How to Tell If Your Water Broke & Signs that Labour Has Begun
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The idea of pregnancy and motherhood is every woman’s dream. But with the progression of pregnancy, the stress of childbirth manifests itself. The more beautiful the idea of motherhood is, the more frightening childbirth can feel. As birth approaches, expectant mothers begin to look for answers to the question marks in their minds. One of the curious events is the beginning of the birth, with the water leaking during pregnancy.
Know the signs
There are several signs that labor might be starting, including:
- contractions or tightenings
- a “show,” when the plug of mucus from your cervix (entrance to your womb or uterus) comes away
- an urge to go to the toilet, which is caused by your baby’s head pressing on your bowel
- your waters breaking
The early (latent) stage of labor can take some time.
Your baby is in your womb, in amniotic fluid. This liquid allows your baby to move quickly in the pouch, protects the baby against the blows and traumas that may come to the mother’s abdomen, prevents the cord from being squeezed, protects the baby against infections, and ensures a healthy development.
What mothers-to-be define as water is amniotic fluid. During pregnancy, the mucus-like structure, which covers the cervix and acts as a stopper, cannot withstand the pressure and throws itself out; It causes the amniotic fluid, that is, your water, that accompanies your baby for nine months, and after a while, the birth begins. Since it is normal to start labor between the 37th and 41st weeks, don’t worry about your water leaking in these weeks.
Call your midwife or maternity unit if:
- your waters break
- you have vaginal bleeding
- your baby is moving less than usual
- you’re less than 37 weeks pregnant and think you might be in labor
These signs mean you need to see a midwife or doctor.
Leaking Amniotic Fluid During Pregnancy - Is it Normal?
Leaking water during pregnancy does not cause any problems in the last weeks, that is, between 37-41 weeks, because the baby has completed its vital development in the mother’s womb and is ready for birth.
As every woman and the pregnancy process experienced are different, water leakage may be different for every expectant mother. This difference depends on how the membrane is torn and how much it is torn. If the membrane is torn from the top of the uterus, little and slow water will come in. In this case, the expectant mother may not understand that her water is leaking by mixing it with the vaginal discharge.
If contractions and pain are experienced with continuous or infrequent fluid, it is very soon before the start of labor. The area you sit in, your clothes, and your bed can get wet with water leaking during pregnancy. To summarize;
- The water may come by dripping like a slow leak or, in sporadic cases, by a violent gush. Your clothes or bed may get wet when the water comes in.
- Since the baby’s development is considered complete at 37 weeks, the probability of water leaking in between 37 and 41 weeks is high.
- It is not mandatory as there may be a pain when the water comes in or before it comes. The absence of pain does not mean that the water is not leaking.
- Watering during pregnancy is not always severe. It can come in the form of leakage or drip during pregnancy. You may confuse this with discharge or incontinence. In such a case, consult your doctor in any doubt, as it is difficult to distinguish it.
What is the Difference Between Urine and Vaginal Discharge?
The leaking of amniotic fluid feels like water is pouring down your legs. In case of water discharge during pregnancy, the color of the liquid is clear and bright like water, and the vaginal discharge is different in color and like a stain.
In addition, if the flow of fluid continues at certain intervals and the fluid does not stop when you contract your pelvic muscles, it means that amniotic fluid is leaking. If the membrane has ruptured near the cervix, it will cover the cervix because your baby is upside down. For this reason, the fluid flow is low while standing and sitting, and the fluid flow increases while the mother is lying down.
How Long After the Water Breaks During Pregnancy Does Childbirth Begin?
Water that comes before the 37th week of pregnancy may be a harbinger of early delivery. In general, the birth occurs within two days after the water comes. Sometimes this period can be much shorter, and delivery can occur within 12-24 hours.
To prevent the baby from getting an infection through the ruptured amniotic sac, most doctors prefer to induce labor within 24 hours if the expected due date is near. Some prefer to initiate labor after 6 hours. Therefore, inform your doctor as soon as possible as soon as you realize that your water has come.
What Should Be Done If Water Comes During Pregnancy?
- If a mild or severe discharge comes from the vagina, a tampon should be made with a towel, and the doctor should be called.
- Try to keep the vaginal area as clean as possible to prevent infection.
- You should not have sexual intercourse.
- A sanitary napkin can be used to hold the fluid.
- After the water comes, you can take a shower.
- If there is a situation such as noticing the baby’s umbilical cord in the vagina, you should go to the hospital urgently.
In this process, since the uterus and the baby are susceptible to catching germs, it is necessary to go to the hospital immediately when the water comes out or when it is suspected. Some pregnant women delay going to the hospital because their pain or labor pains have not started even if the water comes out. This may cause the mother and her baby to contract certain diseases.
What Does It Mean If Amniotic Fluid Is Dark In Color?
Amniotic fluid is a liquid that has a transparent color. The dark color of the amniotic fluid probably indicates that the baby’s first stool, the greenish-brown meconium, is made in the womb and mixed with the amniotic fluid. Meconium is the baby’s first stool after birth. However, in cases where the baby is stressed in the womb or spends the day expected to be born, it may be excreted before birth and mixed with the amniotic fluid. The mixing of meconium into the amniotic fluid is very dangerous for the health of the baby. Since there is a risk to the baby’s life, the doctor should be informed immediately if such a situation is encountered.
