If you are expecting a baby, you probably have questions about “the water breaking.”This topic is one that generates many questions during a childbirth class.In this blog we will answer 10 frequently asked questions about water breaking.

1. Does the water always break at the start of labor?

What’s more dramatic than a pregnant woman announcing “my water just broke” and seeing a puddle form beneath her? In the movies, this is usually the plot point that starts the labor scene. In real life, this is usually not the way this goes. The medical term for water breaking is ‘rupturing the membranes’ and this can happen at any time during labor and birth. The amniotic sac which is filled with amniotic fluid (aka the water) ruptures at the start of labor usually only about 25% of the time. It is more common to experience hours of contractions before the membranes rupture.In rare cases, babies can even be born inside the sac!If the membranes don’t rupture at the start of labor, care providers can sometimes suggest artificially breaking the amniotic sac.This is done with a small plastic hook.

2. Will contractions always follow water breaking?

Contractions can occur before, during and after the water breaks.In more rare occasions, the water might break and contractions don’t start for several hours.

3. When the water breaks, is it a gush of water?

The amount of water and whether or not it comes out in a gush depends upon several factors. You can experience everything from a big gush to a small trickle.The type of break in the amniotic sac can make a huge difference in what is experienced.If the sac breaks open in a big tear then a gush is likely to occur, imagine the popping of a water balloon. But if the sac gets just a small hole, then a trickle is more likely. Imagine a pin prick in a water balloon in this case. The baby’s position can also have an effect on whether there will be a gush of water.Babies who are very low in the pelvis could be blocking the water from escaping in a big gush and instead more of a trickle is felt.

4. After my water breaks will I continue to leak?

YES! Even if you experience a gush of fluid in the beginning, you will likely continue to lead throughout labor and until the baby is very low in the pelvis. To manage this leaking you can put on pad or another idea is to wear a pair of incontinence underwear (adult diapers) which will easily hold the leaking and are great for postpartum bleeding too.

4. What will water breaking feel like?

Many women report feeling a popping sensation when the water breaks followed by water exiting their vagina. When the amniotic fluid comes out many women say that it feels like they are peeing, but that they can’t control it.

5. Can water breaking be just a few drops?

When the amniotic sac ruptures with just a small break and/or the baby is very low in the pelvis there might be just a few drops of water. However, if you move around and change positions (lying down to standing or sitting to standing) you will likely see and feel more leaking fluid. If you only have a few drops even after moving around, then it might not be your water breaking.

6.What does water breaking look like?

The amniotic fluid or water can look a few different ways after it breaks. It can be clear, whiteish, pinkish, greenish and brownish. Clear, whiteish and pinkish fluid is the most common. Greenish and brownish fluid is less common and something to alert your doctor or midwife of shortly after you notice it. If a baby poops inside the womb, the fluid can be greenish or brownish. This can be a sign of a possible problem with the baby and is always important to check out.

7. Can water breaking look like discharge?

Yes, water breaking can look like very thin discharge. The primary difference is that usually water will drip or flow out of your vagina as you are moving around. If you aren’t sure if you are seeing discharge or leaking fluid, you can put on clean underwear WITHOUT a pad. Within a few minutes of moving around you should be able to more clearly tell if you are leaking water or just have increased amount of discharge.

8. Will water breaking smell?

Sometimes the amniotic fluid (water) can have an odor. If you notice a foul odor, this could be the sign of an infection and the existence of an odor should be mentioned to your midwife or doctor immediately. Some people have said that they smell a sweet odor. This should also be mentioned to your care provider, but likely isn’t a concern.

9. Will breaking water induce labor?

Sometimes a doctor or midwife will artificially break the water in order to attempt to induce labor. In some cases, the breaking of water will induce labor and other times there will be no change as a result of this action.

10. Will water breaking ruin a mattress?

If the water breaks while lying in bed, it may leak onto a mattress.Depending upon the quantity, there might be damage to the mattress. To possibly reduce any mattress damage, you can get a waterproof mattress pad for your bed during your third trimester.

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