first 2 trimesters
Inflammation of fetal membranes
You must immediately seek medical help if it is difficult for you to differentiate between your pee/discharge and water breaking. If you had a happy, healthy full-term pregnancy then just stay calm and contact your ob-gyn. However, if you notice that your water has broken before the beginning of your contractions then don’t forget to carry your hospital bag when going to see a doctor.
To differentiate between vaginal discharge, pee and amniotic fluid is slightly tricky but by smelling it you can know the difference. Amniotic fluid is a clear odorless fluid that may be slightly bloodstained in the beginning. Vaginal discharge is a thin white mucus that you have already seen during your menstrual cycle. It is thicker and heavier than amniotic fluid.
In some rare cases only the amniotic ruptures prematurely before labor otherwise you may already be in the hospital ready to deliver the child. Depending on the case it might take 12-24 hours to experience the first contractions after breaking the water.
If it takes more than 24 hours to begin your labor after breaking water then your doctor will have to induce labor to save you and your baby’s life. There are several risks involved and might attract bacteria for infections. With the help of an amniotomy, your doctor will open the amniotic sac and will let the fluid flow out of the cervix.
It is advisable to immediately seek medical help in the following circumstances:
If the fluid is brown or green then it means that your baby had a bowel movement inside the womb.
If you have reached the 37th week of your pregnancy and observe slow leakage of fluid between your legs.
In a rare case of PROM (if the position of the baby is breech or it’s a preterm case) you might observe something sticking out of your vagina then it can be the umbilical cord.
Getting panic in any of the above-mentioned situations will only worsen your condition. Stay calm and reach out to your doctor.
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Many mothers get worried and feel hesitant to step out during their last trimester because they are worried about what will happen if their water breaks at the restaurant, shopping mall, or movie theatre. Don’t worry too much because all you have to do is carry a maternity pad from the 36th week of your pregnancy. Avoid using a sanitary napkin or a tampon in this condition. You must keep your doctor’s number on the speed dial list whenever you are stepping out in your last month of pregnancy.
1. Wiley Online Library. (2016). Ruptured Membranes: When the Bag of Water Breaks. onlinelibrary.wiley.com
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