So it’s your worst nightmare come true. But… it’s also sort of anticlimactic.
Your water breaking won’t really be as dramatic as you have come to expect watching the movies, wherein you’re chatting to sweet old grandmother next door and boom! Your water suddenly breaks on you.
Now, let’s get some facts clear. The phrase ‘water breaking’ actually refers to amniotic fluid and not, well, water. Amniotic fluid is a slightly yellowish, clear fluid that surrounds your unborn baby in the womb. It’s actually encompassed by the amniotic sac, inside which your baby floats blissfully.
The amniotic fluid serves as nature’s very own cushions for your unborn child. It also acts like a shock absorber for any movements or sudden blows, allows fetal lungs to develop properly, provides the developing baby room to move and grow hence promoting proper bone growth, and also stabilizes the temperature around your child, preventing any loss of heat.
On top of all of that, it defends your child from the outside world, preventing any infections from making contact with your precious little roommate.
Sounds pretty cozy, right?
Once your baby is ready to brave the outside world, the amniotic sac will rupture, which causes all the amniotic fluid to drain down, through your cervix then your vagina. This is the phenomenon, which we colloquially refer to as ‘water break’. Except, it’s also accompanied by a lot of hysterical screaming, frenzied panic and well-meaning strangers, who are there to help you with advice.
It’s only 1 out of 12 mothers who can experience a water break just before her labor happens to commence. Despite the wild and wholly unenlightened imagination of Hollywood, your water usually breaks only once you’ve entered labor, which is when your body starts prepping for the arrival of your child.
There are cases when the water simply doesn’t break, which is when it falls upon the attending doctor or nurse to take the initiative and rupture the amniotic sac manually.
In the event of the amniotic sac membrane rupturing, you will either experience a gentle tricking or a full out gushing. There could be a chance that you may just confuse the amniotic fluid with urine since incontinence is a common symptom most pregnant women suffer during their last trimester. This may come as a surprise, but there is also always the likelihood of your labor commencing one whole day after the breaking of your water.
Though amniotic fluid is colorless and odorless, some women claim that it smells rather sweet. Hence, if you’re in the am-I-about-to-have-a-child-or-not dilemma, then you could always take a nice good sniff to ascertain whether the fluid trickling down is urine or amniotic fluid. Sounds gross, but after nine months of pregnancy, you’ve probably seen and done it all.
Some blood can also accompany the amniotic fluid. You must ensure that the smell of your amniotic fluid isn’t off. If it happens to strike you as smelling foul or putrid, appears greenish or blackish in color, or perhaps contains a significant amount of blood, then at once rush to the nearest hospital. The presence of a greenish or blackish hue signifies that your child has passed his or her first poop inside the womb and is in distress.
If your contractions are sporadic or if you just aren’t getting any, your doctor may ask you to go back home with the instructions to come again when the contractions start or get stronger and more closer. If the contractions don’t occur in the following 24 hours, your doctor may attempt to induce labor.
To be honest, water break shouldn’t be something to worry about. If you still harbor any lingering doubts, feel free to discuss them with your doctor. All the best soon-to-be-mommy!