October 16, 2017
Despite the way that media makes it sound, did you know that only 10% of women will experience their water breaking as the first sign of labor (before contractions?) Your water might break at the start of labor, it might break somewhere in the middle of labor (most commonly), and for some women, it doesn't even break at all until the baby is born!
No matter when it happens, though, your water breaking is definitely a sign of labor. Studies show that between 75%-95% of women who experience spontaneous rupture of the membranes (your water breaking) prior to contractions will be in active labor within 24 hours. If you were already in labor, your water breaking often increases the intensity of your labor. The reason for this may be that when the waters break, it causes increased pressure of the baby on the cervix, causing the release of the hormone oxytocin, which causes contractions.
When your water breaks, it can happen one of two ways:
If your water has broken before you are at the hospital, it's time to call your care provider. They will confirm that your water has broken at the hospital using a simple test. There are certain factors that can increase your risk for infection once your water has broken, and they may want to monitor you and make sure that you and your baby are staying healthy, and that labor is starting and progressing in a timely manner.
If you think that your water just broke, take a minute and check out the color and smell. Amniotic fluid should smell sort of sweet or musty, like fresh mowed grass, or sometimes people say it reminds them of chlorine. Regardless, it shouldn't smell bad, and you will want to let your provider know if it does, and head in right away to be checked out.
Here is what amniotic fluid might look like too: