If you are probably pregnant, you have a lot of questions about what water breaking means, what does it feel like when your water breaks, when it will be produced and what you will have to do next. Knowing how to recognize the signs of water breakage and what this means in the evolution of labor will help you get ready for birth.
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What Does It Feel Like When your Water Breaks?
During pregnancy, the baby is surrounded and protected by a membrane structure containing a liquid called the amniotic sac. At the beginning of labor, its membranes will break – which is also called water breaking or amniorrhexis. When water breaks near the expected due date, and labor does not begin shortly, it is called early membrane rupture.
When the water breaks, you may feel a wet feeling in the vagina or perineum, an intermittent or continuous dripping of small amounts of watery liquid in the vagina. Only 1 in 10 pregnant women don`t notice this event, the amount of amniotic fluid being pretty easy to be felt and usually being produced at home in bed. – Learn more!
One of the component membranes of the sac is rich in collagen, and once the pregnancy reaches the term, the amount of collagen starts to reduce, decreasing the resistance of the amniotic sac as well.
Amniorrhexis is nothing else than the signal that childbirth will occur shortly and can happen before or, most of the times, after labor, at the end of its stage when the uterine contractions become stronger and stronger and the cervix dilates even more. This case is defined as spontaneous rupture of membranes. If the water breaks, but the pregnancy isn`t at term yet, the situation is defined as premature rupture of membranes.
There are also situations in which a woman enters goes into labor, the cervix is sufficiently dilated and the baby`s head has already engaged in the birth canal, but amniorrhexis hasn`t occurred. Then, the doctor may take the decision of opening the amniotic sac through a small incision, a procedure known as amniotomy and which may cause a slight discomfort. This method of producing amniorrhexis is known as artificial rupture of membranes. Amniotomy, known as the artificial rupture of membranes (AROM), can be used in the idea of accelerating the installation of labor. – More info!
Signs & Symptoms
Regarding the signs of amniorrhexis, they are different from one woman to another, the flow of liquid being able to take the form of small leaks that stain the underwear, discharges that continue and turn into abundant ones or sudden abundant discharge. These discharges can be confused with urinary discharges due to the fact that urinary incontinence is a frequent symptom experienced in the last stages of pregnancy, but the increase of liquid flow indicates an increase probability for its origin to be a broken amniotic sac.
Sometimes it`s not easy for a woman to be aware if membrane rupture occurred, in which case the physical investigation with a vaginal speculum and some lab tests made by a specialist will determine if the liquid that leaks is amniotic liquid or not. – Read more!
The amount of fluid varies, sometimes reaching up to 800 ml. Sometimes, once the water breaks, a sensation of relief may occur due to lower abdominal pressure, and in the case of women who already went into labor, they may feel that they are ready to push. In some women, the water break is accompanied by a small sound (similar to the one of breaking a balloon), followed by a fluid flow that leaks from inside the vagina.
What to Do if your Water Breaks?
Don`t do anything that could facilitate bacteria inside the vagina. Also, doing sex is not advisable if you think your water broke. It is ok to take a shower, but your doctor will probably recommend you to come straight to the hospital.
It is very important for women to notice when the water breaks, if possible. Prior to labor, he says he has to start contractions and birth is close. If labor has already begun and lasts for a long time, the exact moment when water is broken it`s a very precious information for the nurse who knows how to keep the baby safe from possible infections.
Breaking water can easily be confused with urination. When you cannot tell if you lose amniotic fluid or have urinary incontinence, consult the gynecologist. Laboratory tests will determine if your water has broken or not. It is important to keep your calm and to know what color and smell the fluid has. For this you need to be better informed. If the liquid is yellow and it smells like ammonia, it’s probably a loss of urine. But if it’s brown or green, we talk about amniotic fluid with meconium stains. This happens when the baby eliminates faeces in the uterus.
If the woman is already in the hospital, the doctor or nurse need to be announced regarding this event that has just occurred, and if the woman founds herself elsewhere, he needs to go to the hospital even if she hasn’t had any contractions. To avoid any leakage of the liquid, she can use an adsorbent, and if the liquid flows abundantly, she can use a towel, preferably white, so she can notice any abnormal coloring.
The amniotic liquid is without odor or color. A yellow, green or any other color can be a symptom of fetal distress, and the presence of an odor signals the existence of an infection. These 2 characteristics need to be mentioned to the doctor as soon as possible. Another aspect that may interest a doctor is the time during which the water break produced. – Click here!
After my Water Broke, when Will Labor Start?
Frequently, if the water breaks, it is likely that labor will begin soon, if it has not already begun.
Sometimes there is a delay. If you have an early rupture of the membranes, the doctor will induce contractions before the labor starts to trigger itself (induction of labor). The longer is the time between the breaking of the water and the commencement of labor, the greater the risk of infection.
If labor didn`t start 24 hours from your water break, you may choose its induction or you can wait for it to occur naturally beyond this time frame. Most women give birth 24 – 48 hours for the rupture of membranes. If during pregnancy, the test for Group B Streptococcus was positive, the doctor will decide for the induction of birth as soon as possible, because the fetus is no longer protected against infections by the amniotic liquid. – More details!
If the decision was for the installation of labor, it`s important to monitor the heart rates of the fetus and its movements, at certain intervals of time, as well as instructing the mother to check her temperature from 4 to 4 hours to notice possible signs of infections (fever). If the woman has fever, chills or if the frequency of fetal movements has decreased, she needs to tell the doctor.
Regarding the contraindications that occur with the rupture of membranes, they cover any action that may contaminate the vagina with bacteria. Due to this reason, sex isn`t recommended for a woman suspected by amniorrhexis.
What If my Water Breaks too Early?
If water breaks before the week 37 of pregnancy is called premature rupture of membranes and occurs in the following situations:
- History of premature rupture of membranes;
- Genital tract infection;
- Vaginal bleeding;
- Low body mass index (sub-weight).
If the membranes have broken too early, your doctor will consult you to evaluate your own health and your child’s health. Although it is sometimes possible to prolong the pregnancy for a short time after membrane rupture, generally nothing can be done and most women will give birth within a week of water rupture.– Find out more!
Possible complications are: maternal or infant infections, placenta abruption – detachment of the placenta from the uterus wall before birth – and umbilical cord problems. The child also has an increased risk of premature birth.
What Happens if Water Does Not Break Spontaneously?
If the obstetrician thinks that the amniotic sac should be open during active labor – when the cervix is partially dilated and the baby’s head deeply descended into the pelvis – he will use a technique called amniotomy, a procedure by which he makes a small opening in the amniotic sac using a thin plastic teat. The procedure can cause a slight discomfort.
If labor does not begin on its own, the obstetrician may also perform an amniotomy as part of the labor induction plan.