SROM (Sh-rom) aka Spontaneous Rupture of Membranes or in layman’s terms most people know it is simply as “your waters breaking” and refers to the fluid-filled bag of waters surrounding your baby breaking.
This is a topic I am often asked during classes; When will my waters break? and what does it feel like? The first answer is really at any time during your labour and birth. It can also happen pre-labour from 37 weeks with spontaneous onset of labour commencing 24-48 hours afterward in 70 to 85% of cases. AND it can also happen prematurely before 37 weeks or artificially (where it is broken for you) but for the purpose of this post we will focus on SROM in labour at term (37 weeks +)
So at what stage of your labour? Again anytime! As mentioned it can happen just before your labour kicks off (8% of pregnancies) or at the beginning of labour (10-15% of pregnancies). It can also happen at the very end during the pushing stage (as pictured, in 75% of pregnancies). You may feel this popping sensation as it happens and a large gush of warm fluid or you may only notice what we call a slow leak where just a trickle of fluid/dampness is felt. In both cases the release of fluid will be continuous.
If you are wondering if it was the real deal or a wee accident (particularly pre-labour or in the early stages) pop a pad on (not a tampon) and remember the mnemonic COAT as this information will be asked by your caregiver:
- Colour: is it clear, a pale straw colour or pink tinged
- Odour: amniotic fluid is relatively odourless with a sometimes sweet smell to it
- Amount: a gush or a trickle?
- Time: take note of the time
How does it feel?
As mentioned you may experience a strange popping sensation followed by a gush or just a trickle. Some women don’t notice when it happens but rather just discover an excess of vaginal secretions. In all cases your waters breaking will be painless as there are no pain receptors in the amniotic sac.
It is very rarely like the movies where a woman is in the supermarket and the mighty force of Niagara Falls cascades between her legs! It is more commonly during labour due to the pressure on the cervix or in the middle of the night when you wake to go to the toilet. It’s a good idea to have a waterproof mattress protector in place for this reason and it never hurts to have a spare towel or two in the back of your car.
Think of it as an exciting discovery! It’s all part of your beautiful story! For the Mama’s who have experienced this before, how was it for you?