We all know the scene. A heavily pregnant person is walking around in a grocery store when all of a sudden:
“I think my water just broke!”
Cue everyone running around frantically and ushering the newly laboring person to the nearest hospital.
At least this is how it is portrayed by Hollywood. But did you know that only 10% of people experience their water breaking before the onset of labor? And typically when it does break, it is not nearly as dramatic (What do you expect from Hollywood?)
The medical term for this is Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM). I tell you that because I was very confused by the medical jargon when this happened to me, before my days as a doula!
So what do you do if you are part of that 10 percent like I was? Remember your C.O.A.T
Color: What color is the fluid? The fluid should be clear or straw-colored. If it is tinged brown or green, this could mean your baby has passed their first stool, which could indicate fetal distress.
Odor: What does it smell like? Amniotic fluid does not have a distinctive odor, though many describe it as smelling slightly sweet.
Amount: How much fluid is there? Did it come out in a gush? Is it coming out as a slow leak? Pro-Tip: You may want to put on a large pad or adult diapers at this point.
Time: Note the time that you realized your water broke. While the risk of infection is low, there is an increased risk of infection once membranes are ruptured and many providers will want to keep track of how long it has been since they ruptured.
Next: Call your provider. They will ask you about everything above and advise you on what steps to take next. This will vary between providers. Some will advise you to come to the hospital to test the fluid to confirm that it is, in fact, amniotic fluid, at which point they may admit you. You may be offered the option of medical induction. Other providers may advise you to stay home and wait for contractions to start. If you are having a homebirth, call your midwife and they will decide when it is appropriate to join you.
Most people will have their babies within 24 hours of their water breaking. Get ready to meet your baby!