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March 21, 2023

Everything you want to know about your water breaking!

Learn everything you need to know about your water breaking and what to do if it breaks spontaneously or prematurely.


“How will I know if my water breaks?” is a very common question I receive. 

Usually followed by, “What do I do if my water breaks?” Based on how often this comes up in class, I thought this would be a good topic to examine! 

The image most people have of one’s water breaking is usually derived from TV or movies in which the water breaks and all hell breaks loose. 

Let’s start off by saying that only about 10% of people will experience PROM – premature rupture of the membranes- meaning, the water breaks before the onset of labor. The other 90%  will either experience their membranes rupturing during labor or have them artificially ruptured by their care provider during labor. In rare cases, babies can even be born with the caul, which is when the amniotic sac is still intact after the baby is born.

How will you know if your water has broken?

Some people will experience a gush of fluid from their vagina, others will feel more of a trickle. It all depends on where the baby’s head is in relation to the cervix. Think of the baby’s head like a wine cork: if the head is low, it will block the fluid rushing out, allowing for more of a trickle. If the head is high, there will likely be more of a gush. Also, the trickle of fluid could be a result of a high leak in the amniotic sac. 

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How will I know that it’s my water that has broken and not something else?

Most people experience a fair amount of vaginal discharge especially towards the end of pregnancy. A few ways to identify the difference between amniotic fluid, vaginal discharge and urine is, once your water breaks, leaking will continue. Also, the amniotic fluid is a yellowish, clear liquid with no odor. Sometimes there are white specks or a slight blood tinge.

If the baby has passed its first bowel movement, the fluid will be a greenish/black color. This is called meconium and it can be a sign of fetal distress. If you see this greenish/black fluid, you should let your care provider know immediately. 

If you’re still not sure if your water has broken, your care provider can do a quick, unobtrusive test. Your provider will swab the fluid with a nitrazine-based test for rapid and easy detection of the premature rupture of membranes (PROM) during pregnancy.

Did you know there are two layers to your amniotic sac?

The amnion, the innermost bag also called the hind bag, is the sac in which the baby is directly contained. The chorion is the outer membrane or fore-bag. These two bags are in contact with one another and by the end of pregnancy fused together. It is because of these two layers of the amniotic sac that it is possible to have a leak or tear of the fore-bag which can repair itself and not be considered a “ruptured membrane”.

Some people find that after a little while, they are no longer leaking amniotic fluid. It’s not because there is no more fluid; your body constantly produces amniotic fluid when you are pregnant. Again, your care provider can test to see if there is still amniotic fluid present. If the fore-bag resealed, then your provider will likely not be in a rush to induce or see that labor starts soon.

If you want to read more about hospital interventions upon water breaking in this article: My Water Broke Now What…And Other Things To Think About

What happens once my water breaks?

If your membranes do rupture, again, just check out the color for meconium and then give your provider the heads up. If you are not experiencing contractions already, they will likely start within 12-24 hours of the membranes rupturing.

Also, each care provider has their own protocol for dealing with ruptured membranes. Usually, unless there are outstanding circumstances, the care provider will allow for 12-24 hours to see if contractions begin naturally before intervening. It’s really best to ask ahead of time how your provider handles PROM so that you’re not surprised or disappointed with what is then suggested. 

It will also be important to be aware if a fever is starting, which is a sign of infection. While sex is a great way to induce labor, it is NOT advised once the water breaks. Keep everything out of the vagina and minimize vaginal exams. Every time a foreign object is introduced into the vagina, there is an increased risk of infection.

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Be prepared for your water breaking at home!

Just a few suggestions for the weeks leading up to your due date. Have on hand some:

  • Maxi pads
  • A waterproof mattress cover
  • Wee Wee pads (from your local pet store)

Remember, once your water breaks, you will continue to leak. A little trick I learned through the years is to sleep with a waterproof mattress cover- nobody wants to have a ruined mattress covered with amniotic fluid! Or buy some Wee Wee pads from a local pet store. This will also absorb the fluid should your water break while you are sleeping and also come in handy if you are laboring at home for a bit and you are either sitting on a birth ball, chair or couch.

It is also important to continue to stay hydrated. Perhaps have some coconut water or your favorite juice (water it down a bit) on hand.

I hope this helps demystify any questions you may have around water breaking!

Happy birthing!

And if you would like to attend any of the classes that the Prenatal Yoga Center has to offer click below to view the schedule and book a class!


What are the signs that your water is about to break?

There are no particular signs that your water is about to break. Most of the time, it happens unexpectedly. It is important to remember that only 10% of people have their water break before the onset of labor. 

Can the baby move after the water breaks?

Your baby will continue to move once your water breaks. However, without that extra fluid and cushioning, there is diminished buoyancy. This will result in the baby not being able to reposition if the baby is malpositioned (in a less ideal positionfor birth). Think of a water balloon with a golf ball inside. With less water, it would be harder to move the golf ball. 

What does it feel like when your water breaks?

You may feel either a slight trickle or a gush of water. How much water you lose depends on the baby’s position. If you experience a gush of water coming out it may feel as if you are peeing uncontrollably and some do mistake water breaking for pee. 

Water breaking is completely painless. The only pain you may experience during water breaking are from contractions if you have already started them. 




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