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Both times that my water broke as the first sign of labor everyone around me started running all over the place in a panic just like headless chickens. After so many film scenes where a woman’s waters breaks and she is whisked away to the hospital, western society has been trained to believe this is always a sign that the baby is coming any minute!

I think during those last few weeks of pregnancy we are all on high alert. Am I leaking? Is my water going to break at the movie theatre tonight? Thankfully,  only about 15% of people start labor with their water breaking. The rest of us will have time to get to a location where we won’t have to waddle through a crowd needing a change of pants.

Spontaneous rupture of membranes or SROM is the technical term for your waters breaking on their own. Sometimes it can be hard to be sure if your water has broke. Some women experience a “pop” and then a gush of fluid while others experience a little trickle. If you suspect that your water has broke but you are not sure, go pee and then lie down for 10-15 minutes. If when you get up more fluid leaks, there is a good chance you’re leaking amniotic fluid.

If you think your water has broken you should call your doula and remember C.O.A.T.:

Color: The fluid should be fairly clear. Yellow, green or brownish fluid may indicate an infection or fetal distress.

Odor: A mild, slightly musky scent is normal. Strongly scented or foul-smelling fluid may indicate infection.

Amount: Did you experience a trickle or a Gush?

Time: What time did it happen or begin? The longer your water has been broken the higher the risk for infection. Your primary care provider may want to induce labor of your water breaks and you do not deliver your baby within a set time frame.

If you are full term, the fluid is clear and doesn’t have a distinct foul odor, and your doctor/midwife has not told you otherwise, your water breaking is only a sign that you are in early labor and you should give your doula and/or midwife a heads up before getting some rest and carb loading for your big event! 

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If you have tested Group B Strep positive it is important that you follow the instructions you have been given by your obstetrician, doctor or midwife to reduce the risk of passing the infection to your baby.

Rarely but sometimes, your water breaking is an emergency!

You should call your doctor/ midwife or go to the hospital immediately if:

  • your membranes rupture prior to 37 weeks
  • the fluid has a strongly scented or foul odor
  • the fluid is yellow, green or brown

When to call 911:

  • If your water has broken and you feel something hanging in your vagina (then get in a knees & chest position on the floor)
  • If the birth is suddenly imminent and the midwife is not going to make it in the next few minutes

Artificial rupture of membranes or AROM may help move labor along. Use the B.R.A.I.N. acronym to make the right choice for you and your baby.

If your water breaks while laboring at the hospital be sure to let your nurse know so she can assess C.O.A.T.

Want to read more? You might like : Does being grossed out by my new baby make me a bad mom?

At what point during labor did your water break?

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