Water breaking is essential for a vaginal delivery after 37 weeks of pregnancy, followed by active labor. Water break could be a sudden gush or a slow trickle of water. Contractions usually start afterward, but they could also be delayed, which is normal. An early water break is termed PPROM. If your contractions don’t start in 24 hours, you should immediately rush to your nearest hospital.
Water breaking is considered a huge moment and event during pregnancy as it signals your baby is ready to arrive into this world along with labor.
In medical terms, it means breaking the amniotic sac that surrounds the fetus and contains amniotic fluid.
After you witness your water breaking, contractions begin as mild and then increase in intensity so the baby can finally come outside.
But sometimes, women don’t feel anything after their water breaks. While it’s perfectly normal not to feel anything right after your water breaks, you might need medical attention if nothing happens for a long time.
Let’s see what to do after your water breaks and you don’t feel any contractions.
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How do I know my water broke?
Quite a lot of people have this image in their mind, usually seen on television shows, that when your water breaks, you witness this sudden gush of water. But that’s not how it normally goes.
For some women, water breaking is very subtle; they might not notice their water breaking much later when they start feeling the contractions.
Sometimes, your water might not even break at all and might happen during labor instead. Or it has to be broken by your doctor, although the possibility of that happening is rare.
Color and odor
To tell if your water broke, look at its color and odor of it. Amniotic fluid doesn’t smell like pee and tends to be colorless or slightly sweet smell.
It’s also pale and straw-colored and is different from a vaginal discharge which is thin and white.
Stand up test
You could also tell if your water broke by standing up, which will make amniotic fluid leak more.
If there’s continuous fluid leakage over time than a single gush of water and it resembles the color and smell mentioned above, it’s more likely your amniotic fluid.
Another fact about water breaking is that it’s not painful since the amniotic sac doesn’t have pain receptors.
What happens after my water breaks?
So, after confirming your water indeed has broken, you would want to know what happens next.
You would think your labor would start immediately, but that’s not always true.
Sometimes cervix takes time to open, so your contractions won’t start immediately. Maybe your body needs more time to prepare for the baby to come out.
Either your body is in the early stages of labor, or first-time moms take 12-18 hours for their contractions to kick in.
Other reasons could be that your contractions are mild, and you can’t notice them yet. Don’t worry, the intensity of contractions increases with time.
What you should be doing after your water breaks is calling your doctor immediately. They mostly advise you to stay home until your contractions start and you have reached a certain point to arrive at the hospital.
As you wait for labor to kick in, you could rest, take short walks or focus on other ways to relax.
It’s also essential to take care of the situation down there as water breaks because that increases the chances of infection.
You should wear a pantyliner or a pad to soak up the fluid that constantly leaks for some women, but don’t use tampons.
Also, carefully wipe from front to back after using the washroom, and don’t engage in any sexual activities.
Remember that your contractions or labor should start within 24 hours of your water breaking. If that doesn’t happen, your doctor must intervene to study the situation.
When to call your doctor immediately?
There are different situations under which water breaking isn’t a good sign, or you might need immediate medical help.
- The fluid smells bad or appears to be green or brown, indicating the baby had a bowel movement in the uterus
- Mom has tested positive for group B strep during pregnancy
- Mom hasn’t reached full term
- Mom can feel something in the vagina or see the umbilical cord hanging out
What if my water breaks too early?
Your water shouldn’t break before hitting 37 weeks of pregnancy; if it does, it’s termed a preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM).
Though it’s not common for women to witness an early water breaking, it happens in about 2 to 20 percent of pregnant women.
Water could break too early, resulting in you suffering from PPROM, and depends on factors such as lifestyle choices or health concerns, including:
- Being underweight
- Having poor nutrition
- Smoking while pregnant
- Previous preterm births
- Experiencing vaginal bleeding in the second and third trimesters
- Being diagnosed with a short cervical length
You need to immediately call your doctor if your water breaks before 37 weeks of pregnancy. No matter if you start contractions or not.
How can I speed up my labor?
If your water breaks around the due date set by your doctor, you can do a couple of things to get your labor moving.
While it’s completely normal not to feel anything right after your water breaks as it takes your body some time to start contractions but if you want to speed up things, you could also:
- Get moving by standing up and walking around slowly. As you walk, it strengthens your contractions and also helps you cope with them.
- Go to the toilet with the help of someone and empty your bladder. Remember, you don’t need to do it by force. Sometimes our bladder could be full, and we don’t realize it, which could slow down labor.
- Laying down in a warm bathtub could also help, but you must ensure the right temperature. Also, getting into the water during labor has mixed reactions. So, do ask your doctor before getting into a bathtub.
- If your baby is lying back to back, some midwives may recommend laying on your side, kneeling, or standing in lunge positions. This may help your baby to rotate to a better position for birth.
Once your water breaks, call your doctor and seek their professional advice.
While these things seem to work for some women, they might not for you, depending on your pregnancy and health condition.
How long does it take for the cervix to open after water breaks?
After the water breaks, contractions might not start immediately. But within the next 24 hours, they should definitely start.
Sometimes cervix might take time to open and start labor as the body prepares for birth, but it shouldn’t take more than 24 hours.
Can you be in labor if your cervix is closed?
In the final days of the delivery, the cervix starts to soften and open up little by little. This is how your body prepares itself for active labor. If your cervix is still closed and firm, your labor hasn’t started yet.
Does your cervix have to open for your water to break?
If the cervix has opened to about 2-3 centimeters dilation and the baby’s head is low in your pelvis, your water will be broken.
Usually, it is followed by contractions which also happen gradually. You should enter labor after the water break within 24 hours.
How fast is delivery after water breaks?
It depends on a lot of factors, such as the kind of pregnancy you had and your health condition. Some moms give birth quickly and have babies in a couple of hours, while others might take longer.
You should be able to deliver within 24 to 48 hours.
What to do if the water breaks without contractions after 24 hours?
If your body isn’t able to go into labor on its own within the first 24 hours of your water breaking, then your doctor will have to induce labor.
How long does it take to dilate from 1 to 10 after the water breaks?
The timing might differ for each woman and depends on various factors. But usually takes about 5-7 hours for first-time moms or between 2 and 4 hours if you’ve had a baby before.
The journey to reach 10 cm is different for each woman.
Why am I having contractions, but my cervix is closed?
Contractions, while your cervix is closed, could signal you’re about to go into labor. Sometimes you start having contractions, but it doesn’t make your cervix change the way it would if your labor had started.
It’s known as uterine contractions without cervical change and is also known as prodromal labor. This means it’s considered an early sign of labor.