What Causes Your Water to Break?

What You Need to Know About the Big Gush

Worried about when your water will break, and what it will feel like? It’s a common concern for moms-to-be who wonder what to expect. Water breaking is a natural process that prepares your body to give birth. However, some moms need a little help from their doctor to get the amniotic fluid flowing.

Natural Water Breaking

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Your baby grows inside a sac filled with amniotic fluid that cushions and protects your little one. When your baby is ready to make his entrance into the world, the amniotic sac tears or forms a hole, causing the fluid to leak. It’s officially called “spontaneous rupture of the membranes,” and it usually happens just before or during labor.

Doctor-Supervised Water Breaking

If you’re already in labor and the amniotic sac is still intact, your doctor may rupture it to speed up the process. The doctor uses a sterile plastic hook to gently make a hole in the sac. Sometimes, this artificial rupture of the membranes is used to start labor, but it is only safe if you’ve begun to dilate and your baby’s head is engaged in the pelvis. If the rupture happens too early, the risk increases for the umbilical cord to go around or below the baby’s head.

What Does It Feel Like?

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When your water breaks, it feels like a subtle trickle or even a gush of fluid. If it happens when you’re standing up, your baby’s head may be pressed against the cervix, preventing the fluid from coming out as a gush. If you don’t experience one large gush, you may wonder if it’s really amniotic fluid, or if you’re just having a weak pregnancy bladder moment. Always call your doctor if you think that wetness could be amniotic fluid. Waiting too long increases the risk of infection.

Is Your Baby Coming Immediately When Your Water Breaks?

Many women experience their water breaking at the onset of labor, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, the membrane rupture happens before contractions start, which is called “premature rupture of membranes.” Your doctor may decide to induce labor if your water breaks before contractions start because of the increased risk of infection to both you and your baby. The longer it takes for labor to start after your water breaks, the greater the risk for infection.

Preterm premature rupture of membranes happens if your water breaks before week 37. If you’ve reached at least week 34, your doctor may recommend inducing labor. Your doctor may try to hold off on the delivery as long as possible if you’re only 24 to 34 weeks. Expect to get antibiotics to minimize the risk of infection. Corticosteroids are also commonly administered at that point to help your baby’s lung development.

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