This page covers waters breaking early before 37 weeks. Read more about what to expect when your waters break after 37 weeks.
What is preterm prelabour rupture of membranes (PPROM)?
Your baby develops inside a bag of fluid called the amniotic sac. When your baby is ready to be born, the sac breaks and the fluid comes out through your vagina. This is your waters breaking. It is also known as rupture of the membranes.
Normally your waters break shortly before or during labour. If your waters break before labour at less than 37 weeks of pregnancy, this is known as preterm prelabour rupture of membranes or PPROM. If this happens, it can (but does not always) trigger early labour.
If your waters break early, the risks and treatment depend on your stage of pregnancy.
Is PPROM common in pregnancy?
What causes PPROM?
We don’t always know why PPROM happens. But it may be caused by infection, or placental problems, such as placental insufficiency or a blood clot (haematoma) behind the placenta or membranes. Other risk factors may include if you:
- have had a premature birth or PPROM before
- have had any vaginal bleeding in pregnancy
- have had any direct trauma to the stomach
- have had cervical surgery or have a short cervix
- have experienced placental abruption before
- have extra fluid around the baby in the amniotic sac (polyhydramnios)
- are pregnant with more than 1 baby.
It is important to remember that PPROM is not caused by anything you did or didn’t do in pregnancy.
How will I know if my waters have broken?
Your waters breaking may feel like a mild popping sensation, followed by a trickle or gush of fluid that you can’t stop, unlike when you wee. The amount of fluid you lose may vary. You may not have any sensation of the actual ‘breaking’, and then the only sign that your waters have broken is the trickle of fluid. It doesn’t hurt when your waters break.
You can read more about what to expect when your waters break.
What should I do if my waters break early?
If you think your waters may have broken, you should contact your midwife or labour ward and go to the hospital for a check-up straight away.
Amniotic fluid is clear and a pale straw colour. It may be a little pinkish if it contains some blood, or it may be clear. You must tell your healthcare professional if:
- the waters are smelly or coloured
- you are losing blood.
If you think that you are leaking fluid from the vagina, wear a pad not a tampon so your doctor or midwife can check the amount and colour of your waters.
“I had cervical incompetence and PPROM. I was put on hospital bedrest, antibiotics and had regular scans on the remaining water levels. Despite the antibiotics my infection markers were getting worse and I had to be induced at 24 weeks because they didn't think my baby would survive much longer in an infected womb. He survived birth, spent 7 months in hospital and then came home. He's now almost 5 years old and starting school in September.”
What happens at the hospital?
When you arrive at hospital, your healthcare professional will assess you to see if your waters have broken. This will also include a check on your general health including your temperature, pulse and blood pressure. They will also check your baby’s heartbeat and may do a urine test to check for infection.
Your healthcare professional will talk to you about what has happened, how you are feeling and your pregnancy history.
How is PPROM diagnosed?
Your healthcare professional will likely ask to do an internal vaginal examination (they will ask for your permission before doing so).
You may have what’s called a speculum examination. This is when a small instrument covered in gel is inserted into the vagina. The healthcare professional will then be able to see if there is any fluid pooling in the vagina. They will also take a swab to test for infection and a swab to test for group B strep infection. This will help confirm if your waters have broken. This test isn’t painful but it can sometimes be uncomfortable.
What happens next?
If your waters have broken, you will usually be advised to stay in hospital where you and your baby will be closely monitored for signs of infection. This may be for a few days or maybe longer. You will have your temperature, blood pressure and pulse taken regularly, as well as blood tests to check for infection. Your baby’s heart rate will also be monitored regularly.
If your waters have not broken, you should be able to go home.
If only a very small amount of amniotic fluid is leaking, it is not always possible to see it during an examination and it can be difficult to confirm whether your waters have broken.
If you continue to leak fluid at home, you should return to the hospital for a further check-up.
What could PPROM mean for me and for my baby?
If your waters have broken early, your healthcare professional will discuss with you the possible outcomes for your baby. These will depend on how many weeks pregnant you are when this happens and your individual circumstances.
The membranes form a protective barrier around the baby. After the membranes break, there is a risk that you may develop an infection. This can cause you to go into labour early or cause you or your baby to develop sepsis (a life-threatening reaction to an infection).
The symptoms of infection include:
- a raised temperature
- an unusual vaginal discharge with an unpleasant smell
- a fast pulse rate
- pain in your lower stomach.
