When will my water break?

Suzy, expecting her first baby, asks:

When during labour will my water break?  Will it be a complete surprise like in the movies?

Water can break before labour starts.  According to today’s standards, if you do not go into labour within 24 hrs they will induce you.  During labour, your water can break at anytime.  Usually if you are 7 cm or more and your water has not broken, they will break your water for you and typically after this you will have very strong contractions.  If you are up and about and your water breaks, it feels like lovely warm fluid going down your leg.  It is not a huge burst, but a gentle flow.  Unless you pee your pants on a regular basis, I do not think you will feel like it is urine.  Now, it does not have to happen at once, but it can be a slow leak.  During one of my labours the doctor went to break my waters, but discovered there were none.  (This was after I had told him that I had been leaking fluid for two days – sometimes the patient knows more than you think!).  Suzie should keep this in mind for the future.

When I was in labour with the twins, the doctor told me I was only 5cm dilated and that I should go for a walk.  Robb and I, his partner (also a doctor) and wife were walking through the hospital while I was in transition.  I had just reached the surgery department when I felt a head come down on my cervix.  I told the nurse at the nursing station that I was about to deliver.  She dismissed my urgency, telling me I had plenty of time and to just make my way back. But I KNEW I was about to deliver the first twin and could have hit her if I was not so frantic to find a wheelchair.  We must have looked like we were doing a satire on childbirth.  I was in the wheel chair with my legs in the air and Robb was speeding down the hallways looking for the Labour and Delivery hall; our friends were running behind.  Somehow Robb missed the turn and had to back track.  Panting up a storm, I have never felt so desperate in all my life.   With barely a few minutes to spare, we made it to the correct ward and Timothy was born.  Out of all ten kids, he was my easiest delivery, mostly because he was only 3 lbs . . . Michael was a footling breech and was a bit harder to deliver.  Thankfully Timmy had made some space so the doc could maneuver Mikey around.

Anyhow . . . this is rather a long way to make the point that if you think you are right about something, for heaven’s sake, speak out!

About Catherine

Catherine is a mum who lives in Chesapeake, Virginia; she and her husband, Robb, have ten children, and have operated a family medical practice for thirty years. This blog is a place she shares thoughts and answers questions -- especially from other moms, but from anyone! -- about pregnancy and child-rearing, marriage, sickness and health, and lots of other things.
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