The one fear that links most pregnant women is the fear of their water breaking in a public place, far from home, or in a very "unladylike" state ... or all three at the same time.
But the truth is that most of the time, a pregnant woman's water doesn't break in a giant gush like they show in the movies. And, it is most often not the first sign of labor.
In only 13 percent of pregnancies does the woman's water break prior to labor starting. In fact, in nearly 75 percent of pregnancies, the water doesn't break until the woman is already well into the throes of labor and is nine centimeters dilated!
During pregnancy, the substance that surrounds and cushions the baby is a fluid-filled membrane called the amniotic sac. In some instances, this sac can leak or break before labor begins ,which is called a premature rupture of membranes.
This can feel like a continuous leak of watery fluids or like a huge gush of water. It can be a totally unique experience for everyone.
As each pregnancy and woman is different, the rupture of the membranes around the child could happen all at once or it could happen more slowly, like an ongoing trickle that won't go away. Since the fluid surrounding the child is amniotic fluid and has different properties than urine (something else that may flow freely during pregnancy) it is important to know the difference between the two substances.
If a woman's water has broken, she can then introduce bacteria to the child and leave the baby in a very vulnerable state. Therefore, if she thinks her water has broken, it is imperative that she find out for sure.
There are a few key differences between a rupture of membranes and a simple episode of incontinence.
For any woman who experiences a sudden gush of fluid, the key is to relax. For those who are able, change clothes and put a sanitary pad on along with clean underwear. Experts say to lie down for 30 minutes.
If a woman's water has really broken, it will pool in the vagina and when she attempts to stand up, she will experience another gush of fluid.