What Does "Water Breaking" Mean?

What exactly happens when your water "breaks?"


The amniotic sac, the tough membrane that surrounds your baby in the uterus, spontaneously ruptures and the fluid leaks out. For some women, it’s a gush (your feet get wet!), and for others, it’s a steady trickle. Generally this happens late in labor, although for about ten percent of women, it happens early, sometimes as the first sign of labor.

If your water breaks at home, notify your caregiver, who will decide what steps (if any) to take. You'll be asked the color of the fluid (it should be clear) and whether or not it has a strong smell (it should be practically odorless). This information, plus the position of the baby at your last checkup, will help decide how long you can stay at home (if it's a hospital or birthing center birth) and wait for contractions to start. Generally, contractions will start within a couple of hours and labor will progress normally.

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