Your baby’s heart rate may also be faster than normal. If there are signs that you have an infection, your baby may need to be born straight away. This is to try to prevent both you and your baby becoming more unwell.
PPROM and premature birth
About 50% of women with PPROM will go into labour within 1 week after their waters break. The further along you are in your pregnancy, the more likely you are to go into labour within 1 week of your waters breaking. PPROM is associated with 3-4 out of every 10 premature births.
This is when the umbilical cord falls through your cervix into the vagina. This is an emergency complication and can be life-threatening for your baby, but it is uncommon.
This is when your baby’s lungs fail to develop normally because of a lack of fluid around them. It is more common if your waters break very early on in pregnancy (less than 24 weeks) when your baby’s lungs are still developing.
This when your placenta separates prematurely from your uterus. It can cause heavy bleeding and can be dangerous for both you and your baby. Find out more about placental abruption.
If you experience PPROM, sometimes your baby sadly may not survive. There is a higher risk of this happening if your waters break very early, if the baby is born very prematurely (under 24 weeks) or, in some cases, following infection or cord prolapse.
Are there any treatments for PPROM?
It is not possible to ‘fix’ or heal the membranes once they are broken. But you may be offered treatment to reduce the risks to your baby. This could include:
- a short course of antibiotics to reduce the risk of an infection and delay labour
- a course of steroid injections (corticosteroids) to help with your baby’s development and to reduce the chance of problems caused by being born prematurely
- magnesium sulphate once you are in labour, which can reduce the risk of your baby developing cerebral palsy if they are born very premature.
If you do go into premature labour, you may be offered intravenous antibiotics (where the antibiotics are given through a needle straight into a vein) to reduce the risk of early-onset group B strep infection.
Do I need to stay in hospital?
You will usually be advised to stay in hospital for 5 to 7 days after your waters break, to monitor your and your baby’s wellbeing. You may be allowed to go home after that if you are not considered at risk for giving birth early.
When should I seek help if I go home?
Contact your healthcare professional and return to the hospital immediately if you experience any of the following:
- raised temperature
- flu-like symptoms (feeling hot and shivery)
- vaginal bleeding
- if the leaking fluid becomes greenish or smelly
- contractions or cramping pain
- abdominal pain or back pain
- if you are worried that the baby is not moving as normal. Contact your midwife or maternity unit immediately if you think your baby’s movements have slowed down, stopped or changed.
You should be given clear advice on how to take your pulse and temperature at home. You’ll probably also be advised to avoid having sex during this time.
What follow-up should I have?
You should have regular check-ups with your healthcare professional (usually once or twice a week).
During these check-ups, your baby’s heart rate will be monitored, your temperature, pulse and blood pressure will be checked and you will have blood tests to look for signs of infection. Your doctor will work with you to make an ongoing plan for your pregnancy, including regular ultrasound scans to check on your baby’s growth.
Your mental health
Experiencing PPROM can be stressful and cause a lot of anxiety. Coping with new symptoms and complications in pregnancy can sometimes be overwhelming. You could try our top 10 tips to relax.
If you’re feeling low, talk to your partner, family or friends about how you are feeling. You can also talk to your midwife. You won’t be judged for how you feel. They will help you stay well so you can look after yourself and your baby. They may also be able to signpost you to more help and support if you need it.
You can also call the Tommy’s midwives for a free, confidential chat on 0800 014 7800 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm), or email us at [email protected].
When is the right time to give birth?
If you and your baby are both well with no signs of infection, you may be advised to wait until 37 weeks to give birth. This is because it can reduce the risks associated with being born prematurely.
Your healthcare professional will talk to you about what they think is best and ask you what you want to do. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to in order to feel comfortable and able to make informed decisions about your care.
Will I be able to have a vaginal birth after PPROM?
This is possible, but it depends on when you go into labour, the position your baby is lying, and your own individual circumstances and choices.
Your healthcare professional will discuss this with you.
Will I have PPROM again a future pregnancy?
You will probably have specialist care in your next pregnancy. If you are not offered specialist care, you can ask for it. Remember that you can always talk to your midwife if you have any concerns about your care.
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.
Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (2019) When your waters break prematurely https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/patients/patient-leaflets/when-your-waters-break-prematurely/
Macdonald, Sue (2017) Mayes’ Midwifery. London, Elsevier Health Sciences UK
NHS Choices. Signs that labour has begun. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/labour-signs-what-happens/ (page last reviewed 09/11/2017 Next review due 09/11/2020)
NHS Choices. Premature labour and birth. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/premature-early-labour/ (page last reviewed 04/11/2019 Next review due 04/11/2022)Hide details
ℹLast reviewed on July 8th, 2020. Next review date July 8th, 2023.
