Your unborn baby lies in an amniotic sac of fluid or ‘waters’. ‘Waters breaking’ means that the sac has ruptured or broken. Your waters normally break around the time labour is due but in around 2% of pregnancies they break early for various reasons (see below).
If your waters break before your baby has reached full term (37 weeks), the medical name for it is preterm prelabour rupture of the membranes, or PPROM. If this happens early, before the contractions start, it can (but does not always) trigger early labour.
This page deals with waters breaking early before 37 weeks. Read here about what to expect when your waters break AFTER 37 weeks.
Have my waters broken early (PPROM)?
If your waters have broken early, you will experience it as a trickle or a gush of water from your vagina. It is likely to continue leaking once it has started If it isn't too heavy you can use a sanitary towel to catch it. This will also allow you to see what colour it is, which will be helpful information for health professionals. It may be pinkish if it contains some blood, or it may be clear. If it greenish or brown go to the maternity unit as soon as possible. If it is heavy, you may need to use a towel.
Phone your maternity unit immediately for advice.
What are the risks if my waters break early (PPROM)?
If your waters break early the risks and treatment are dependent on the stage of pregnancy you are at.
- You are at risk of going into labour prematurely – the health risks for the baby of early birth are greater the younger they are.
- If you do not go into labour, you and the baby are at risk of infection.
The doctors have to balance these two considerations. If the waters have broken because of infection, you and the baby have a high risk of getting the infection and you may need to deliver sooner to prevent this.
If the waters have broken but there is no infection currently present, you and the baby are still at risk but the immediate risk is lesser and your treatment will depend on your stage of pregnancy.
If you are under 24 weeks of pregnancy and the baby is born, sadly, it is unlikely the baby will survive.
What will happen if my waters break early (PPROM)?
You are likely to have an internal examination. This will allow the doctor to look at your cervix and check:
- if the leaking fluid is amniotic fluid
- if it is changing in preparation for labour
- to check for infection by taking a swab.
You might have an ultrasound scan to estimate the amount of fluid left around your baby.
If only a very small amount of amniotic fluid leaks, it is not always easy to be sure whether your waters have broken.
- You may be advised to wear a pad and stay in hospital for a few hours to monitor the situation.
- If you go home but continue to leak fluid at home, you should return to the hospital again.
If your waters are shown to have broken, you will be advised to come into hospital for at least 48 hours. You and your unborn baby will be closely monitored for signs of infection. This will include having your temperature and pulse taken regularly, and your baby’s heart rate will also be monitored.
Going home from hospital with PPROM
If there is no infection present you may be able to go home. You will be at risk from infection however, and you will need to self-monitor by
- checking that your temperature is normal (37 °C or less) every 4–8 hours
- checking the colour of the fluid does not change by wearing a pad.
You should avoid having sexual intercourse.
Contact your doctor or midwife and return to the hospital immediately if you have:
- a raised temperature (more than 37 °C)
- flu-like symptoms (feeling hot and shivery)
- vaginal bleeding
- if the leaking fluid becomes greenish or smelly
- abdominal pain
- if you are worried that the baby is not moving as normal.
Inducing labour or premature labour with PPROM
If you are past 34 weeks the doctor will weigh up the benefits of inducing labour before the due date to avoid the risk of infection with the disadvantages of being born premature, and may make a recommendation for early delivery.
You may need to stay in a hospital that has a neonatal unit and be monitored carefully for any sign of infection. You may also be treated with antibiotics, corticosteroids and magnesium sulphate (if you are less than 30 weeks) to help prepare your baby in case the are born prematurely.
Over 80% of women who have PPROM deliver their baby within seven days of their waters breaking.
What if there are no waters left in my womb?
Your baby’s amniotic sac has to have the right amount of amniotic fluid for the pregnancy to continue normally. If there is a break in the waters your baby will continue to produce amniotic fluid.
Before 23 weeks, the baby needs ‘waters’ to be present for their lungs to develop normally. Loss of water before this can lead to severe problems with lung development that can be critical after birth. After 23 weeks your baby does not need the amniotic fluid so much, so low levels of fluid may not be a problem in itself, but if the low levels are due to your waters breaking then there is a risk of infection.