What Does It Mean to Have a Leaky Water During Pregnancy?
If the sac containing the amniotic fluid is torn from the upper region and in abrasion, the amniotic fluid flows in the form of leakage. Therefore, the mother may think that she is leaking urine or feels wet due to the discharge.
Amniotic fluid does not become thick and dense like discharge. It has a fluid structure like water and has the color of light yellow or linden tea. Since it does not leave a layer on the laundry like a discharge, it does not cause urinary incontinence, coughing, or contraction. It has a unique smell.
Considering these differences, it is possible to compare the situation and distinguish whether the wetness is related to the opening of the pouch. The doctor should be contacted as soon as there is a suspicion of leakage of amniotic fluid during pregnancy.
What to Do In Case of Early Water Discharge During Pregnancy?
Before the time, that is, before the 37th week of pregnancy, the arrival of water means a sign of premature birth. In such a case, since the baby is considered premature, there is a possibility of complications that require urgent intervention.
In this process, since the baby is not yet developed, the early arrival of water may cause germs and infection. It is necessary between the 24th and 37th weeks to keep the baby in the womb as much as possible. Even a few days is critical in this regard because in cases where preterm birth can be predicted, a lung-enhancing injection can be applied to the baby. Each hour spent following the application of the lung-enhancing needle reduces the possibility of respiratory distress that the baby may encounter after birth. Therefore, it is vital for the baby. If the amniotic fluid has arrived before the expected due date, a doctor should be called immediately, with or without pain.
What do contractions feel like
When you have a contraction, your womb tightens and then relaxes. For some people, contractions may feel like extreme period pains.
You may have had contractions during your pregnancy, particularly towards the end. These tightenings are called Braxton Hicks contractions and are usually painless.
Your contractions tend to become longer, stronger, and more frequent as your labor progresses. During a contraction, the muscles tighten, and the pain increases. If you put your hand on your abdomen, you’ll feel it getting harder; when the muscles relax, the pain fades, and you will feel the hardness at ease.
The contractions are pushing your baby down and opening the entrance to your womb (the cervix), ready for your baby to go through.
Your midwife will probably advise you to stay at home until your contractions become frequent.
Call your midwife or maternity unit for guidance when your contractions are in a regular pattern and:
- last at least 60 seconds
- come every 5 minutes or
- you think you are in labor
Backache often comes on in labor.
You may get backache or a heavy, aching feeling.
A "show" can signal the start of labor
During pregnancy, there’s a plug of mucus in your cervix. This mucus comes away just before labor starts or in early labor, and it may pass out of your vagina. This sticky, jelly-like pink mucus is called a show.
It may come away in 1 blob or several pieces. It’s pink because it contains a small amount of blood.
If you’re losing more blood, it may be a sign something is wrong, so phone your hospital or midwife straight away.
A show indicates that the cervix is starting to open. Labour may quickly follow or may take a few days. Sometimes there is no show.
What happens when my waters break
It’s likely your waters will break during labor, but it can also happen before labor starts.
Your baby develops and grows inside a bag of fluid called the amniotic sac. When it’s time for your baby to be born, the sac usually breaks, and the amniotic fluid drains out through your vagina. This is your waters breaking. Sometimes when you’re in labor, a midwife or doctor may offer to break your waters.
If your waters break naturally, you may feel a slow trickle or a sudden gush of water you cannot control. To prepare for this, you could keep a sanitary towel (but not a tampon) handy if you’re going out and put a protective sheet on your bed.
Amniotic fluid is clear and pale. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell amniotic fluid from urine. When your waters break, the water may be a little bloodstained, to begin with.
Tell your midwife immediately if:
- the waters are smelly or colored
- you’re losing blood
This could mean you and your baby need urgent attention.
If your waters break before labor starts, call your midwife. Use a sanitary pad (not a tampon), so your midwife can check the color of the waters.
If labor does not start after your waters, break.
It’s usual to go into labor within 24 hours of the waters breaking. You’ll be offered an induction if you do not because, without amniotic fluid, there’s an increased risk of infection for your baby.
Until your induction, or if you choose to wait for labor to start naturally, tell your midwife immediately if:
- your baby moves less than usual
- there’s any change in the color or smell of any fluid leaking from your vagina
You should take your temperature every 4 hours when you’re awake and tell your midwife if it’s raised. A raised temperature is usually above 37.5C, but you may need to call before this – check with your midwife.
No evidence having a bath or shower after your waters have broken your risk of infection, but having sex might.
How to cope when labor begins
At the beginning of labor, you can:
- walk or move about, if you feel like it
- drink fluids – you may find sports (isotonic) drinks help keep your energy levels up
- have a snack, if you feel like it
- try any relaxation and breathing exercises you’ve learned to deal with contractions as they get stronger and more painful – your birth partner can help by doing these with you
- have your birth partner rub your back – this can help relieve pain
- take paracetamol according to the instructions on the packet – paracetamol is safe to take in labor
- have a warm bath
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