This Is my Water Broken Quiz will help you figure out if your amniotic sac broke or if you just peed… even with or without contractions. It can be really hard to tell if your waters are leaking… We’ll talk about how long it can be before baby needs to get out, and how often it happens? Plus, what does water breaking look like?
Reminder: Please don’t take the advice on this website over the advice of your physician or a professional. This post is not medical advice.
This post includes (click to what ever area you’re interested in):
Table of contents
First off, how do I know so much about water breaking?
Hi, I’m Hilary — many people know me as The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of labor and delivery bedside nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind this website Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I’ve helped hundreds, if not thousands, figure out if their water was broken — so I really an expert on this.
Did my Water Break?
Everything changes those last few weeks of pregnancy, it can be REALLY hard to tell (I get it).
First off, let’s try a little quiz — that might give you an idea:
Did my Water Break Quiz
I’m going to give you a Is my Water Broken Quiz? to help you determine IF yours is — and then we’re going to talk about ALL The answers, as well as some common mis-conceptions about water breaking.
If your water IS broken, it’s time to call your doctor and pack your hospital bag. This is the big time! 🙂 FYI, You are still going to be sure that baby is moving as you do those things.
But, let’s talk more about water breaking….
It’s confusing, right — and it’s something you never really THOUGHT would be confusing — it sounds so cut and dry….
And frankly, labor in general is like that. Which is why I recommend taking a prenatal class so you just understand more (even though things SOUND simple it’s just not).
What does Water Breaking Look Like?
A lot of people wonder WHAT it is going to be like. Honestly, most people feel a small trickle of fluid that just continues (sometimes the baby’s head corks it off), however most women have a different “story”
It is a varied feeling among women — but let’s talk more about how to know that’s IT!
What will it feel like when my water breaks?
Some women say it feels like a pop and then a big gush of fluid.
Some women feel like it’s just like they’re peeing, but they can’t stop it.
It isn’t painful, unless it is accompanied by labor contractions (and it’s the contractions that hurt, not the breaking of the water).
What should I expect from amniotic fluid?
What does amniotic fluid look like?
Amniotic fluid is WATERY, it’s not thick and it isn’t normally bloody (but can have streaks of blood or mucus, that’s normal). If you do gush blood, you need to get yourself to the hospital, and if it’s a LOT you need to call 911, but amniotic fluid smells kind of like a public pool. A little chlorine-y, and a little bit like urine (because amniotic fluid is made mostly of baby pee).
The amniotic sac is a membrane that surrounds your bag of waters. It normally is pretty tough, but can break (obviously).
Your amniotic fluid does NOT look like mucus. That could be your mucus plug, but be mindful that discharge changes a lot towards the end of the third trimester — or closer to your due date. I have a whole post on if it’s discharge or your water breaking.
How much amniotic fluid will come out?
You may get a gush, you may get a trickle of water. Depending on where your on the “sac” it broke, it will gush or trickle. It is likely to dump more when you move, or when you go from sitting to standing. We call that a slow leak — when it’s only a little.
We go into detail about why that is in here.
When will the amniotic fluid stop coming out?
It will continue to come out. If you get a gush, and then absolutely nothing, you can probably thank your bladder. I’ve heard of pregnant women who had a “dry birth” and I’m not sure what that is. It does keep coming out, it’s baby pee. And in case you didn’t know it already — baby pee is in a seemingly endless supply!
Can I tell if my water is going to break?
Not normally, but I do have a post on the signs your water may break soon.
How to tell if your water broke or you peed
I JUST had this the other day. A lady came in to tell me that about 5 hours previously she had woken-up to a SOAKED bed and was sure her water was broken.
I asked her if she had any leaking since then, and she’d had none.
And her water hadn’t broken.
And frankly, guys – it’s not unusual.
Especially, it was her 3rd, she was older and she just didn’t have a “young” bladder anymore.
The big thing to watch for is if it KEEPS coming out.
Your amniotic fluid is made of mainly baby pee — so it KEEPS coming out. Coughing, or going from sitting to standing should elicit another gush.
I have a whole post on if your water broke or if you peed that you might find helpful.
Did my water break or is it discharge?
AS I said above — when your water breaks, it is super watery. Yes, you can have a trickle, but if you cough or change positions usually more comes out. Discharge is more constant and often thicker or white. However, at the end of your pregnancy it will likely thin out. BTW, I have a whole post on vaginal discharge during pregnancy.
This can be hard to tell — which is why we have the test I talk about next….
How to check whether your water broke
In order to REALLY know if amniotic sac ruptured — you will have to go to your doctor or to the hospital. Your Labor & delivery nurse can test it.