Causes of waters breaking early (PPROM)
Intrauterine infection is present in around a third of women with PPROM. In many cases however it happens without any infection being present. The reason for these cases is unclear, however it has been linked to heavy smoking (more than 10 cigarettes a day) in pregnancy
Having more vaginal discharge during pregnancy is common, but speak to your midwife or doctor if you are unsure about any increase or change in your vaginal discharge.
- RCOG (2012) Information for you When your waters break early, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
- J David, Steer P et al (2010) High risk pregnancy, management options, Elsevier Saunders
- RCOG (2006) Preterm Prelabour Rupture of Membranes, Greentop guideline 44, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
- England MC, Benjamin A, Abenhaim HA (2013) Increased Risk of Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes at Early Gestational Ages among Maternal Cigarette Smokers. Am J Perinatol. 2013 Jan 17
ℹLast reviewed on October 5th, 2016. Next review date October 5th, 2019.
By Curtneka (not verified) on 7 Apr 2020 - 06:48
At 21 weeks I had a gender reveal and found out I am expecting a baby boy. The next day I felt liquid slide down my legs and called OBED because I thought my water broke. I went in and was told my waterbag had broken and there currently wasn't any fluid around baby. They gave my husband and I options to either get induced that night or continue with pregnancy. We decided to continue with pregnancy so they sent me home with antibiotics to decrease chances of infection. I am currently 24 weeks 3 days pregnant and I'm on bed rest in the hospital. Tomorrow will be a week since I've been here and baby is doing great. I was told my waterbag is attempting to reseal itself and baby has been floating around in fluid. Doctors monitor his heart rate multiple times a day. I also tested positive for Covid19 but I do not have any symptoms. Prayers really work. Take moments and say a silent prayer and know there is a God watching over you as you go through what you are going through. I have no idea when this little guy will come but I think about my daughter and how she was born at 25 weeks weighing 1lb 9oz and she's now 8 years old and healthy as ever.
By Jessie (not verified) on 2 Apr 2020 - 12:57
Water broke yesterday they said the amniotic fluid is very low but the baby is still alive. I'm praying the lord will reseal the membrane and that I can carry full term
By Sophie (not verified) on 15 Apr 2020 - 18:41
how are you and baby?
By Naomi Leadbeatter (not verified) on 31 Mar 2020 - 19:54
My waters broke at 18weeks off pregnancy a few days ago and my doctors have sent me home and given me something to stop infections so far my baby is still alive and pulling through but there is 0 fluid left doctors are saying a termination is my best interest but I can't and won't do that, does my baby still have a chance even though there's 0 fluid
By Evelyn (not verified) on 3 Apr 2020 - 05:53
It’s so hard to say just lost my babies was carrying twins water break on one at 20 weeks doctors said they couldn’t survive because the lunch not develop
By Sophie (not verified) on 12 Apr 2020 - 16:23
Hi Naomi, How are you and baby doing?
By saba khalid (not verified) on 16 Apr 2020 - 09:52
my case is exactly the same as yours. Is it posible to speak to you. 832-410-9148. if possible, i would highly appreciate it. i am 18 weeks too.
By Kaka (not verified) on 25 Feb 2020 - 01:46
My wife had morphology scan and everything was looking normal. But she had few bleeding episodes where we and doctors felt it could be a miscarriage. My wife first pregnancy was a silent miscarriage, then second had ectopic pregnancy, this time it continued but water broke at 20 weeks.
After morphology scan, water broke and we went to hospital and they gave us option to terminate the pregnancy but we didn’t take it. We thought let’s see if we all survive. The bub shows a great strength so far, they got her admitted and started IVF antibiotics for three days and then got discharge and given oral antibiotic and complete bed rest and take more fluids at home.
Today she is 23 weeks and 3 days but got some fresh bleeding not much but it’s there. My advise to everyone, don’t take options from doc until if its serious. Do believe in your God. He is the creator of everything. Just stay positive and strong and don’t go for delivery unless a danger to mum’s health.
I pray for all of you as I seen and still facing all the difficulties and emotional side of being mother and father.
Lastly, do believe on your God and don’t worry. Look after yourself.
