7 Things That Don't Actually Happen When Your Water Breaks

by Kimmie Fink

Many pregnant women are understandably worried about their water breaking. After all, we've been conditioned to expect certain things thanks to movies and television. Unfortunately, those depictions aren't the most accurate. We know our babies are surrounded by a fluid-filled bag called the amniotic sac, but it's hard to know what happens when your membranes rupture until you've experienced it. That's why there are so many things everyone assumes happen when your water breaks that just plain don't.

At 4 a.m. on the day of my due date, I woke up to a trickle down my leg. I reached over, whacked my husband on the chest, and announced, "Something is happening!" Yep, that was my big revelation, you guys. "Something." I was pretty sure my water had broken, but it wasn't what I expected at all. My partner hopped out of bed to get me to the hospital, but when I called my midwife she said I should labor at home for awhile. What? Lady, "something" is steadily leaking out my vagina. What if my baby falls out?

Well, turns out she knew what she was talking about. Go figure, right? I didn't give birth to my daughter for another 29 hours (and there was no "baby falling out," as I can assure you I had to work really hard to bring that little one into the world). Even though my water breaking wasn't what I'd anticipated, at least holding my baby was everything I'd hoped for. And more.

That You're In For A Niagara Falls Flow Situation

I was definitely expecting my water breaking to be a big gush (and some women do experience that), so imagine my surprise when I what I experienced was more of a leaky faucet than a waterfall. Regardless of the strength of the flow, rest assured that you've only got about 600 milliliters in fluid in there. Nothing a few maxi pads can't handle.

That You'll Pull A "Splash Mountain" All Over Yourself

Although some women feel a pop followed by a rush of water, that's not necessarily going to happen to you. I'm not invalidating anyone's "open the floodgates" experience, but it's not universal. For me, it wasn't so much a "splash" as a "dibble dibble dopp" (incidentally, I've been reading a lot of Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?).

That You'll Be Embarrassed

Remember how nervous you were before you got your first period? Like you were sure it would happen when you were wearing white pants and talking to your crush. I'll bet that didn't happen. Likewise, it's not that it's impossible that it'll happen in Target, but it's unlikely. It happened to me at home, and for a lot of women it will happen in their hospital bed, sparing them any mortification.

That You'll Feel Like You Peed Yourself

As someone who has pissed herself on more than one occasion, I feel like I can speak with some authority here. You might feel wetness in your undies, but the sensation is completely different from urination (in my humble opinion). Plus, amniotic fluid is clear and odorless. If your pee is the same, well, you're way more hydrated than I have ever been.

That Your Labor Will Start Right Away

Oh. So sorry, my friend. The fact is, only about 10-15 percent of labors begin with water breaking (I just happen to be in that small percentage). The majority of pregnant women, 60 percent as a matter of fact, go into labor within 24 hours. The rest do so within 48 hours, so you may have a day or more to wait. Even then, you might still have to be induced, which happened to my niece's mom a week before my delivery.

That Your Contractions Will Begin Immediately

Yeah, no. You actually might start your contractions before your amniotic sac ruptures (or your doctor could do it for you or it could happen as your baby is born), but most ladies will get going between 12-24 hours. I started in just a few hours myself.

That You'll Go To Hospital Immediately

Not so fast. I know, I know: Phoebe on Friends couldn't go to Atlantic City because her water broke and she had to go right to the hospital. If only. It's much more likely that your provider will tell you to stay home. If you have a steady leak like I did, you'll head in after 12 hours because of the risk of infection.

Settle in, ladies, this ride is just getting started.