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
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!
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 OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind this website Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I’ve helpd hundreds, if not thousands, figure out if their water was broken — so I really an expert on this.
I’d love to help follow you through your pregnancy with some helpful tips too!
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.
But, let’s talk more about water breaking….
If you’re here — you likely have a LOT of questions and labor. The sad news is that your doctor really can’t go through ALL the things with you, but taking a prenatal class can get you both more prepared for what you’re going to experience. The Online Prenatal Class for Couples can be done entirely on your own schedule in just 3 hours time. It even GUARANTEES to get you more prepared (or your money back). It’s such great resource, buy it today!
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 pee (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).
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.
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!
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.
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 if 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. 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.
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 have premature rupture of membranes (or think you do) 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).
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).
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 a chance 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.
Can bad things happen after it breaks?
If anything comes into your “va-jay-jay” 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.
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 talk all about these types of helpful tips in The Online Prenatal Class for Couples, and the best part is your partner gets prepared too — so they can help out more, and not just be a cheerleader! Get them on your TEAM!
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.
Once again — this type of info is exactly what’s in this online prenatal class (some people call it a birth class, hospital class or childbirth class). 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.
Or, if you’re not sure you’re ready — I have a quick birth prep kit that you might enjoy:
This post was originally published in March 2014, and has since been updated.