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 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 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?
By Brandy (not verified) on 25 Sep 2019 - 16:03
You can carry a baby to full term but will need a cerclage ( stich) to keep the pregnancy. Please talk to someone In maternal fetal medicine.
By Anonymous (not verified) on 8 Jul 2019 - 05:30
I was 17 week pregnant wen my water broke at night we went to hospital and they said since there is no fluid my baby wouldn’t be able to survive Nd they delivered baby but my baby’s heartbeat was there till last time I feel so guilty as if my child wanted to say that he wanted to live and I couldn’t help him I feel kind of I m responsible for not having him . It was my first child
By Anonymous (not verified) on 22 Aug 2019 - 12:00
Did your baby survive? I'm on the same boat.
By Miskey (not verified) on 13 Sep 2019 - 03:13
I sit here with my water broke at 21 weeks and I felt your message and I'm sorry for your loss.
Please do not feel guilty. I know that Doctors can be very aggressive at this moment and are trying to prevent harm to the mom. They make it seem as if that's the only best option, so that is what one decides to do.
The fact is that there are precautions and risks and making that decision prevented that. Sometimes things happen and we do not know why nor do we understand but we cannot and must not feel guilty when are put into such a difficult situation. God bless,
By Anonymous (not verified) on 13 Sep 2019 - 14:34
I lost my baby girl at 17 weeks too, just Tuesday. It's the worst thing I've ever experienced, I can't stop crying. I was told that I have a leakage due to ruptured membrane, I was also bleeding but when the baby came the sac was still sealed but the fluid colour was brown she was very much still alive. She was my 1st baby too. I don't know how I'm going to get over this.
By sophia (not verified) on 13 Sep 2019 - 16:18
The same thing has happened to me few weeks ago.this is the sixth pregnancy, but its the third one I have lost die to prom. My water broke at 19weeks but she stayed alive Until 20 weeks. Third time I have to go through this and its harder than ever. I still can't be give any answers as to why I keep loosing and now I'm scared to try again. Has anyone else experienced this much loss. Its heartbreaking.
By Anonymous (not verified) on 23 Sep 2019 - 08:51
Remain strong.i just had the same experience at 16weeks and also my first child.
Don't worry more are coming
By Anonymous (not verified) on 1 Nov 2019 - 23:40
This is exactly what happened to me, I feel so guilty like I never gave my baby a fighting chance. I gave up to soon. It's only been 3 days since I lost my baby and I'm finding it so hard to fall asleep. Is it possible for me to fall pregnant right away or should I wait just a little longer
By funmilayo (not verified) on 6 Nov 2019 - 16:39
i lost my baby at 34 weeks. my water broke at 20 weeks but i manage to carry it till 24 weeks then the baby legs was out i was rush to emergency after c-section the baby die after few hours because i was told the baby had develop infection and if the baby survive he will have brain damage its the hardest decision for me and my husband to let go of the baby. im just hanging up hoping to try again when im heal from the wond.
By Melg (not verified) on 7 Jul 2019 - 20:50
Omg I have read every1z comments I thought I was alone ...I just found out i am 17weeks pregnant and on my first scan my obs/gynae told me my water hard broken currently on bed rest and scan shows baby's heart best is strong but I have this fear ....out what's going to happen is my baby going to be ok
By Anonymous (not verified) on 22 Aug 2019 - 12:02
Did your baby survive? I'm on the same boat
By Lynn haake (not verified) on 28 Aug 2019 - 07:51
Just had cesarean at 6 months cuz of Pprom
By AB (not verified) on 5 Jul 2019 - 23:29
I am pregnant with twins, I had my cervix open and was stitched back. This morning my water broke and it happen and the licking was from Baby A.Though she still have some fluid. What do I do to keep moving. Thanks
By Anonymous (not verified) on 5 Sep 2019 - 20:33
Wat happened in the same boat
By AB (not verified) on 5 Jul 2019 - 23:03
I am pregnant with twins, I had my cervix open and was stitched back. This morning my water broke and it happen and the licking was from Baby A.Though she still have some fluid and Baby B is still intact with the water. Right now am believing God for a supernatural protection over them until 37weeks.
By Hendrina (not verified) on 20 Jun 2019 - 21:49
My water broke four day's ago. I'm now at 31 weeks. Im in the hospital for monitoring and receiving antibiotics, strictly bed rest and drinking more water. How are my baby survival chances because they will take him out at 34 weeks?. And any food recommended?
By Stefani (not verified) on 1 Jul 2019 - 18:30
My water broke also at 30 weeks and I am here at the hospital till I reach 34 wks. If you don’t have no restrictions on your diet you can eat anything you want just void raw or uncooked meat/fish
By Kayla (not verified) on 30 Aug 2019 - 10:45
I'm also in the same situation but my water broke when i was 27 weeks,now im at 28+
I was given antibiotics for the past 8 days and now I was told to stop,now I'm really worried because I was told that the reason I'm being given antibiotics is to prevent infections,so now my question is 'Am I not gonna get them now as I'm no longer taking antibiotics'?
By Mimi (not verified) on 27 Sep 2019 - 01:48
Kayla my water also broke at 27 weeks. The antibiotics are to help prevent infection but can only be given for a short period just as the magnesium. It is not long term and after two weeks they can be given again. Hope this help and good look. You at not alone.
