Amniotic fluid is a clear, straw coloured liquid that surrounds the baby in the amniotic sac. It develops in the first trimester of your pregnancy and is essential for your baby’s survival. It helps you baby to:-
- Move in the womb which aids proper bone growth
- Helps the lungs develop
- Keeps the temperature pretty constant in the womb
- Provides a protective cushion to protect the baby from any blows or sudden movements
So how do you know if you’ve had a leak?
It could be amniotic fluid or it could be urine. Amniotic fluid has a sweet smell and maybe some colour. If you think you have leaked then wear a pad and keep an eye on the colour and smell of the leak. If the leak is dark green or black then head to your medical caregiver as it can be a sign of meconium (baby’s poo).
In most cases if you have started to leak fluid then your contractions should start within 24 hours.
If you start to feel unwell or feverish then head to the hospital. You can still have baths but avoid sexual intercourse.
Going to hospital
If you decide to go and get yourself checked out then you will have a visual check with a speculum with a test of the waters (this about 90% reliable). You will probably be placed on the foetal heart monitor for 20 minutes to check the baby’s heart rate and to see if you are having contractions (yes you can be having contractions and not feeling them!). There will then be a conversation about what to do next.
If it is amniotic fluid then it depends on the hospital policy – some may keep you in for an induction to take place within 24 hours (if you don’t go into labour in that time) and others may ask you to go home and come back in 2-3 days if nothing has happened.
So does the water come out in a gush or a trickle?
It all depends on how the baby is laying to be honest. Some mums will have that ‘pop,’ and their waters break dramatically and others won’t even know it’s happened, others may just have a feeling of wetness and think they they have wet themselves. Some have the baby and its all gone!
If your baby is breech and you have a leak then you need to go to hospital. With a breech presentation there is more chance of the cord being underneath the baby (called a cord prolapse). This can cause issues as every time you have a contraction than the cord gets pressed which means that the baby can be deprived of oxygen. If you leak fluid and the baby is not engaged yet or you are before 37 week then go and see your doctor.