What if my waters break?
Looking after yourself with broken waters
The bag of membranes or sac of waters (amniotic fluid) can rupture or break at any point before or during the labour process, even during the actual birth as the baby emerges. Your waters breaking is definitely a sign of prelabour and something your caregiver should be told.
There are two ways broken waters can present:
A slow trickle or leak
A big gush
A slow trickle or leak.
The sac can have a small opening in it so that the amniotic fluid only trickles out slowly over several hours or days. The water generally dribbles away intermittently with movement from you or your baby (or with a contraction). The water can also come away as a slow leak if your baby's head is very engaged. This is because the baby's head is sitting snugly over the cervix, letting only small amounts of fluid drain away.
Women who experience a slow fluid leak often find it difficult to know whether the fluid coming away is either urine or amniotic fluid. One way to tell is to be aware that amniotic fluid generally continues to drain away, even after you have emptied your bladder. If you notice water coming away, go to the toilet and empty your bladder and then put on a pad and see if any more fluid comes away over the next couple of hours.
Sometimes the smell of the fluid can also help you know. Amniotic fluid does not smell acidic, like urine. The smell is somewhat odourless, or has an almond-like or alkaline/chlorine aroma. Some people liken the odour of amniotic fluid to the smell of male semen. This can make it more difficult to tell if you have just had intercourse.