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All about water breaking

by Content Editor
All about water breaking

Sign that the childbirth is close, the rupture of the water bag at term raises many questions for future moms. Update on this phenomenon.

Table of contents

How do you know if your water has broken?

As their term approaches, all women wonder where and how their water will break. On the couch, in the middle of the night or the street, the rupture of the membranes can occur at any time, even if in practice. It takes place most of the time in the maternity hospital. At term, the volume of amniotic fluid represents between 1 and 1.5 liters. This means that if you lose this amount of fluid, you will quickly notice. You will even feel very wet!

Can my water break gradually?

It is sometimes difficult to know if your water is breaking because, at the end of pregnancy, vaginal secretions are more critical. Sometimes, the sac can crack, which leads to a slight discharge over several hours. Amniotic fluid is not challenging to recognize. It is 90% water, transparent and odorless.

Spontaneous breakage of the water

If you are at full term, water loss means typically that labor is about to begin. Surprising as it may seem, we still do not know today what mechanism causes the rupture of the membranes in the absence of labor. However, it is still true that the water often breaks spontaneously under the effect of contractions when the cervix is dilated between 2 and 5 cm. You must go to the maternity hospital without delay in all cases because the baby is no longer protected against infection. In addition, it can happen, in very rare situations, that the umbilical cord slips into the vagina in front of the baby’s head. The risk is that the umbilical cord is compressed and deprives the child of oxygen. It is called cord prolapse.

How to break the water bag artificially?

The water bag helps the dilation of the cervix. But if labor stalls, the midwife can provoke its flow by piercing it with very fine forceps. Don’t worry; this action is entirely painless for our baby and us. Once the water breaks, the contractions generally become more intense. The baby’s head, which is no longer protected by the amniotic fluid, descends and, in turn, presses on the cervix.

The artificial rupture of the water bag also releases prostaglandins which help to accelerate dilation. However, if the labor progresses favorably, it is not necessarily necessary to pierce the water bag. This will burst spontaneously at the time of expulsion and will then facilitate the exit of the baby. It sometimes happens that the child is born covered with part of its amniotic membrane. The baby is said to be “capped.” A sign of luck, this impressive phenomenon remains extremely rare. Note that in the case of a Caesarean section, the water bag is broken artificially, and the liquid is immediately sucked out before the baby is extracted.

Water breakage: your testimonies

“For my first baby, my water broke at home, on my bed. I was busy writing when I felt a small tear in my lower abdomen. I immediately felt that something was happening. The discharge was sudden, as if I was peeing myself. I went to the bathroom (just in case!), and finally, I could see that the amniotic fluid was running down my legs! So I went to the maternity ward, and labor started spontaneously a few hours later.” Aeneas

“My first daughter came after term. My water broke in a big sports shop in Paris. It happened out of the blue while I was wandering through the aisles. I was humiliated at the time. We left immediately for the clinic. Fortunately, my suitcase for the maternity ward had already been waiting in the trunk of the car for several weeks. This rocky start to the birth did not prevent me from ending with an emergency cesarean section after 10 hours of labor. Karine


The rupture of the amniotic sac is referred to as water breaking. It is a vital indication of labor, indicating that your baby is on the verge of being delivered. Your water can rupture before or during delivery. Occasionally, other factors might cause your water to burst prematurely. In rare situations, even if you’ve been in labor for an extended period, your water may not break.

If you believe your water has burst, contact your physician immediately. Even if you are weeks away from your due date, you may need medical treatment.

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