Water breaking is a pivotal moment for pregnant women that culminates in a child’s birth. You have likely been waiting for this moment for nine long months and would like to know a little about what to expect.
Water Breaking Overview
This event typically occurs towards the baby’s due date and signals that the expecting mother is entering or has entered the labor stage. Many women have heard the phrase, but few understand the important parameters surrounding its occurrence.
The Biology Behind the Event
During pregnancy, the baby is surrounded by a water-filled structure known as the amniotic sac. In the immediate period leading to birth, this sac ruptures, and the fluid contained within spills out.
Each individual might experience water breakage in a different way. In certain cases, women may notice an accumulation of wetness inside their vaginal regions. Others could experience a continual leakage of water through their vaginas or an intermittent flow. Sometimes, women will notice a steady gush of clear or yellow liquid.
Seeking Medical Care
Healthcare professionals and childbirth specialists strongly urge women experiencing any of the preceding symptoms to visit a medical facility as soon as possible. A true medical assessment cannot be made over the phone or through conjecture. A team of trained doctors and medical staff members will need to examine the individual to make a firm determination.
However, individuals who are not positive that breakage has occurred are encouraged to administer what healthcare professionals call the “stand up test.” If leakage seems to intensify upon arising, there is a good chance the water has broken.
Vaginal leakage does not always indicate water breakage. Sometimes, the effusing substance is mucus. Toward the final stages of pregnancy, the cervix begins to soften, which might precipitate the increased production and secretion of mucus. Typically, mucus is thicker or whiter than amniotic fluid and might additionally contain minute blood concentrations.
Large Quantities of Water Will Not Always Occur
Almost everyone has witnessed a depiction of a pregnant women’s water breaking in a television show or motion picture. In such scenes, the subject typically hemorrhages water. However, the reality is far different for most expecting women. The water expelled can and often does escape in small amounts. It is important to reiterate that only trained medical professionals can render a proper determination.
Many prospective first-time mothers wonder if water breaking precipitates any significant discomfort. Most healthcare professionals opine that the event should not be painful but is often accompanied by what childbirth experts describe as a popping sound.
Timing in Relation to Labor Commencement
Once the water breaks, even in cases where the amniotic sac has not yet totally ruptured, contractions usually begin within 12 to 24 hours. This signals entrance into labor.
Women who experience manifestations of water breakage earlier than 37 weeks into their pregnancy should seek immediate medical attention. In many instances, this event signals the onset of premature birth, which, if not properly handled, could precipitate serious complications for both the mother and unborn child.
Other Important Considerations
When the membranes do eventually rupture, the impacted woman’s risk of infection increases. Therefore, women are cautioned to absorb associated fluid with sanitary pads, not tampons.
Related Content: The Benefits of Delayed Cord Clamping
In the past, the common practice was to pass Dad the surgical scissors and have him perform a quick snip just before the newborn babe was whisked away to be cleaned, measured and dosed with vitamin K. Any delay in cord cutting was viewed as unnecessary in promoting general health for the baby or mother. However, recent research suggests that a delay of even three minutes can have a significant positive impact on infants.