Water breaking: Understand this sign of labor

Water breaking worries? Prepare yourself for childbirth by getting the facts about this important sign of labor.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you're pregnant, you might be curious about your water breaking — when it will happen, what it will feel like and what to do next. Recognize the signs of water breaking and know what it means for the timeline of your baby's delivery.

What will happen when my water breaks?

During pregnancy, your baby is surrounded and cushioned by a fluid-filled membranous sac called the amniotic sac. Typically, at the beginning of or during labor your membranes will rupture — also known as your water breaking. If your water breaks before labor starts, it's called premature rupture of membranes (PROM).

When your water breaks you might experience a sensation of wetness in your vagina or on your perineum, an intermittent or constant leaking of small amounts of watery fluid from your vagina, or a more obvious gush of clear or pale yellow fluid.

How can I be sure my water has broken?

It's not always easy to tell if your water has broken. For example, it might be difficult to tell the difference between amniotic fluid and urine — especially if you only experience a feeling of wetness or a trickle of fluid.

If you're uncertain whether your water has broken, consult your health care provider or head to your delivery facility right away. Your doctor or a member of your health care team will give you a physical exam to determine if you're leaking amniotic fluid. In some cases, an ultrasound might be done to check your amniotic fluid volume. You and your baby will be evaluated to determine the next steps.

Oct. 18, 2016 See more In-depth