What To Expect When Your Water Breaks During Pregnancy?

What To Expect When Your Water Breaks During Pregnancy?

11 Oct 2021 | 6 min Read

Sudeshna Chakravarti

Author | 799 Articles

As your due date approaches, you may constantly wonder when your water will break, what should be your immediate next action, and the right time to call your doctor. You may also be worried about being unable to differentiate between normal vaginal discharge and water breaking during pregnancy. But don’t worry, as we have got you covered with all the answers, including steps to take once your water breaks. So keep reading to learn more about this occurrence and what to do once your water has broken.

What Causes Your Water to Break?

“Water breaking” is when the amniotic sac that cushions your baby ruptures and the fluid inside flows out of your vagina. You will realise that your water has broken when the amniotic fluid, which is clear, thin, and odourless either leaks slowly or gushes out.

It is not known what triggers this chemical chain reaction that begins labour, typically around week 40 of pregnancy, but experts have pointed toward a number of complicated factors, including brain signals from the fetus. 

How Can You Tell If Your Water Breaks?

How Can You Tell If Your Water Breaks
You may experience contractions within the first 12 or 24 hours after your water breaks / Image credit: Freepik

It’s difficult to determine exactly how much fluid you will lose as your water breaks. It may feel like a stream of warm liquid that makes your underwear and possibly even your pants wet. But this occurs rarely, and you are more likely to experience a slow and steady trickle of fluid during water breaking.

Moreover, once your water breaks, you will notice a continuous drip of clear or pale yellow and odourless fluid up until your baby is born. You can consider wearing a pad until you arrive at the hospital or birthing centre. If you are unable to determine if your water has broke, call your doctor or head to the hospital right away so they can verify whether your amniotic fluid is actually leaking or not.

In the next section, we answer some of the most asked questions about your amniotic sac rupturing and how to tell the difference between pee and watery discharge.

Has Your Water Broken or Is It Vaginal Discharge?

Amniotic fluid appears as a pale or clear and odourless fluid. Vaginal discharge, on the other hand, has a milky-white and mucus-like appearance that is similar to but heavier than what you might experience in between your menstrual period. 

Additionally, water breaking is accompanied by a mucus-like discharge of pink or brown coloured blood, which indicates that your labour has begun. You may also lose your mucus plug during this time, which appears as a glob of mucus.

Is It Pee or Did Your Water Break?

Though many expecting mums leak urine, especially in their third trimester, a sniff will probably clue you in. If the fluid is yellowish in colour and smells of ammonia, it is probably urine. But if the fluid is clear and odourless, it is probably amniotic fluid.

Will Your Water Break Before You Go Into Labour?

You don’t have to worry too much about this happening. This is because, according to a study,  only 1 in 10 women experience the rupture of the amniotic sac before going into labour. So chances are you will have plenty of warning signs about labour, or you will already be in the hospital by the time your water breaks. 

What If You Don’t Have Contractions Even After Your Water Breaking?

If your fluid membrane ruptures before your labour begins, then you can expect to feel the first contractions within 12 hours, while others can expect them to start within 24 hours of the water breaking. In the meantime, you don’t have to worry about loss of amniotic fluid, as your body continues to produce it right up until you deliver your baby.

For some women, however, labour may take a little longer to begin. To prevent any kind of infection due to the ruptured amniotic sac, most healthcare providers induce labour within 24 hours (if you are close to your due date), while some induce labour as early as six hours after the rupture.

What to Do If Your Water Breaks?

What to Do If Your Water Breaks
Follow the instructions that your doctor has given and visit the hospital immediately if you experience any unusual symptoms / Image credit: Freepik

Your doctor would have probably given you a set of instructions to follow when your water breaks. Follow them, and if you have any concerns at any point in time, call your practitioner right away. 

If your doctor has instructed you to wait for the contractions over the next 12 hours or so, then you will need to consider guarding yourself and your baby against infection, as the protective barrier of the amniotic sac is now breached. Use maxi pads or panty liners (not tampons) to avoid your clothes from getting drenched and keep your vaginal area clean. 

What Happens If Your Water Breaks Early?

Water breaking after the 37th week of pregnancy before you go into labour is known as the prelabour rupture of the membranes. In this case, your labour will likely begin on its own within 12 hours, but if it doesn’t, your doctor will induce labour soon to reduce the risk of any kind of infection.

The fluid membrane rupturing before the 37th week of pregnancy is known as preterm premature rupture of the membranes (PPROM). In this case, you will require immediate hospitalisation for delivery to avoid infections and other pregnancy complications like placental abruption. 

Call Your Doctor Right Away If:

  • Your water breaks and the fluid looks brown or green in colour, which indicates that your baby had a bowel movement in the utero.
  • You are 37 weeks pregnant or less.
  • You experience a small-one time gush of fluid. This could indicate that your membrane has ruptured, but your baby’s head descended and stopped the leak. This event can increase the risk of infections, and hence you need immediate medical care.


Water breaking during pregnancy is an essential event that facilitates your labour and prepares your body for childbirth. While most times this occurs naturally, in some cases, your doctor might rupture the fluid membrane surgically to initiate your labour. 

If you have any concerns about your water breaking or are unaware of your next plan of action, then consult your healthcare provider for guidance and support.

Also read:

What to expect during vaginal birth: in this post, we give you a detailed overview of what happens during vaginal birth and the necessary steps to take after your water breaks.

Risks of induced labour: When should you consider inducing labour and what are its risks? Find out all the details in this post.

Exercises for inducing labour naturally: Check out these safe exercises that can help induce labour naturally and initiate contractions. 

Cover Image Credit: Freepik.com



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