She might have a towel stuffed in her handbag and is really hoping not to make a scene, but the reality is, a woman's water can break at any time. Yes, any time. Whether she's doing the Downward-Facing Dog at yoga, getting her freak on in the bedroom, or ordering sliced ham at the deli counter, that little bundle of foetus just doesn’t give a hoot, and mom-to-be might well need to call a janitor at the most inconvenient time. The only guarantee about the water breaking is that the baby is a coming. Oh, and that things are about to get real messy round here.
Have I made you feel any better? Probably not. However, there is still hope for those of us dreading the drama of a bursting baby sac. Actually, only about 15% of pregnant women experience their water breaking before they go into labor, and only 1 in 10 of those women experience a rush of fluid. In the majority of cases, you’re already safely in the hospital and well and truly past the give-a-crap stage. I mean, seriously, who’s really going to care about a bit of amniotic fluid when you’re dealing with contractions and examinations of the cervix? Ouch!
Still, it would be nice to know which way it’s going to play out, wouldn’t it? But is there any real way to tell when your water is about to break? Is it possible to get prepared before the potential soaking? Or are we destined to spend the final few days before our due date as far from the outside world as possible? The answer is maybe, but there are certainly some clear-cut clues to look out for. Have a read below and see if you can spot the likely signs.
12 Xtreme Nesting Syndrome
We’ve all heard about this natural phenomenon, right? When you hit the final weeks of pregnancy, it takes everything in your power not to be awake at midnight, cleaning out your cupboards or scraping tile grout with a toothbrush. Your poor husband cowers whenever you get out ‘the list’, because he didn’t realize the entire house needed a fresh coat of paint until yesterday.
Well, imagine all this, multiplied by one billion. The desire to nest increases exponentially in the lead up to the birth of your baby, and just before your waters break, women have reported feeling the nesting urge in extreme and overwhelming proportions. Often unable to relax, they take nesting to new heights. An article in the UK Daily Mail reported that one woman took apart the knobs on her kitchen cupboards, just so she could disinfect the screws. If this happens to you, it might be time to head to the hospital.
11 What's Leaking?
Let’s face it, by your third trimester, you’re carrying a lot of extra weight, and all that added pressure on your bladder can from time to time cause you to do a little pee-pee in your panties. Also, if you succumb to a laughing, sneezing or coughing fit, you can kiss those pretty knickers goodbye. In fact, there probably isn’t a day that goes by in late pregnancy that you don’t have to change your underwear. Oh dear.
It doesn’t come as surprise then that many women confuse their water breaking with a bladder accident. They also mention that just before the leak of amniotic fluid, they experience an urge to urinate. Most make it to the toilet in time, only to find out that the leak just doesn’t stop. Others discover this a whole lot sooner. You can tell it's amniotic fluid and not urine, though, because the water has no smell and it’s usually yellow or pale straw-colored. If it’s green or red in color, however, it could be a sign of trouble for your baby. If this is the case, have a check up as soon as possible to put your mind at rest.
10 Pop! Goes The Weasel
Although, granted, this particular sign won’t give you time to do anything at all useful, it is a pretty standard hint of imminent water breakage. It might sound crazy, but when the sac of fluid around your baby ruptures, there is often a simultaneous ‘popping’ sound. I’m not just talking ‘in your head’ and I’m not just referring to a feeling; there is actually an audible pop that sounds out from down below. I know because I’ve heard it. How loud is it, I hear you ask? You can probably liken it to the sound of your hip joint cracking or a water balloon popping in a towel. And honestly, it would be quite funny if it wasn’t so momentous.
As to what it feels like, imagine a gentle flick inside your lady bits, followed by a gush of warm fluid from between your legs. It’s not the most pleasant way to arrive on the doorstep of motherhood, but let’s face it, it could be worse.
9 Cramping Ma' Style
Much the same as the major signs of labor, cramping in your uterus or the feeling that you're getting your period can indicate baby wants out from his water bag. Paul du Treil, M.D., Director of Maternal and Child Health at Touro Infirmary in New Orleans, says, "It may not be painful, but your whole stomach will tense and feel hard." Of course, this crampy sensation gets gradually worse and worse, and soon finds the rhythm we call contractions. And I'm sure you don’t need me to tell you the rest of the story.
So if you’re just settling down on the couch with your husband to watch One Born Every Minute, and you’re feeling that ol’ menstrual feeling, you might want to go and get a plastic sheet. Or at the very least, hop off his lap, yeah? You might be able to ignore the crampy feeling until the end of the TV episode, but after that, I’m afraid, it’s all up-hill. There’s also a chance of showers!
8 No Sign What-So-Ever!
Believe it or not, it’s not always easy to tell if your water has broken. If you only experience slight wetness or a measly trickle of fluid, you might confuse it with urine or discharge. Sometimes your health care provider will need to physically examine you in order to determine if you are actually leaking baby juice. If you suspect, it’s very important — even if you’re not convinced — to get it checked out. A baby living within your ruptured membranes has a much greater risk of developing infection, and so do you. So get in to see someone as soon as possible, and don’t be afraid to ask for an examination.
So if we don’t even know it's happened, then, what chance do we have of knowing when it’s about to happen. If only there was a definite sign, imagine for a moment how organized (and dry!) we’d be. You might have the chance to get to the toilet, retrieve that fluffy towel from your handbag, or even get that kitchen sparkling first. But alas, there really is no definitive set of clues because labor is different for everyone. We just have to wing it really, which I guess makes good practice for motherhood.