By Brandy (not verified) on 23 Mar 2020 - 01:04
Hope everything is going well
By Favor (not verified) on 31 Mar 2020 - 01:46
This was so encouraging thank you
By Nelly (not verified) on 14 Apr 2020 - 08:42
Thank you so much for your encouraging words. My water broke at 22 weeks over The Weekend and the doctors asked me to induce and I refused it’s day 4 all seems to be ok and I’m still hospitalized and on antibiotics and the fluid isn’t coming out as much as before. God has been great and i Continue to pray, I am hopeful
By Chizaram Fortune (not verified) on 15 Feb 2020 - 19:26
So my husband and I went to the hospital for our normal checkup in my 20th week, and after an ultrasound, the gynae said my cervix was thin and suggested a cerclage. Meanwhile, in my 11th week, I experienced heavy vaginal bleeding but when they checked, they said the baby was still intact and was safe.
We returned to the hospital in my 21st week, and the cervical cerclage was done. I woke up after the effect of the anasthetia has worn off and felt some fluid sipping through my vagina; I asked my husband to check if I was bleeding, he checked and said I wasn't but I could still feel the fluid draining; after a while, I got up and checked and called on the nurse, but she said it was normal, so I relaxed and was discharged. I went home but it continued a day after but I noticed my baby's movement had slowed down, so I returned to the hospital, and they checked and said the amniotic fluid has almost drained out completely and I'd have to be induced. But I've been placed on observation till the next two days before the induction
By Anonymous (not verified) on 24 Jan 2020 - 18:24
So I was at home laying in bed with my significant other, until I started having contractions to the point I thought I was going to deliver the baby right there in my bed. I prayed that he wouldn't because I knew it was still early in the pregnancy and I was so scared. The cramps and contractions stopped after about 5 minutes they started. So my boyfriend and I hopped in the vehicle, went straight through the e.r where my water and broke. The doctor took a swab of the fluid and had identified that there were traces of amniotic fluid in there so I was sent to a hospital in a big city were they had doctors more qualified and specialized for the job which is where they also has a NICU for premature babies that were born. I've been here in the hospital for over weeks now. I'm now over 24 weeks, they just gave me steroids to help mature babys lungs if he decides to come out early and are currently treating me with antibiotics to help with baby and me incase my body decides to form an infections. Through out my visit here, I leaked amniotic fluid for about the first 2 1/2-3 weeks I was here. Then my amniotic completely stopped leaking for about 4 days but in those 4 days shortly after I stopped leaking I started bleeding alot. The doctor said it could be caused due to part of the placenta being detached from inside my body which is causing in to bleed. The night I had started to bleed, I think I almost went into labour again. I had minor contractions for about 5 hours but the doctor just told me to relax and get some rest so I did and to wait and see what happens. Nothing happened. Then a day or two after I started leaking fluid again. Great. So I'm just wondering if anybody has gone through a similar situation like me and have any answers regarding how my pregnancy might still continue if I should expect to go into labour soon or things I should be doing or know about regarding my pregnancy. I feel like the nurses and doctors have been trying to send me out of the hospital since I got here because they don't really care about whether or not my baby survives and if there's any advice or legal tips I can move forward with incase they try to send me out of the hospital because I'm terrified that if so do leave and happen to catch an infection that it may affect my baby and my wellbeing and may affect the chances of my baby's survival. I live in Canada. Any legal advice or helpful advice or reassurance anyone want to give me?
By Kailey Works (not verified) on 2 Feb 2020 - 15:29
How are you doing now??? My water broke at 20 weeks as well. I’m currently 21 weeks and 4 days. I’m being hospitalized where they are checking my baby’s heart rate, my blood pressure, and temperature every couple hours. At 23 weeks I’m being transferred to a hospital with an extensive nicu team to prepare for a premature birth.
By Ramya (not verified) on 26 Mar 2020 - 20:40
How are you doing now? Did you and your baby make it to the NICU?
My water broke at 22 weeks, 1 week after placing a cervical cerclage.
By Divine (not verified) on 21 Feb 2020 - 09:54
Please you should suggest for surgery immediately,when prom happens during pregnancy a week after the woman is likely to deliver, and now the cause of the bleeding is due to placenta that has detached from the baby and that is so risky for you and the baby, because baby can't survive inside of you with that condition so the surgery has to be done and baby should be kept at NNU
By Justin Knights (not verified) on 16 Jan 2020 - 04:09
My wife was at 3 weeks and her water broke so we went to the hospital. The nurses there checked her and said she was 1cm dilated but yet send us home under doctors instuction. My question is was that safe?
