By: Naomi Starsiak,

I have a YouTube playlist that is filled with clips from movies and TV shows that I call “Bad Births”.

In several of these videos, you see a pregnant woman going about her day when she suddenly gets a surprised look on her face and the camera cuts to the floor to show a puddle of water at her feet. The woman is instantly puffing and panting while a frantic, befuddled father/best friend/relative rush around looking for the car keys because this woman is going to have a baby any second!

In reality labor generally starts with small, short, spaced out contractions that gradually get stronger, longer, and closer together. After labor has been going on for a while the water breaks –and honestly, it feels more like you’ve peed a little bit.

But there are times when the water will break first and no contractions follow. This is called premature rupture of membranes (PROM) and it happens in about 8-10% of births, but what to do if this happens to you?

A lot of the hospital policies on PROM come from research that was done in the 1950’s and 60’s, which says that no woman should go longer than 24 hours between water breaking and birth the baby because the chance of infection and fever set in was just too great a risk which leads to hospitals pushing induction measures or advising a C-section.

However, in the 60 years since then, science has moved forward in leaps and bounds. We now know that labor will start for about half the women with PROM within 12 hours after the water breaking and most will start labor by 24 hours, so we don’t really need to use medication to get things going or have a C-section to avoid infection.

The risk of infection can be managed with a simple course of IV antibiotics – something that was not offered to those moms in the 1960’s! If you find your water has broken but no contractions are coming don’t let outdated hospital policy dictate what happens, ask your doctor for a full list of options and the risks involved.

NOTE: If your water breaks and it is a gush, call your medical provider immediately.

Naomi Starsiak is a birth and postpartum doula, a placenta encapsulator, a natural birth consultant, and the co-owner of A Peaceful Birth doula & childbirth service. You can find her on Facebook at facebook.com/APeacefulBirthDoulas.
Or E-mail it to Naomi at nestarsiak@gmail.com.

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