Okay, your water just broke – relax!

May 15, 2012 12:00 AM by

If you're getting ready for baby and are rapidly approaching your due date, you're probably getting a bit anxious about when and where your water will break – as well as what you should do immediately afterward. Despite what you may think, you won't always go into labor following the rupture of the amniotic sac – it may take hours or even days for some women.

When your water breaks, you'll likely feel a trickle or gush of fluid. It's not always easy to tell whether it's urine or amniotic fluid, so if you're not sure, you're better off asking your healthcare provider for advice or going to the hospital. Be prepared to give details about the color and scent of the liquid.

While you may still have plenty of time before you actually go into labor, it's always a good idea to notify your doctor of your water breaking. He or she will then instruct you on the next steps, whether it's taking it easy at home until your contractions are around five minutes apart, or coming in to the hospital.

Regardless, it's important to realize that you and your unborn baby are at risk of infection once the amniotic sac has ruptured. As such, you need to keep your vaginal area clean. Use pads, not tampons, to protect your clothes from the leakage, and be careful to wipe from front to back when you use the bathroom. Also, though you'll likely not feel anywhere close to "in the mood," it's important not to engage in any sexual activity at this time.

If you notice anything unusual, like green or brown amniotic fluid (which could mean your little one had a bowel movement in utero), feel something in your vagina or can see the umbilical cord in your vaginal opening, it's important to go to the hospital immediately.

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