By Dc (not verified) on 13 Jun 2019 - 11:25
I am on baby number 3, and pregnancy number 5. But I wanted to pray for you all and also give you some hope. My son who is now a healthy 7 yr old was my 2 Nd pregnancy after an early miscarriage with him my waters broke at 30 weeks no infection but mixed advise to induce after a scan it was also confirmed he was extremely small after advice from three different consultant s I decided to take the steroids and go home and rest! I saw a consultant weekly and had baby monitored every couple of days by midwife. I also took my temperature regularly and I naturally went into labour at 33 weeks he was 3lb when born and spent three weeks in neo natal because of the steroids he was born breathing and I got to hold him first because of weight and feeding issues we stayed in hospital till he got to 5 lb. Like I said he is now a healthy 7 year old and is one of the biggest in his class lol! My 3rd pregnancy was miscarriage at 14 weeks no reason just started to bleed. My 4 th pregnancy with my now 18 month old girl I went all the way no complications she was born on her due date but was a flat baby and developed sepsis but after 5 days in hospital came home and has had no complications since. My advice is to try not to worry get as much advice and asked lots of questions never be afraid to ask for a different opinion and somewhat trust that everyone wants the same thing a healthy mum and baby, good luck to you all P.S I must be crazy doing it all again currently 21 weeks with pregnancy number 5 hopefully baby number 3 !!!
By Zain (not verified) on 7 Jul 2019 - 18:18
Had the PPROM my fast baby at six months and lost due to lungs failure.. My question is am already 4 weeks pg and it's now been the sixth month since I lost the other one.. Am scared pls can it happen again?
By Jessica (not verified) on 9 Jun 2019 - 17:44
Hi, I had a gush if water with blood 5 days ago. Was told it was heavy discharge and urine and to go home. Something was telling me it wasn’t right. I demanded more tests and turned out my waters are breaking. We have a scan tomorrow to see how much fluid I have lost. I’m hoping to god that I can keep her in for as Long as possible. Am I being silly hoping for this ? Or have people had healthy babies with the same experience ?
By Ashley (not verified) on 30 Jun 2019 - 22:41
Bed rest bed rest No heavy lifting.. I’m currently in the hospital trying to hold my little boy in at least another 5 weeks so he’s got a chance.. hang in their and rest. Praying for you.
By Kayla (not verified) on 30 Aug 2019 - 11:08
Another 5 weeks?
Does this mean u are going to give birth at 25 weeks?
By Christine Kerub... (not verified) on 5 Jun 2019 - 22:51
My waters broke 3 days ago and I immediately rushed to hospital. They performed an ultrasound and luckily the baby was fine except for the low amount of amniotic fluid.They performed tests and found out I had a bacterial infection which was the cause of the rupture. I'm now on steroids and antibiotics in hospital bed rest for the next five weeks for my lil angel to turn 34 weeks and then they induce me. The fluid still gushing out but I'm taking 5 L of water daily to keep myself hydrated. No pains or crumping but the baby has minimal moments. They keep checking the baby heartbeat and my pulse, pressure,temperature and blood tests.Hoping for the best.
By Lelethu Matomela (not verified) on 6 Jun 2019 - 19:02
Im on the same thing , i was admitted last week Tuesday when i had 28 weeks and now im on 29.
By Oyewumi Temitope (not verified) on 17 Nov 2019 - 05:00
How long did u go with the pregnancy cause am in your shot right now
By Paige (not verified) on 18 Jun 2019 - 06:53
My water broke 3 weeks ago and ive been in the hospital for 2 weeks now on bed rest waiting till we make it to 34 weeks or past. I am now at 25 weeks and 2 days!
By Tee (not verified) on 27 Jun 2019 - 11:58
Yes me too my water broke on the 25th if June been in here for two full days now no dilating or contractions or pain no infections clear fluids im a diabetic.. I'll 25 weeks Sat.
By Yobana (not verified) on 18 Aug 2019 - 02:01
So I am actually 28 weeks and my water broke can you give me any advice? I’m really scared and nervous because they said I am having cesarean birth
By Aisha Clarke (not verified) on 20 Oct 2019 - 08:35
Did your baby served when they delivered at 34 eeeks
By Dee (not verified) on 31 May 2019 - 12:11
I had PROM At 26 weeks 6 days today we are 27 weeks 5days and I am still heavily draining. Baby is at 1kg and they keep stopping contractions, we received the steroids a week ago and each day I hv been on antibiotics, I need to know if it is safe for them to allow baby to come at 30 weeks as I estimate I might be at 1.3 kg. Is there a chance baby can survive?
By Sc (not verified) on 1 Jun 2019 - 00:33
Yes!!! Your baby could survive if born today. I’m now 25+3 and also ruptured and waiting. Drink a lot and stay in the hospital on bed rest. My friend just delivered a baby this week at 33 weeks whose water broke at 17 weeks and babe is good.
By Safisha Denika ... (not verified) on 11 Jun 2019 - 15:04
Am having same problem as your friend but I haven’t leak any fluid and no one can tell me why my baby has so fluid around it or what’s the cause only thing the doctor is telling me is to terminate my pregnancy but my baby has a heart bet of 153
By Kerry (not verified) on 15 Jun 2019 - 13:10
I am sixteen weeks. There is no fluid around my baby. The doctors want to terminate my baby but as long as it's heart is beating I will not do it. I will go on bed rest and drink a lot of water. I will trust in God to work a miracle. Be strong
By Lingling (not verified) on 27 Jun 2019 - 07:35
I hope you and your baby are both fine now? My water broke at 16 weeks today, with discharge of blood too. In hospital ward Hoping for the best now.
By Sarah (not verified) on 5 Jul 2019 - 09:39
This is so reassuring to read,I am 18 weeks and my waters broke two days ago, I'm praying my baby girls makes it, she still has a strong heart beat, water only coming out a tiny bit now.
By Jo (not verified) on 26 Jul 2019 - 12:06
This one gives me so much hope
By Nomadouglas (not verified) on 14 Jun 2019 - 22:51
I am a neonatal nurse and i know your beautiful baby will survive. Hope they are doing well x