The hospital does have a definitive test to tell if your water has broken. It’s called Amnisure (other hospitals may use Ferning, and some may use Nitrazine paper as an initial test) — it is a very simple test. It isn’t something you want to wait and wait to decide if it’s broken, but you can certainly wait a couple of hours. Maybe shower, put on a sanitary pad and see if it’s still coming out.
If you THINK it might be broken, I’d call your doctor to see what they recommend. And yes, I do go all into contacting your doctor late at night in this class.
What to do if you can’t decide if your water is broken?
Sometimes there’s LOTS of fluid, and sometimes there isn’t much fluid (thanks to the baby’s head shutting it off) — and that can be confusing.
First off, put a call into your provider. Sometimes they don’t answer right away, and they might give you some good advice for your particular circumstances. This is definitely true if you are not yet full term. If you think have premature rupture of membranes, also called PPROM, call your provider immediately.
Second, put on a pad or panty liner on and do some stuff. Lay down and read for a bit, and then get up — does more come out? Most often it will (but not always) if it is amniotic fluid.
Tricks to Tell if Your Water Broke:
There are a few tricks you can try (I go over these and other tricks in the prenatal class for you):
Stand up (or lay down for a bit and then stand up). If your water is broken, most often you’ll get a gush of fluid that has collected in your vagina and runs out when you stand up.
One other time I see a lot of fluid come out is when women lift their hips up off the bed (most often they do it when we’re changing out something that’s under their butt). Often a lot of fluid comes out with that.
Cough — sometimes coughing will also make fluid come out (but also if you have a week bladder, it can make you pee instead, and no coughing won’t induce you).
What happens after my water breaks?
Water breaking itself isn’t all that exciting, but it normally does start “labor” — so, what REALLY happens after it breaks?
Pro Tip: Most nurses have to chart how long labor lasted, and we most often say that labour starts when your water breaks (especially if it did it naturally)
Will I go into labor after my water breaks?
Once your water breaks, contractions usually start in the next few hours. If you’re heading to 12 hours without contractions you can expect that your doctor is going to want to start you on some Pitocin (the other induction agents are limited once it is broken). There is an increased risk of infection now that barrier is broken. They’ll take your temperature frequently (enough to drive your nurse insane). An infection is the main concern if your fluid is broken for a long time. They also may start you on antibiotics after it’s been a while.
They will want to see you in active labor sooner, rather than later. Especially if you have certainly risk factors like group B positive (most providers call this the GBS test). Your risk of infection increases the longer your water remains broken.
BTW, you might be feeling some cramps and wondering when labor is going to start — all very normal! It is harder than you imagine to know if you’re in labor. In fact, I have a whole podcast on labor signs.
The thing is there can be some time between water breaking and labor really getting going, which is why I tell you what to do during that time in this class.
Can bad things happen after it breaks?
If anything comes into your vagina besides fluid from your uterus (or just your basic discharge — I’m talking about the umbilical CORD or an ARM), you need to get your butt in the air (hands and knees with your face in the floor, bum in the air) and call 911. The cord can slip out when your amniotic sac breaks and this can have serious consequences. Don’t take a shower, don’t have dinner. Call 911. The end.
If you feel something in your vagina, feel free to reach up and check
BTW, this is pretty rare, but it is certainly a pregnancy emergency. Talk with your provider if you have questions about this.
Things to take note of when your water breaks
If you know your water’s broken (and it’s often fairly obvious) check coat:
C — Color of the fluid (is it clear or green?)
O — Odor (does it smell funny?)
A — Amount of fluid (giant gush or a slow trickle)
T — Time (what time did it break, remember the clock starts going after your water is broken)
If you know this, they will answer most of the important questions your healthcare providers will ask.
And, when in doubt — call your health care provider or head into L&D.
I also have a whole podcast on how to tell if your water broke that you can listen to while you read:
And, of course a video too!
Water Breaking Common Questions
As long as nothing is hanging into your vagina (I’m thinking arm/leg/cord) — you can shower and change clothes, etc. No huge rush. If something IS hanging out you need to call 911 and get your butt raised above your head.
I see that a lot in “old-timey” books. I think that mostly happened when the water broke LONG before the baby is born. If you clean your house and check different positions for an hour to decide if it’s “for real” that isn’t going to be a “Dry birth.”
Also, amniotic fluid DOES keep coming out as long as baby is well and healthy (because it’s baby pee).
Yes, for sure. The baby continues to make pee — which is what most of amniotic fluid is made up of.
However, you’ve taken what WAS a closed system and opened it up to bacteria, etc. The chance of infection is highly increased once your water breaks for an extended period of time.
Yup, it sure can. I would recommend that women past 36 weeks are SURE they have a waterproof mattress pad. I have whole post on my sister site about if labor can start while you’re asleep.