7 Hind-Water Before Fore-Water
This might sound like a game of football, but I can assure you that your water breaking is no day out at the park. Once your water has gone, labor can become more painful, contractions stronger, back pain harsher, and I'm afraid that’s just the start of the showdown.
Mother Nature, however, seems to have found a way of breaking you in gently, which is actually really nice of her. A hind-water leak is one such kick-off and is “where a small hole opens up in the sac behind the baby’s head”. A hind-water leak can stop of its own accord, because the hole can be resealed by the layers of the membrane. It’s only when the sac breaks in front of the baby’s head that you get the rush of fluid called the fore-water.
So if you experience a dribble, then nothing for several days, just thank Mother Nature for giving you advance warning for the waterfall. And as for that showdown ahead? Well, we all know it’s worth it in the end.
6 Problems With #2s
Some women swear that binging on hot curry can bring on labor. What they seem to have forgotten, though, is that the unfortunate side effects of too much spicy food — especially when you’re nine months pregnant — are heartburn and the runs. Lovely. It’s probably not a good idea, then, to eat a vindaloo if you’re normally a korma kind of gal. But if you choose to do it anyway, don’t be too disappointed if, instead of a bouncing baby, all you get is diarrhoea. Why is that, I hear you ask?
Because during the early stages of labor, your body releases a hormone-like substance called prostaglandins, which can “hyperstimulate the bowels”. So if you feel a sudden urge to poop, it might not be the curry talking, and it might not be long before your water breaks. Don’t worry about pooping during delivery though. Having diarrhea early on cleans out the bowels before delivery. Phew!
5 When A Doctor Steps In
Although doctors agree it’s best to let nature take its course, in some circumstances, a labor must be induced by your caregiver. There are many different ways that induction can take place, including a membrane sweep, a dose of prostaglandin, or an Artificial Rupture of Membranes (ARM), otherwise known as an amniotomy. With an ARM procedure, at least you’ll know that the gush is fast-approaching, but there is a down side. The Centre for Clinical Effectiveness in Monash University, Australia, found that there was a higher risk of infection, as well as other complications, when the water is broken by the doctor or the midwife.
Routine use of ARM, therefore, is no longer recommended, even to speed up labor. Yes, there is consensus that contractions speed up (and become more intense!) once the water is broken, but there’s little evidence to say that a shorter labor is more beneficial. In fact, there is more of a chance of caesarean section, and other complications, when your water is broken artificially.
4 Infection And Ejection
Premature rupture of your membranes can sometimes be caused by an infection in your bladder or kidney, cervix or vagina or in another of your lady parts. It’s important to let your doctor know immediately if you experience symptoms during pregnancy, such as a high temperature, a flu-like illness, pain in your back, side or tummy, or any vaginal bleeding. This is because your water acts as protection for baby, and when its gone and you have an infection, the baby has a high risk of contracting it, too.
If you do have an infection, you may need a course of antibiotics, or depending on how far along you are, steroids, contraction suppressants, or synthetic induction hormones. If you’re past 37 weeks, it’s best to deliver sooner rather than later.
The most common infection during pregnancy, which can trigger your water breaking, is a urinary tract infection. Reduce your chances of developing one by drinking lots of water, keeping your bottom nice and clean, sipping cranberry juice with no-added-sugar, and emptying your bladder when you pee.
3 A Bloody Good Show
Now we’re really getting down to business. No matter how gruesome this sounds, a sign that baby’s coming and that she’s keen to get out of her water sac, is your mucus plug dislodging or you see a bloody show in your knickers. And although there’s no set-in-stone order for the many different symptoms of early labor, losing your mucus plug (with or without a little blood) can certainly suggest that your water breaking is none too far away.
Your water might break at the same time as the show, it might break a few minutes, or even days, later, or it might not break at all. But if you do experience the bloody show then it’s probably time to get that towel ready just in case. One lady shares her story in an online pregnancy forum. She reports, “I lost mine on a Saturday and then was thrown into labor... on... Wednesday... when my waters came Niagara falling.” Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
2 Feeling Drained?
Are you still with me? Or do you need to have a little rest? You poor thing, I understand. When pregnancy hits, so do the waves of exhaustion. In the first trimester, your body is getting used to the whole baby situation and this requires a lot of energy, especially if you’re still at work. By the third trimester, though, you’re tired for different reasons. This is predominantly due to the extra weight you’re carrying around with you, but also because you can’t get any sleep because baby’s kicking you in the rib cage all through the night, or you need to get up to pee every five seconds. Sigh.
But just when you think your tiredness can’t get any worse, many women report feeling extra tired on the day their water breaks. So if you’re close to your due date and you really can’t get out of bed, maybe its best to just listen to your body. So pop a waterproof sheet underneath your butt, get a good book to read, and snooze all day. After all, this might be your last chance for a while!
1 You Just Know It
You don’t have to be psychic to get that funny feeling inside when you know something’s about to happen. And according to many, this is especially the case with mothers and mothers-to-be. When it comes to their baby, they just know! Yes, some cynics might say that the bursting round stomach, the dropped position of the baby, or your hideous swollen feet might well suggest you're about to pop. But we mother-figures know there’s a lot more to it than that.
Mother’s Intuition implies a connection between mother and child whereby the mother experiences a’ gut feeling’ in relation to the way she should parent. The science behind this special bond has actually been well documented, and it may now be explained by the fact a mother carries the DNA of her child inside her brain. If this is the case, then it’s not unreasonable to think that you might know when you're about to go into labor. So listen carefully to your gut and you might just predict when that water will come a rushing. Best of luck!