What to Do When your Bag of Waters Breaks

It is common to be in labor without your water breaking. Actually, only thirty percent of women experience their water breaking before the start of labor.

What Is My Bag of Waters?

The bag of waters—or amniotic sac—is a bag or “membrane filled with fluid that surrounds your baby in your uterus during pregnancy.” The bag of waters is very important to your baby’s health. The fluid protects your baby and gives your baby room to move around. The bag itself protects your baby from infections that may get into your vagina.

Is it urine or is it amniotic fluid? If you are leaking, it can be difficult to determine if your membranes are leaking or if it is urine. In most cases, it is probably urine. There are several ways to tell the difference, but there is no definite answer. When in doubt, smell it! Urine has a distinct smell and color. You will leak urine when your bladder is full, when coughing , sneezing or laughing; even when you are exercising. Only 3 percent of pregnant women will go into premature labor (before 37 weeks) as a result of ruptured membranes.

In most cases your membranes will rupture as you are nearing the end of your pregnancy, and this is definitely one of the early signs of labor. If your water does break in public, and you have visions of a huge gush of water running all over the floor, then you have probably been watching too many movies. It is most likely going to occur as a slow trickle, or at most, a small gush of fluid of colorless and odorless amniotic fluid. Call your healthcare provider if your water breaks and the fluid is green or brown. This is an indication that your baby had a bowel movement in utero.

What Should You Do When Your Water Breaks

First, don’t panic! Follow the instructions your healthcare provider discussed with you if and when your water breaks. Immediately after your water breaks, know that nothing should be placed in your vagina at this point. This will help prevent infection.
•Wear a maxi pads, not tampons, to keep the amniotic fluid from wetting your clothes
Keep your vaginal area clean
When you go to the bathroom, be sure to wipe from front to back
Sexual intercourse is officially off-limits

Call your healthcare Provider immediately if:

Your due date is more than 3 weeks away from today
•The water is green, or yellow, or brown, or has a bad smell
•You have a history of genital herpes, whether or not you have any herpes sores right now
•You have a history of Group B strep infection (“GBS positive”)
•You don’t know if you have GBS or not
•Your baby is not in the head-down position, or you’ve been told it is very high in your pelvis
•You have had a very quick labor in the past, or feel rectal pressure now
•You are worried.
•If you feel something in your vagina, or see any of the umbilical cord at the vaginal opening, get medical help immediately

Call your health care provider within a few hours if:
•Your due date is within the next 3 weeks and
• You are not in labor and the fluid is clear, pink, or has white flecks in it
• Your baby is in the head-down position
•Some health care providers will want you to come in to the office to confirm that the bag of waters has broken and listen to the baby’s heartbeat as soon as you notice that the bag of waters has broken. Others will suggest you stay home for several hours to wait for labor to start.

What Do I Do Until Labor Starts?

Most women will go into labor within 48 hours. If you are waiting for labor to start and your bag of waters has broken:
• Put on a clean pad
•Do not put anything in your vagina
•Drink plenty of liquids—a cup of water or juice each hour you are awake
•Get some rest
•Take a shower
•If there is any change in your baby’s movements, call your health care provider right away

Check your temperature with a thermometer every 4 hours—call right away if your temperature goes above 99.6.

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