By Any (not verified) on 12 Jan 2020 - 07:12
I have been in hospital for two nights as they monitor me and baby. I have had brown spotting and the doctor thought it was watery when he examined me. Had a scan yesterday and apparently there is still lots of fluid around baby so they don’t think my waters have broken. I’m really hoping that if they have that my baby has a good chance of survival. I already lost one on Mother’s Day last year and I couldn’t bare it again. This spotting is a mystery! Anyone had anything similar?
By Patience (not verified) on 11 Jan 2020 - 17:42
In hospital and frustrated cause m not told enough information about my condition , please advise I want to hold my baby in my arms
By Star (not verified) on 29 Dec 2019 - 21:33
I was 19 weeks 5 days pregnant when i felt some water discharge... earlier I had hematoma which eventually was cleared according to my last ultrasound n always had blood n water discharge since 5 weeks of pregnancy... my biggest mistake I thought it was the final blood coming along with some liquid discharge so dint rush to the doctor.. the next day i felt fine n everything back to normal... On the 21st week i felt contractions i rushed to the hospital n found out that I had lost alot of water and n that I may lose my baby.. Doctor said they would keep me under observation for 24 hours I knew just like before my baby would fight this too .. this whole time i had continuous contractions they gave me light dose ot pain killer .. at 1:10 am I had a very bad pain .. I could feel something tight on my bladder ... in no time my baby was out still breathing... doctors didn’t do anything to the baby bcoz he was only 21 weeks ... they said they could do something if he was 24 weeks only ... I lost my baby 1 night before Christmas its been 6 days todays n I’m still trying to recover from the pain.. My only advice is please consult a doctor if u feel anything unusual
By Sophie (not verified) on 11 Dec 2019 - 18:14
Hi, I’m going through a hard time at the moment and don’t know what to think. I think my waters my have broken as I have little fluid around my baby. I’m scared and don’t know what is going to happen... what I do know and believe is that whatever happens, will happen and I will fight for my little baby.
By Rebecca (not verified) on 2 Jan 2020 - 06:49
I’m not sure what your situation is now, but i understand and i pray you have the outcome that I have had. At some point between 17-19 weeks my water leaked heavily and we didn’t notice until my anatomy scan. I had zero fluid. I went home on bedrest since the baby wasn’t considered viable. I did an agonizing amount of bedrest for 7 weeks and now my rupture has Healed. I now have a completely normal and healthy amount of fluid at 28 weeks. Good luck to you and stay positive!
By Sara (not verified) on 29 Feb 2020 - 02:46
Hi there. My name is Sara and am currently 19 weeks and 3 days pregnant. My water broke at 17 weeks and 1 day. I am currently in bed rest and of course am looking things up I shouldn’t. I’m am so glad to stumble upon you’re post. We’re hoping the sac reseals but so far it hasn’t. Seeing your story is inspiring tho. Thank you for putting it out there!
By Anonymous (not verified) on 7 Mar 2020 - 21:32
This is encouraging
By Lis (not verified) on 27 Mar 2020 - 14:38
I had Prom at 16 weeks, was at 0.3 fluid, was at 1.9cm at 17 weeks. Had a bleeding scare this week. Currently at 18.5 weeks. Hoping for the sac to repair itself. Would be good to hear others stories.
By Chantell (not verified) on 12 Apr 2020 - 13:48
Seeing this is very inspiring. Good luck I hope u make it full term.
