Are my Waters Leaking

During pregnancy, your baby will be cushioned in your womb in a bag of amniotic fluid. This is more commonly referred to as your “waters”. Usually your waters will break as you are in labour and getting ready to give birth though some will find their waters break before labour has even begun. For some, like myself, waters break prior to full term gestation (before 37 weeks) and medical intervention, such as a sweep or a caesarean section, may have to take place if labour doesn’t automatically follow within around forty-eight hours of your waters breaking.

If you’re full term (37 weeks pregnant or more) then there’s no need to panic when your waters break; in fact it’s time to get excited that your baby is on their way! Some women will experience a sudden gush of waters which can be a shock but it’s really nothing to worry or be concerned about. Others will experience their waters slowly trickling, in which case you can put a sanitary towel in your underwear for protection (do not use tampons). Note that the waters should be a clear, orange or yellow colour and that green, brown or blood in your waters indicates that you need to seek immediate medical assistance.

You should call your doctor or midwife to arrange being seen as a priority to see what’s going on down there. It may be that the doctor or midwife wants to see you immediately or it may be that they are satisfied for you to stay home and see if labour progresses naturally over a set period of time (this can unfortunately be dependant on how busy the labour ward is). In the mean time, do not shower or bathe as ruptured membranes can let in infection which may be detrimental to your unborn child’s well being. Your doctor or midwife will give you clear instructions on what to do in your specific circumstances.

If you are less than 37 weeks pregnant when your waters break then you should seek immediate medical attention. Depending on how far progressed your pregnancy is and how well your baby is doing, the doctors may want to either induce labour or try to put it off for a short time. When a premature arrival is suspected, doctors may administer steroids in an attempt to help the baby’s lungs to mature in case of an early arrival. Policy varies from hospital to hospital but in my case, when my waters went early, at thirty-five weeks gestation, the hospital stated that their policy was to induce labour within 48 hours of the waters breaking because of the risk of infection.

Before panicking that your waters have broken prematurely, do get checked out by a qualified medical professional to be certain that it is indeed your waters that are leaking. Quite a lot of women experience the embarrassing but rather common problem of bladder weakness; especially in the final trimester. It’s not unheard of to find that urine leaks out when you least expect it to which is easy to mistake for amniotic fluid. If you’re in any doubt, you should get yourself checked out by a medical professional.