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Water Breaking, Spontaneously

I’m terrified my water is going to break in the grocery store. How likely is that, really?

Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: Almost all pregnant women worry that their water will break at some awful and embarrassing time, such as standing in line at the grocery store.

The truth is, outside of sit-coms on TV, a woman’s water breaking at some inopportune moment hardly ever happens! Only 10 percent of women have their water break—medically this is called “rupture of membranes”—before their labor begins. Many women actually need to have to have their water broken in the hospital to move their labor along. It’s done with a knitting-needle like tool. No, it doesn’t hurt a bit!

The other reason this myth is so unlikely is that when your water does break on its own, it’s not likely to be a gush of liquid. Instead, it usually is a trickle, giving you plenty of time to reach a bathroom.

In any event, if you think that your water has broken, call your midwife or doctor right away. That sac of water has been surrounding and protecting your baby from the beginning of your pregnancy. The fluid cushions your baby to keep him safe and protects him from infection. When it’s gone, it’s either time to deliver or you’ll need medical care to extend your pregnancy.

Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, a mother of three sons, family practice physician, and coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth

The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.