My sac ruptured at exactly 19 weeks I am now 19 weeks and 5 days I’m praying to make it to 23 weeks where I can be admitted and taking care of the doctor said I have a great amount of fluid in the sac and baby heart beat is strong and regular. Pray for me and family thank you
By Fee (not verified) on 13 Apr 2020 - 05:25
Hi in similar situation just seeing how urself and baby are doing♥
By Sam (not verified) on 16 Apr 2020 - 22:27
Hi I am 17 weeks pregnant I have to same problem there is a little bit of water left they told me today I’m scared what happened after was baby ok
By Ayanda Abisola ... (not verified) on 10 Dec 2019 - 05:39
Hello, good morning, am 21weeks 6days my water broke on Saturday, by 4:00pm, and on Sunday I went to the hospital and at the hospital I felt something under me and I was told it's my baby's cord is out and my baby's heart bit is 174, he was ok, so I ask if they could save my baby and they said no, that they have to induce me. So I was induced by the time my baby was out he was dead, so my question is this was there any way they could have save my boy.
By Yesica Miranda (not verified) on 28 Dec 2019 - 17:58
I know how you feel.. I have the same question i feel like they could’ve safe my baby but didn’t do it. My water broke at 20 weeks and i had to be induced as well and lost my baby.
By Giao (not verified) on 20 Jan 2020 - 19:11
I got PPROM on 27 Dec at 20 weeks, induced 5 days later and lost my baby. I had not known about early water break when it happened to me, I was confused and heartbroken when doctor told me that I had zero amniotic fluid and couldn’t keep the baby. It’s been 20 days and I miss him so much. It’s hard to share this with anyone around me, even with my husband.
By Hellen (not verified) on 5 Jan 2020 - 20:16
Am so sorry about your experience. I went through slightly the same thing. My water broke at 24 weeks, so I was hospitalized for a few days with treatment that am not so certain of but am sure it included shots to prepare the baby’s lungs( since they were obviously still young) and other things. But anyway, my doctor told me of induction n emergency c section. He told me the risks for both but mainly that if I had induction, chances are high the baby will not make it because I had already lost all the water. So I chose c section and with very a good NICU team, my baby is now almost 2 yrs
By Antara (not verified) on 9 Dec 2019 - 03:16
I am 26 weeks pregnant and suddenly felt last night my underwear is smelling different and damp with some fluid.
After 2hours it happened again.my baby movement is ok now.and last 10 hours no fluid or dumpness was happened.i m leaving in uk but currently I am in turkey .what should I do?
My return flight is after four days
By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Dec 2019 - 15:30
Are you wearing a pad? is it possible this could be a urine leak?
If you are concerned you should go to a hospital in Turkey to get checked out. Best wishes
By Eunice (not verified) on 23 Sep 2019 - 15:01
My water broke this morning am 17weeks and 2days will my baby survive but am not having any labour pain, am still in the hospital but they are not tell me anything. I need ur help now. Tell me what to do thanks
By Stef (not verified) on 24 Sep 2019 - 16:00
The same happened to me in the night Saturday to Sunday so I felt compelled to reply.
In the night of Saturday to Sunday my waters broke at 15weeks while asleep. - I'd just become full time at work and defo overdid it at work on Friday and Saturday (or am I jyst trying to find excuses for what happens?) - After that followed a rushed trip to hospital. There the wait for answers and a scan was escrutiating. My waters were gone I was told after physical examination so I prepared for the worse. Then the scan reveiled that there was enough fluid in amniotic sac and that baby was fine! So I was sent home with antibiotics and a sick note for work, confused and emotional but relieved.
So far I feel fine and baby gave plenty of kicks in the afternoon to my delight and still again today.
