Water Breaking

When you are pregnant, your water breaking is one of those moments you might anticipate with both excitement and dread. Water breaking means that your baby will be born soon. But it also brings some uncertainty. What if your water breaks when you are in public? What if you think your water broke but it’s really just urine? What if your water doesn’t break and you go into labor anyway? These are some of the biggest concerns for pregnant women.

In most cases, your water won’t break until you are well into labor. In fact, only about 13 percent of women have to deal with the water breaking scenarios that you might dread. Here’s more information on what you can expect when your water breaks.

What does Water Breaking Feel Like?

What Is It?

While you are pregnant, your child is floating in an amniotic sac inside you. The sac is filled with fluid. When your water breaks, that means that the amniotic sac has ruptured. This is usually an indication that you are in labor or about to go into labor. If the water breaks around the time of your due date, but labor doesn’t begin soon after that, it’s often called “PROM” or premature rupture of membranes.

What does It Feel Like?

This is different for every woman. For many women, water breaking is just a bit of wetness between their legs, something that might make their underwear wet. It might be a small gush or a continuous trickle. For some women, there is the obvious gush that you might see in the movies. But remember, that’s rather rare. Here are some of the different sensations that you might experience when your water breaks.

Different Kinds of Water Break and How They Feel


How It Feels

The Gush and Splash

This might feel like a flood of water, a water hose between your thighs, a blast of water that doesn’t stop, or a water bucket being dumped from inside you.

The Pop

Some women might experience an audible “pop” when their water breaks. Then comes the water, which might be an immediate gush of water, followed by a trickling flow. It has been described as the cracking of a knuckle, a water balloon popping between your legs or a leak that gets worse every time you move.

The Trickle

For many women, this feels like you are urinating. It might be very slow, like sweat or normal discharge. You might be worried that you are dealing with urine, or pregnancy incontinence. In most cases, the slow leak will eventually become more, until you are certain that you are dealing with more than just urine.

The Middle Ground

This is not a gush, nor is it a trickle, but something in between. Many women say it feels as though you have started your period, or that it feels like a normal discharge, only a bit heavier than usual.

The Absent Break

This breaking of water feels like nothing at all. In many cases, labor will begin to hurt more, or you might not notice that your water has broken until you sit up and your clothes are wet. You might not even feel anything at all, but might look down and see that you are suddenly wet all over.

The Surprise Break

This is the kind of break that comes out of nowhere. You might wake up in the middle of the night and realize you are lying in a puddle of water, or you might sit up in bed and suddenly the water gushes out of you.


Sometimes the water breaking feels good, relieves pressure in your abdomen or makes you feel ready to push, especially if you have been in hard labor for a while. Many women report that this feels very good, serves as a break from the pain and might even make you laugh out loud at the sheer relief of it.

The Gusher

Sometimes water breaking can feel uncontrollable, with water pouring out of you in a way that seems it will never stop. Some women compare this to a very heavy period, a constant urination, and something so uncontrollable it’s hard to get up from the toilet in order to actually go to the hospital to have that baby.

What does It Look Like and Smell Like?

Amniotic fluid should have no smell; if it does, then you might have an infection of some kind, and you should mention it to your doctor right away. It should look like water. If it is colored yellow or green or has some other tint to it, that might mean that your baby is in distress. Again, this is something that you should let your doctor know immediately.

When does Water Break?

For most women, water breaking happens during the end of the first stage of labor. This is when the contractions get harder and you become more dilated. For most women, labor is already starting or starts immediately when water breaks. For some, water breaks long before labor, and is known as premature rupture of membranes. For women whose water breaks far too early, before 37 weeks or so, it is called preterm pre-labor rupture of membranes.

What Should You Do after Water Breaking?

The most important thing to do is stay calm! If you are in the hospital already, just let a nurse or doctor know. If you are at home or out somewhere, it is time to make your way to the hospital. You can use a sanitary napkin to catch the fluid, or opt for a thick towel to protect the seat of the car on your way there. Try to make it a white towel, as any discoloration of the fluid will show up and can alert the doctor to any problems.

What If Your Water Breaks too Early?

If your water breaks before 37 weeks, get to the doctor as soon as possible. He or she will need to evaluate your baby and make sure everything is okay. Since a baby can’t stay in the body for very long without adequate amniotic fluid, you will likely be allowed to go into labor. In most cases, women whose waters break early deliver within one week of the rupture of membranes.


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