When Water Breaks
Labor is the moment when your baby’s head—or other body part—pushes through your vagina, marking the start of childbirth. However, labor usually begins before that moment with a “break” in your water (or “rupture of membranes”). This is called your water breaking, and it’s an exciting sign that your baby is on the way.
What does it feel like?
Your water will typically break when you’re in the active labor stage. You may feel a warm gush of fluid or a slow trickle from your vagina and wetness in your underwear. It can feel like a lot of pressure, much like the sensation of needing to pee. Get your ass to the hospital as soon as possible, because your medical team will want to confirm the fluid and check for signs of infection.
What do I do when my water breaks?
When your water breaks, you should:
- Call your doctor: Let your doctor know that your water has broken so they can determine if you should head to the hospital right away or wait it out.
- Put on a sanitary pad: Place a thick sanitary pad in your underwear to absorb the fluid.
- Go to the bathroom: Empty your bladder, then note the color and odor of the fluid. If the fluid has a strong, meconium-like odor and is greenish-brown, this could indicate that your baby has passed meconium within the uterus.
- Go to the hospital: As soon as your water breaks, you should go to the hospital. This is especially important if your doctor has determined that you need to arrive right away.
When can labor start?
You may start to feel contractions as soon as your water breaks or as much as 24 to 48 hours later. In each situation, you may still be in early labor, even if it feels like full-blown labor, so you don’t need to rush to the hospital just yet.
The team of provider will monitor you throughout labor, and will let you know when it’s time to push and when you should get ready to meet your little one.
In the meantime, relax and enjoy the moment. While it can be stressful, it’s a particularly special moment as you prepare to meet your baby.