Are you getting closer to your due date, and wondering what to expect when your waters break? Are you worried that it will happen at an inconvenient time and place? Everyone’s experience of their waters breaking is different, so to help you get prepared for it, here are a few facts.
Your baby develops inside a bag of fluid called an amniotic sac. Your ‘waters breaking’ is the rupturing of the sac when your baby is ready to be born.
Your waters can break at anytime during labour, sometimes before, and occasionally they don’t break at all (this is when the baby is born inside the amniotic sac, and referred to as ‘en caul’). In some cases, a midwife will break your waters to speed up or induce labour. Labour often starts with contractions, but for about one in ten women their waters break before labour when they’re full-term. For about three in 100 women, their waters break even earlier (as in before 37 weeks).
If you experience any of the following, your waters may have broken:
If your waters break before labour, it’s a sign that it’s on the way. Amniotic fluid protects your baby from germs and infections, so you need to contact your midwife or hospital for advice.
You will probably start to feel contractions within 12-24 hours, but if you don’t, your midwife or doctor may want to induce labour to protect your baby from infections. You will be given instructions whether to wait for contractions or to go into hospital.
Use panty liners or pads to keep your underwear dry and vaginal area clean. Not that you’ll be feeling like it, but sex should be avoided to reduce the risk of infection.
If you’re instructed to go into hospital, a midwife or doctor may assess you and your baby to decide what to do next. Your baby’s heart rate and movements will be monitored, your temperature will be checked, and you may be offered an internal examination to confirm whether your waters have broken.
According to the Royal Women’s Hospital you should go to hospital if: