Will My Water Actually Break During Labor? Not Totally

by Lindsay E. Mack

You know the stereotypes of going into labor from every sitcom or lighthearted movie you've ever seen. A pregnant woman gets a confused look on her face, screams that her water has broken, and delivers a perfect baby three minutes later. But for people who live in the real world, this idea can be one of the more confusing aspects of delivery. So you may find yourself asking will my water actually break during labor, and what is that sensation really like?

First, it's helpful to understand what is really going on when your water breaks. As explained by the Mayo Clinic, your baby is cushioned by the fluids of the amniotic sac during pregnancy, and these membranes will rupture and leak out around the start of labor. It's a normal part of the delivery process for everyone, but the specifics can vary from woman to woman.

Do you get any prior warning that it's about to happen? Sometimes. As explained in New Health Advisor, some women may feel or hear a "popping" sensation when their water breaks. This may sound scary, but by most accounts it is not a painful feeling. In fact, women likened it to cracking a knuckle or feeling a water balloon pop in Baby Center. If you sense a pop inside and immediately start leaking, then it's probably your water breaking.

But how much fluid are we talking? Well, the amount can vary from woman to woman. According to Parents, some women experience a small amount of dampness around their vagina, whereas others have a more steady gush of liquid when their water breaks; in fact, up to three cups of liquid may come out. This may sound worrisome, but take heart: you are unlikely to randomly soak your pants in public with no prior warning. As explained in Today's Parent, only 10 to 15 percent of pregnant women experience their water breaking before going into labor, and some are so far into the labor process when it starts that they don't even notice the extra fluid from the ruptured membrane. But if you are in the minority of women whose water breaks prior to labor, then it's probably a good idea to contact your doctor right away. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health, many women will go into labor soon after experiencing the signs of water breaking, whereas others benefit from having labor induced soon after. Whatever the case, whenever you experience water breaking, chances are your baby's debut is not far away.