Will My Water Definitely Break Before Labor Starts?

If you watch movies or television, you might think you know everything about how babies are born. Generally, a mom-to-bes bag of waters breaks immediately, followed right away by severe and fast contraction. Then, she proceeds to deliver her baby on the way to the hospital in a cab assisted by a ruggedly handsome ex-cop. Of course, these stories are not only exciting, they are also far from the truth.

The fact of the matter is that, for only about 13% of women, their water will break before going into labor. For more than 3/4 of women, their water won’t break until they are well into labor, and dilated as much as 9 centimeters. Having said that, it is still fairly common for a woman’s water to break before labor starts.

When we refer to water breaking, it describes how the bag of waters, known as amniotic fluid, breaks. The bag of waters protects your baby from infection and bacteria. If your water breaks, it is often a sign that labor is about to begin, but it can happen days before you go into labor. Often, your health care provider will want to induce labor after your water breaks, to reduce the risks of infection. When your water breaks, it may feel like a gush of liquid, or it may feel like an uncontrollable trickle of fluid.

The biggest concern for expectant moms in terms of their water breaking is being able to distinguish their water breaking from trouble with their bladder. This can even be difficult for health care providers. If you think that your water might have broken but are not sure, you should start by emptying your bladder. Then, as more fluid continues to leak, collect some on a sanitary pad. if it has a yellowish color to it or a strong smell, it is probably urine rather than amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid tends to be clear, odorless, and colorless.

Ultimately, you will have to watch for other signs to let you know that labor is beginning. Contractions, dilation and effacement of the cervix, and sometimes a mothers intuition are often better indicators of the onset of labor.


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