Rupture of Membranes
Claudia flipped off the television with a sigh. She had been bingeing on pregnancy films. The latest indulgence…’What to Expect When You’re Expecting’. What Claudia noticed was that there was a trend in these films: screaming and yelling, being rushed to the hospital, and whisked to labor and delivery in a wheelchair. Every single movie had a spontaneous rupture of membranes, with a flood of water descending from the body unexpectedly at random places. These occurrences perplexed Claudia. She wondered if she too would be subjected to her water breaking in the middle of the grocery store; and being whisked through a hospital in a wheelchair panting in pain. HOW will I know when my water breaks? Claudia inquizitabley thought to herself.
What Does Rupture of Membranes Mean?
Rupture of membranes is more commonly known as waters breaking or breaking of waters. What many do not know is that this phrase is plural because there are two sacs filled with amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby. The amnion (the inner layer of the sac) and the chorion (the outer layer of the sac). The chorion may rupture independently, leaving the amnion remaining intact. Both sacs are protection and barriers for the baby while in the womb.
How to Know When Rupture of Membranes have Occured
So, how can one know if their membranes have ruptured? There are some self-checks that can help to determine if the warm liquid you are feeling is your water or something else. Emptying your bladder and taking note of if the leaking subsides or continues. If it subsides, it may have been bladder incontinence. If it continues to leak, monitor the amount and whether or not contractions commence.
Another way to know if your water has broken is to lay down. After laying down, if the membranes have ruptured, the amniotic fluid will begin to pool in the vagina. When you get up the fluid will flow freely indicating a rupture of membranes.
Important Factors to Remember
While a rupture of membranes is one indication of an onset of labor, it is not the only indication. In fact, only 10-15% of waters break spontaneously. The other 85% are ruptured artificially. Some things to remember when the possibility of rupture of membranes is evident. Taking notice of the C.O.A.T: color, odor, amount, and time.
Color. Amniotic fluid most commonly can be clear, cloudy, ruddy, or black/green. Take note of the color, as amniotic fluid will be clear or cloudy (due to vernix). If the fluid is ruddy, that is an indication of blood. If the fluid is black or green, that is an indication that the baby had a bowel movement while in the womb and meconium is present.
Odor. What does the fluid smell like? Amniotic fluid has a musky odor to it.
Amount. How much fluid is displayed? Is the fluid continuously flowing? Does the leakage start and stop?,This could be a rupture and the baby may be covering the rupture with movement. In most cases once the membranes rupture, there will be no mistake that the burst or trickle that you feel are indeed your water. Take note of how much amniotic fluids are excreting from the body to b e able to share the information with your provider.
Time. What time did the rupture of waters happen? How much time has passed since the waters broke? This information is important due to the implications that the longer that the baby is in the womb with ruptured membranes, the higher the risk for infection, stress, and strain can occur in the baby.
When to Contact Your Provider
Whenever there is a concern of any kind, reach out to your provider. Facebook groups, Dr. Google, Instagram, and YouTube while great for entertainment and information should not be used to dictate levels of importance for ones’ pregnancy. Listen to your body and what the baby is telling you. If something feels “off”, it is something to take notice of. Your provider will provide the medical examination, and your doula will provide the emotional support you need.
In general, once waters have ruptured, stronger contractions are expected to follow. Because the amniotic fluid protects the baby, with the fluids no longer surrounding the baby, the contractions become longer, stronger, and closer together to assist the baby through the birth canal. If a rupture of membranes have occurred, but contractions do not begin or pick up, it’s important to note the C.O.A.T and contact your provider. Checking the status of the baby can provide a peace of mind warranted for continuing to labor in your most ideal way.
Claudia felt the anxiety rush of knowing that she had approximately 8 weeks to go until she welcomed her own baby, and the idea of delivering prematurely was on her mind. She was nowhere ready, and felt a little at ease understanding how her body and the baby worked together. Ultimately, understanding that ruptures of membranes happening at random times was less of a common occurrence than what the movies portrayed.
Keeping keen on how the body works, what the cervix does, and baby’s positions during labor can provide a peace of mind when instances like a spontaneous rupture of membranes occur.