Out of nowhere, liquid leaks out onto the ground and you may think you may have wet yourself. But in fact the membrane of the amniotic sac (in which your fetus developed for the last 9 months) has ruptured and that leaking liquid is amniotic fluid. That rupture of membranes, also called amniorrhexis, indicates that your water bag has broken. 

  • ROM: Rupture of membranes
  • PROM: Premature Rupture of Membranes: Your water breaks before labor
  • PPROM: Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes - Your water breaks before 37 weeks

Causes of Rupture of Membranes
Noone knows what causes the cervical plug to loosen and fall out. Most women never see the plug, but passing the mucus plug may or may not cause a rupture of membranes when labor is about to begin. Researchers believe the final chemical reaction that causes the “bag of waters” to break comes due to brain signals sent from the baby that it is ready to make its grand entrance!

Important Facts About Rupture of Membranes
While the rupture of membranes means your baby is ready to begin the decent through the birth canal, the process is not immediate. Once the water bag has ruptured there is an increased risk of infection. Fluid will leak out gently or flush out in a small gush. The fluid that leaks when there is a rupture of membranes, is amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid is clear and odorless, so if there if there is any color or scent to the fluid, it is probably urine. If the rupture of membranes has occurred, labor often begins in 12 to 24 hours.  If active labor has not started within 24 hours, your attending physician may take steps to induce labor to prevent infection to the fetus.

Amniotic fluid is often replenishing, so you don't need to worry about leaking all fluid.

Treatment for Rupture of Membranes
There is no treatment for rupture of membranes.  For some women, this process can begin around the week 38 or 39. For others, your baby may wait until week 41 or 42. As soon was the rupture of membranes has occurred, it is important to call your attending physician. Most often, doctors will advise their patients to wait for labor pains to begin within the following 12 hours before coming to the hospital to give birth.

Rupture of membranes could be a problem if it happens before 37 weeks (PPROM). In that case there is an increased risk of infection and you should see your doctor right away to find out what to do about it.