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 Anna (not verified) on 27 Nov 2019 - 12:49
My exact same situation, at 17 weeks my waters broke, they kept me in hospital for a week for a chance to reseal but after a week nothing changed, no liquid at all and they said no chance at all, just risk of infection and death... so I was induced, Injave the same feelings as you, so guilty and regretful... it’s a horrible pain.
By Anonymous (not verified) on 28 Nov 2019 - 18:53
Same happened to me at 22 weeks. I went to doctor after I had Water leakage. But she was not present in the hospital and when I consulted her on ph even knowing that I was diabetic she said that it may be a white discharge and it's common. And she called me day after tomorrow.After seeing the anamoly scan which was done before leakage she said everything was fine. As she checked me the very same moment she said that I was having water leakage. She sent me to maternity cabin n I had an ultrasound where I saw my baby so active. But due to my leakage they injected me for inducing pain n I gave birth to my daughter who was no more. I lost my baby who was coming to me after 6 yrs due to carelessness of the doctor. Baby was weighing 436 gms.
By Jaya (not verified) on 7 Dec 2019 - 18:18
I'm so sorry for u, I'm now going thru same phase... I was pregnant after marriage of 2 n half year in aug 2019 , my husband was so so happy but in 9 Nov night my water broke and immediately taken to hospital till than bleeding was there.... And after 3 hour I lost my baby n still around 1 month some spotting is coming from my vagina.... Can't wait to ttc again.....n it really hurts I'm totally broken from inside....God plz make me mummy soon
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 Mickey (not verified) on 2 Jan 2020 - 05:34
I have read the many heartbreaking and hopeful stories of mums who love the life within. I wish each and every one of you a blessed future family, and blessings on today's family.
I have also read that staying well hydrated is key to the possibility that the fluids can be replaced. After 19 weeks steroids can be given to help the baby's lungs form. Having sex at this point is dangerous, so find other ways to "pass the time."
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 Davina (not verified) on 21 Nov 2019 - 07:17
Hi did u end up having your baby I'm getting a blood transfusion now the 3rd one I'm scared there is still heart best I'm 18weeks any advice please I beg anyone
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 Chelsea (not verified) on 22 Nov 2019 - 00:29
How did things turn out?
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
By Jessica (not verified) on 9 Jul 2019 - 19:13
I'm 20 weeks water broke today there sending me home with antibiotics said if I make it to 22 weeks then they will admit me that sound nomoral or should I go to different hospital
By Noreen James (not verified) on 11 Aug 2019 - 01:30
Im.from Tobago ws consider a high risk pregnancy patient at 23 wks my water broke because they found out my cervix ws open late and try to stitch me and my water broke after the procedure,i gt the baby the wk after the friday, ws a girl, nt an once if air she ws dead being tht it ws my first i had no one to guide me along to know wt are the mishaps, which i ws told afterwards i should hv been on bed rest from beginning, well i know nw
By Zanele (not verified) on 5 Jul 2019 - 20:43
Yes your baby has a greater chance of surviving
I wish i was able to reach atleast 26 weeks
Had contractions at 23 weeks and i was leaking
They tried to stop the contractions and the water from coming out. Got discharged after a week but went back the following day. The minute i got admitted my water broke. I was carrying twins. They were still trying to stop the contractions but on the third day i the contractions were very bad nd i miscarried by 2 girls. This was my first pregnancy. So you’re at a greater chance of surviving
By Wanda (not verified) on 11 May 2019 - 19:34
My waters broke 5 days ago I’m currently 34 weeks 4 days and I was kept in hospital for three days monitoring baby and myself for any infections and changes to baby I was given two steroid shots and antibiotics to keep any nasty infections away, I am now at home on antibiotics and daily trips to the hospital to check baby’s fluid levels and CTG scans. Booked in for two weeks time for c-section. I’m praying all is going to continue to be okay.
By Megan (not verified) on 29 Apr 2019 - 11:39
Hi, I had PPROM at 30 weeks and delivered my daughter at 31 weeks. She is now 17 months old and very happy & healthy. We are thinking about trying for another baby soon and I'm curious about whether anyone has carried to full term in subsequent pregnancies after experiencing PPROM in an earlier pregnancy.