Yes, as I mentioned above — as long as you don’t feel any-thing (hand, foot, or cord) hanging out — you’re good to shower. However, if you have any questions at all, call your doctor/provider first!
Yes, although it often is contractions that break it.
You can have a “high leak” — and your water will slowly leak out if that is the case. I talk about this a TON in this prenatal class (with images etc).
It can range from clear to greenish — if it’s anything but clear — I would note that to let your provider know.
It is surely not recommended. I also wouldn’t try it, you could really hurt yourself or the baby.
Not really? Contractions would be the only sign that it MAY break soon. Some women say they feel a “pop” and then fluid gushes out. Not much notice though.
Nope. Only about 15% of women have it break on its own before coming into the hospital.
Doctors can break water — and do it frequently to speed labor along.
You can also have the baby inside the water sack — it’s called a “mermaid birth”.
Who knows, some people have their water break prematurely.
Eating a well-rounded diet will help your water bag be as strong as it can be.
Yes, and I’ve heard it’s disconcerting….
This is VERY normal. Think of it as pushing on a full water balloon, and then how much harder it can push if the balloon had most of the water leaked out.
It could although I haven’t hread of this often.
I always recommend people wear a pad after about 36 weeks, have some towels in their car or at work and sleep with waterproof mattress covers.
Ok, now that we’ve talked ALL about that amniotic sac. And guys, that’s a pretty small part of the whole picture.
Come join me in The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. It is SO important to get prepared for your birth, but the traditional Tuesdays at 6 pm for 3 hour class just doesn’t work for families anymore — so I made my own. It really covers everything from bump to bassinet!
Or, if you’re not quite ready for the full class, check out my free prenatal class — It’s your first step towards being your own birth boss.
This post was originally published in March 2014, and has since been updated.
Love your TMI posts, ’cause I’m a nurse, and a mom, and that’s just me… 🙂
The ONLY time my water has broken was with #4, and then I still wasn’t having contractions 8 hours later, so I had to have pitocin. All the other times it was either broken for me to keep labor progressing or (once) broke when I was ready to push. So I’ve been all over the place with this, we’ll see how this time turns out…
Yeah it is pretty rare that water breaks on its own. I sometimes wonder what they did back on the farm… 😉
My water broke without starting active labor with #1. Five days before my due date. It was just a very small amount but kept coming. Thought it was a bladder problem at first and was very confused about what to do. Went into the hospital, took the paper test and sure enough, had a leak. They induced me. I had no idea it wasn’t always a gush when your water breaks!
Kay (A Ranch Mom) says
Ironically, the one time (out of five births) that my water broke on its own, it was 6 weeks early. It was just a leak, and I didn’t realize that’s what had happened. I was lucky that I had a dr. appt scheduled that day. By evening i was in a high risk pregnancy ward in a hospital in a bigger city.(with a NICU)I always suggest getting it checked if you’re not sure. They wont mind if its a false alarm. 🙂
The only time mine broke naturally was my first, I was 32 weeks and I knew it broke. It was q gush. Ended up in big hospital, stopped labor from happening with Magnesium Sulfate (which was in its trial phase and they didn’t know it worked yet) and induced 2 weeks later when risk of infection staying in outweighed risk of preterm delivery. He did great, 6 days in NICU and healthy almost 12 yr old n9w.
They’ve been using Magnesium for years, it’s miserable but it sounds like things worked out well. Mine never broke on its own.
Totally true, Kay, we’d much rather have a false alarm then an emergency when you get an infection!
I had a doctor who sent me home when they said only two of the three tests came back positive for my water breaking. Then 4 days later they sent me home again when I was in labor. 3 hours later at a different hospital and I started pushing. The doctor asked when my water broke. I told them what happened and that doctor said it had already broken and had to use vitamin E oil as there was no amniotic fluid left. Which by the way is so freak uncomfortable. So I have no idea as to what your water breaking is actually like even though I’ve obviously had it happen.
Wait, so you had positive tests? But they still sent you home? That’s odd. The beauty of amniotic fluid is that it keeps getting made. It’s mostly baby pee… as long as you don’t get an infection you’re good to go. 🙂
Did you mean “out of” instead of “into” in #6?
Into. The vagina will receive whatever the uterus expels. And you won’t be able to see that expelled discharge until it travels down the vagina, to reach outside to your vulval opening. So it’s into. The way oil flows into a bottle via a flannel.
This korning on toiket felt that that water break… was confused if i was weeing cause couldnt feel. Called midwife asked put pad on and hour later call her back…. It was one yellow dot on pad… she said she dont think its water… couple ours later came much more … its yellowish or greenish and looks a bit sticky, but not sure what to do ? Is it can be water vreaking? I am only 35 +2
Hilary Erickson says
Definitely a question for your provider. I can’t answer specifics like this. Good luck!