How will you know when your water breaks? This is a common question among first time mothers. It’s not uncommon for mommies in their second, third or even fourth pregnancies to wonder about the water breaking.
Sometimes the water doesn’t break right away. With three of my four babies, the nurse or midwife broke it at the hospital. I had never experienced my water breaking in any of those labors.
It turns out; my experience isn’t all that uncommon. The water usually doesn’t break until after labor has started. It only happens before labor starts in about 10% of pregnancies. It is unlikely that you will be caught completely off guard.
It may seem like it should be obvious when the water breaks. We often have a picture in mind of a gush of water in the middle of the grocery store. In some cases, this is what happens. The fluid can come out suddenly and quickly, but this is not always the case.
For some women, the moment is far less dramatic. Sometimes the trickle is so slow it is mistaken for urine leaking. You may make a few trips to the bathroom before you realize that it is something else. This usually means that the baby’s head is engaged and blocking the fluid from coming out.
When I was in labor with my son, the nurse told me my water had broken prior to arriving at the hospital. I had no indication that this had happened. The only explanation I can imagine is that I had spent a good part of the early morning in and out of our Jacuzzi tub. The water must have broken slowly and went unnoticed.
If you still aren’t sure if your water has broken, call your doctor or midwife. Your health care provider can perform a simple test in the office to determine if your water has broken. This involves taking a sample of the fluid and testing it on litmus paper. If it is amniotic fluid, they will see a color change, showing the alkaline fluid.