Being pregnant comes with its own set of rules and guidelines. What was normal for your pre-pregnancy body is suddenly off-limits. The only thing that can help you through the roller coaster of physical and emotional changes is being informed and aware of what is happening inside your body. Knowledge is your number one companion, especially if you are going to be a mother for the first time. Reading up and understanding what might happen will help you know how to deal with it instead of panicking. To help prepare you, let’s understand what you should do if your water breaks and what it means for the baby.
What happens when the water breaks?
When you get pregnant, the baby gets surrounded by the amniotic fluid in the amniotic sac. It protects the baby and provides it with cushioning. It also helps develop the baby’s digestive system and lungs while maintaining the surrounding temperature.
During the second half of your pregnancy, the baby’s urine makes up most of the fluid. But antibodies, nutrients, and hormones are also present in the fluid. The membranes of the sac can rupture at the start of the labor or even during. In some cases, they break before the labor. In medical terms, it is called the Pre-labor Rupture of Membranes (PROM).
When the water breaks, you may feel the wetness in your vagina or on your perineum. There is either constant or intermittent leaking through the vagina or a more apparent gush of pale yellow or clear fluid. Thankfully, it has no odor or smell of any kind. The liquid reaches its peak at 36 weeks of pregnancy. After that, the volume starts to slow down.
Did your water really break?
In some cases, it can be difficult to tell if your water broke or whether you peed yourself. During pregnancy, the pressure on the bladder increases, which makes the ladies rush to the toilet ever so often. Therefore, it is not uncommon for urine to trickle out once in a while.
However, if you feel like your water might have broke, you should still head to the emergency room. The specialists at the hospital can give you a physical exam to know for sure whether your water broke or not. In some cases, an ultrasound may be done to check the amniotic fluid volume.
What happens after the water breaks?
In most cases, labor follows soon after if it hasn’t already started. In some cases where the labor does not start, the doctor might stimulate uterine contractions. This is done to avoid long duration between the water break and labor as the chances of infection grows.
If the water breaks before time, then many factors have to be considered. If all is well and you have crossed 34 weeks of pregnancy, then the baby will be most likely delivered. If you are between 24 to 34 weeks, then the doctor will try to delay the birth, so that the baby can grow more.
What if the water does not break on its own?
There is no need for panic if the water does not break. Did you know that only 15% of women experience the amniotic sac rupture before they go into labor? In case the woman does not experience it, the artificial rupture of the membrane is initiated by a professional in the hospital. It is more common than you would think. Either way, you will not feel much pain.
It is pretty common for hospitals to receive calls from expecting mothers explaining how their water broke and enquiring whether they should come in or not. It is always better to go and get things checked out.
A lot of the time, our knowledge comes from people we know and what we see on the TV. In most scenes on TV, the water gushes out and then the would-be mother is rushed to the emergency room. However, that is not how things always happen. Even for the same women, different pregnancies could mean different experiences with water breakage.
Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful yet stressful times of your life. It is of utmost importance that you are comfortable with the process. No question is stupid or silly. It is better to ask the doctor anything that may be on your mind. Not only will it relax you, but it would also help you avoid mistakes that could harm you or the baby.