Birth Facts - The Facts Around Your Waters Breaking
Is it labour or did I just pee myself?

The Facts Around Your Waters Breaking


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Is it labour or did I just pee myself?

In the movies, Labour usually starts in a very public place with a woman's waters breaking, followed immediately by her going into strong labour, getting rushed to the hospital where she pushes her baby out screaming at her husband! 

The reality is far from this! 

The breaking of waters is not necessarily the start of labour, in fact your waters can break at any stage of the labour. Sometimes it can feel like a 'pop' and other times it can be a constant trickle. There are quite a few myths surrounding your waters breaking so let's get clear on a few of the facts:

1. FACT: They can break at anytime

For some women the onset of labour occurs when their waters break, but this happens in only around 20% of births. It's more common for a woman's waters to break during active labour when regular contractions have been occurring for a while. There are many variations when it comes to birth so the best plan is just to be curious about what your body is telling you. Neither is right or wrong.

2. MYTH: Labour begins when your water has broken

Just because your waters have broken doesn't mean that labour will start straight away. It may be hours or even a day or two before contractions begin. This can be due to baby's position, hormonal factors or interventions that may have occurred. Sometimes women want things to get a move on and will try to encourage contractions to begin, but avoid wearing yourself out early because you will need that energy for later.

3. FACT: Infection is a factor

The amniotic sac (or bag of waters) is a very clever thing. It not only holds important fluid for your bay to float around in, it also acts a barrier to infections that can cause severe complications. As a general rule: once your waters have been broken the less things inserted into the vagina the better. When lots of internal examinations are performed it's possible to increase the chance of an infection because bacteria may be pushed upwards and potentially introduced through the cervix. Policy differs as to how long you can wait after your waters break and contractions begin – usually between 48 and 72 hours. After this time, your care provider may recommend induction of labour as the risk of you acquiring an infection is believed to be higher.

4. MYTH: Your water breaks with a big 'pop'

It can actually be harder than you think to tell if your waters have broken. You might feel a pop, or you might not. You may feel a rush of fluid, a trickle or simply wonder if you have peed yourself. You may feel all of the above or none at all! Sometimes women can have a hind water leak where the amniotic fluid trickles from the top of the amniotic sac (not down low where the babies head sits) and this fluid can trickle out over a few days and can sometimes be mistaken for your forewaters. Other women may experience a big 'pop' followed by their waters gushing out. If in doubt, call your care providers and they can advise you on what to do.

5. MYTH: You must go to hospital once your waters break 

If you believe everything you see on television you'd would think that as soon as those waters break you must jump in the car and race to the hospital. Whilst most hospitals may sometimes want to give you a checkup when your waters break, it's not a mad race to get there. Often women will go in for a checkup and be get sent home to wait for contractions to begin. Only if there isn't any progress within 24 to 48 hrs will you be asked to come back to help augment your labour. Each hospital and care provider has a different policy on this, so it's best to confirm with the directly.

6. MYTH: If you bounce around enough you can make your waters break 

As much as we would like to think that we have a little bit of control over birth, it's better to surrender to the fact that your baby is in control of this dance. Bouncing on a fit ball, driving over speed bumps or eating spicy curries will not send you into labour or make your waters break unless your baby is 100% ready and more than likely you are in some sort of pre-labour already. Your baby’s lungs reach a certain point of maturity, triggering a complex process that tells your body to go into labour. Being patient and trusting that your baby knows when it needs to be born pays off in the long run.

The number one thing to remember is that if you are ever in doubt contact your care provider and let them know what you think may be going on. Whether you have accidentally peed yourself or your baby is on its way, peace of mind often helps mums relax and allow the birth process to unfold.

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