2023 Author: Anita Thornton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-07-31 02:08
At the cinema, the mother-to-be breaks her water on the sidewalk, in front of a witness, and doubles over under the effect of her first contraction. Is this impending delivery scenario realistic?
If you're worried that this is what will happen to you too – and avoid public outings in late pregnancy – don't worry: things rarely happen that way! Although in some cases the waters break before labor begins, most of the time it occurs when labor is well underway.
Breaking water: what does it mean?
In your womb, the fetus grows and evolves in a sterile environment, protected as it is by two membranes, commonly called the "bag of waters". This is where amniotic fluid is found. Together with the cervix and the mucous plug, these membranes form a barrier with the vaginal area, which is a source of germs.
At the end of pregnancy, under the effect of the cervix which dilates, the water bag, weakened, cracks like an egg! It is not painful and the rupture of the membrane is not accompanied by warning signs. When the pocket gives way, the famous amniotic fluidis evacuated. Breaking the waters also releases prostaglandin, a hormone that stimulates labor contractions. So usually when a woman's water breaks, the baby is ready to come out.
How do I know?
Amniotic fluid looks like very lightly tinted water - whitish in color - flowing out at body temperature, 37°C. It therefore does not smell or look like urine, and is more liquid than vaginal discharge. If your waters break “like in the movies”, you should realize it fairly quickly: the expectant mother usually loses the equivalent of a large glass of water (or more) of liquid. So even though vaginal discharge is common in late pregnancy (such as urinary leakage), remember that amniotic fluid leaks suddenly, all of a sudden.
I was going through my first pregnancy, I was 37 weeks old and the day before, my doctor had told me that I would go to my DPA, that nothing was happening on that side. So, the day after the doctor's visit, I'm about to go to bed when suddenly I "pee" on the carpet in my bedroom! I was so insulted! You know how we always want at the end of pregnancy? I said to my husband: Damn it! I just escaped on the carpet! I never thought for a single second that my water had just broken, the doctor told me that I still had 3 weeks left! It's 30-40 minutes later, when the contractions haveI started realizing what was going on, and again, I timed it for 45 minutes to make sure it wasn't fake contractions and that I wasn't making excuses for escaping on my beautiful mat!
It happens that the rupture of the pocket is not quite frank: we then speak of a crack. You might then notice that liquid drips out, when you move, without any particular effort being necessary. In these specific cases, it may be more difficult to tell the difference between amniotic fluid or urinary leakage. If this is your case, put on a sanitary napkin and walk. If the protection continues to fill, your waters are cracked. It's time to get ready to leave for motherhood!
The mucous plug and the bag of waters are not the same thing at all. The mucous plug is a kind of mucus that closes the cervix, to keep it tight. So, the loss of the mucous plug does not mean that labor has started or that your waters are about to break. This is simply a sign that your body is slowly starting to prepare for D-Day. In short, if you lose your mucous plug, there's no need to rush to the maternity ward!
Is baby on the way?
In most cases, the rupture of the water bag is accompanied by contractions and dilation of the cervix. Nevertheless, it happensalso that the delivery is delayed, a day or two. In all cases (rupture or simple crack of the pocket), even if you do not feel contractions, you must go to the maternity ward. It is then that the baby is no longer protected by its sterile cocoon and may be the victim of an infection. Do not worry, however: the liquid is renewed regularly until the baby is expelled and, in general, there is no problem.
Once in the maternity ward, the nurse or midwife will perform a test to make sure it is indeed a discharge of amniotic fluid. At the same time, she will check that baby is not about to be exposed to bacteria. If the bag of waters is well broken, you will be hospitalized: you will only have to wait for the arrival of the contractions. If these are delayed and have not appeared within 24 to 48 hours after the rupture of the membranes, the delivery will be initiated by the medical staff.
Before the term
80% of mothers-to-be will break their water after the 37th week of pregnancy: this is completely normal and without risk. Before this date, we speak of premature termination. This can mean premature delivery or baby infection. Depending on the stage of your pregnancy, the treatment varies.
Artificial rupture of the bag of waters
Sometimes the doctor decides to break the water bag artificially. This is what often happens when work stagnates. Thisprocedure, painless, is done using a membrane piercer: a kind of long rod with a lug. Usually, this act makes it possible to reduce the duration of childbirth by intensifying the contractions, without resorting to triggering hormones.
The morning I gave birth, my waters broke. It wasn't a particularly heavy flow, but, all the same, I filled a sanitary napkin. Since I didn't feel any contractions, I took the time to shower and change before heading to the hospital. Once there, all the tests turned out to be “inconclusive”. The nurse then lectured me: by washing and changing my protection, I had erased all traces of amniotic fluid – if it was indeed amniotic fluid. Unconvinced, she sent me walking, explaining to me that sometimes the baby's head is placed on the crack, preventing the liquid from coming out. After doing a few laps of the building, I was given a test again, which this time came back positive. Two hours later, I was holding my son in my arms.
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