So I want to tell you to hang in there. The hospital staf don't know much at this stage and as the sonographer said to me the machine won't tell the future but take every minutes of everyday as it comes. I wish you all the best. Warm hugs xxx
By Melg (not verified) on 4 Oct 2019 - 21:42
Hey just wanted to let you know my story to help you with yours. ..so at 17weeks 3 days my waters had broken on my u/s my doc told me there was very lil amniotic fluid around baby I was in tears for the rest of the scan...we was then refered to a fatal specialist who then told us that it is a risky situation but from his scan there was less fluid there but In a realistic point he cannot promise anything with less fluid the baby's lungs won't develop properly ...they gave us the option to terminate the pregnancy before 23weeks and maybe try again fresh after a few months...but I couldn't because I still saw and heard a heart beat ...that was my baby...I went back to my doctor and i was ready emotionally for anything but I was going to give my baby a fighting chance .I was then admitted on full bed rest on the 4th of July 2019 and today marks 3 months exactly for my hospital bed rest stay...i am still draining fluid but I'm being monitored closely, my baby's heart beat reading is told to be one of the most stongest In the ward...I'm almost full 31weeks now and just taking 1 day at a time ...baby will be born prematurely and will go to NICU but he has a good survival rate than at 17weeks ...I'm glad I gave my baby a chance and I can't wait for him my little fighter...so from my point ladies it's a fight ..yes it's a very emotional situation but we are strong ...trust me spending 3 month in hospital on bed rest is no joke i even had my other childs birthday party in my hospital room beacuse i am on bed rest but all you need to remember is why you doing it ...I have made a family here at the hospital and all my nurses can't wait to see my baby as well ...Be strong ladies it ain't over yet
By Iome (not verified) on 6 Nov 2019 - 14:55
Hi Mel, my waters have gone at 21 weeks and three says. Doctor has said to me that there is hardly any fluid around my baby. Heart beat and everything still ok. I’m scared as they said my baby might be born with tight limbs and breathing problems. I hope she holds on until 23/24 weeks so she’s has a better chance of surviving
By Sobha (not verified) on 19 Nov 2019 - 12:15
Thank you so much for sharing your experience.
I am at 28 week and water leak started this morning and in hospital now.
Doctor asked to wait 2 days, gave half dose of steroid and antibiotics.
There may be a chance of reseal the sack itseems. Please share any information
By Ann Bass (not verified) on 12 Dec 2019 - 16:54
Hi, Where do you live? I wish there was care here like you have received.
My daughter's water broke on Monday and she is 22 weeks and 3 days today, Thursday. They discharged her this morning saying that they dont do anything for a baby prior to 23 weeks. She is diagnosed with Vaginosis and Trichomonis and as you know infection is not what you want. They had her on IV and when they threw her out today they gave her nothing. She is also BiPolar among other things. I cant believe that this Dr. Had the nerve to tell us that they were not a Hotel.
By Kathryn (not verified) on 12 Apr 2020 - 09:56
Wow see i think that you should have put in a complaint about that doctor.
They are not all like that but having mental health as well that is not what you want to hear from anyone!
By Shelley (not verified) on 16 Dec 2019 - 03:43
My water broke at 19w6d with no fluids left at all and I was admitted in hospital at 23w 11-9-19 I have been in hospital for 1mo,6days. I am now The goal is to make it to 34w and then deliver that day. I’m now 28w1d 12-15-19. I was wandering if you have had your baby If so how are things going? I pray all is good please update me thanks
By Parrish Marshall (not verified) on 27 Mar 2020 - 04:45
Just checking cause I’m Going Through Something Similar Hows Your Baby?
By Curtneka (not verified) on 8 Apr 2020 - 18:23
This is so encouraging to read. How is your baby now?
By Fathima (not verified) on 11 Sep 2019 - 11:04
Hi I am 21.and 5 days
Weeks my water bag breaks At night around 1.30 am...
I got a ultra sound from da doctor
But he told me not to keep any expectation!!!but tha baby is moving!!!there Is a heart beat!!!
But i was Ok!!!stopped leaking but again it gushes down in my pads!!
I feel scary and nervous!!
By Dominique (not verified) on 15 Sep 2019 - 09:57
Im sp sorry to hear that but atay atrong they are people like you and me they said my babies are infected and would die and i knew it wasnt true i just felt in my gut and my swabs came clear ...i was ok 2 weeks later im 23 weeks almost there...the care increases when yoir 24 weeks because chances increases...
By T (not verified) on 11 Sep 2019 - 00:41
My wife went to hospital she's 36 weeks, Friday she well be 37 week but now the water broke on Sunday, doctors what to induce labor which is stressing me out, please help
By Anonymous (not verified) on 23 Jul 2019 - 07:59
lm already35weeks and my waters have broken what shouldl do
By Midwife @Tommys on 24 Jul 2019 - 09:40
Please go to your local hospital. Once your waters have broken, you and your baby are at risk of infection.
By Stormy (not verified) on 16 Jul 2019 - 17:19
I have had 2 miscarriages my was 2011 I was 19 weeks and my water broke. My second one was in 2018 I was 22 weeks and my water broke. I have pcos and irregular periods. What are my chances of getting pregnant and it surviving?