When your water breaks during pregnancy, it may not be as dramatic as portrayed in movies, and it can be mistaken for other bodily fluids like urine or vaginal discharge. Here are some key points to help you differentiate between your water breaking and other fluids and what to do when your water breaks:
What Happens When Your Water Breaks:
- Your water breaking is the rupture of the amniotic sac membranes, which contain amniotic fluid that surrounds your baby during pregnancy.
- Contrary to common misconceptions, only about 15% to 20% of people experience their water breaking before labor.
- The amniotic sac typically ruptures during labor, and it can lead to a gush of clear or lightly tinged fluid or a slow trickle.
Signs That Your Water Has Broken:
- Uncontrollable Leaking: When your water breaks, you may experience a gush of amniotic fluid or a slow trickle. You cannot control the flow.
- Clear and Odorless: Amniotic fluid is usually clear and odorless, although some people detect a sweet or chlorine-like smell.
- Pressure or Popping Sensation: Some people feel pressure or hear a popping noise when their water breaks, but it is not painful.
- Similar to Urinary Incontinence: Water breaking can feel like urinary incontinence, but urine is yellowish and smells like ammonia, while amniotic fluid is usually odorless.
Water Breaking vs. Discharge:
- Vaginal discharge (leukorrhea) during pregnancy is generally thicker and stickier than amniotic fluid, which is thin and watery.
- Do not confuse water breaking with losing your mucus plug, which looks like gelatinous, thick mucus with a yellowish-white color and may be tinged with blood.
What To Do When Your Water Breaks:
- Contact your healthcare provider to inform them of the situation.
- If contractions haven’t started or are mild and infrequent, your provider may recommend resting at home.
- Go to the hospital if your water breaks before 37 weeks, if the amniotic fluid has unusual qualities (foul smell, greenish or brownish color, or lots of blood), if contractions haven’t started within 24 hours, or if you’ve tested positive for group B Streptococcus (GBS).
- In some cases, you may receive antibiotics or undergo induction to prevent infection or protect the baby, especially if you have GBS.
It’s important to communicate with your healthcare provider and follow their guidance when your water breaks to ensure the safety and well-being of both you and your baby during labor and delivery.