Can your water break without being dilated? Yes, the water can break sometimes without any dilation of the cervix. As there is no codependency between your cervix and the Amniotic sac, your water can break anytime. Generally, when your water breaks it marks the beginning of your labor and you’ll soon deliver your baby. Breaking of your water is followed by contractions getting stronger. It is your body’s way of preparing your birth canal for the baby to be pushed out of your uterus(womb).
Medical intervention is needed if your water breaks before you reach full term or 37 weeks of pregnancy.
But what is this water? And what connection does this water have with your baby? Let’s find the answer to these questions.
1. What is an Amniotic Sac and Amniotic Fluid?
During pregnancy, the growing baby is surrounded by a transparent fluid-filled sac, called the amniotic sac, which comprises a couple of membranes. This amniotic sac provides protection and nourishment to the baby throughout the pregnancy. The fluid present in the cavity inside the amniotic sac is called the Amniotic fluid which is a clear, pale yellow coloured fluid.
For the healthy growth and development of the baby inside the womb, Amniotic fluid is vital. It has many important functions including the exchange of nutrients, and antibodies from the mother, providing cushioning and protecting the baby from mechanical shocks and injuries, and a bouyant medium for the baby to move around freely in the later stages of pregnancy. An optimal amount of the fluid is needed inside the sac in a uterus for a complication-free pregnancy.
2. What is Meant by Dilation?
During pregnancy, as the baby grows and develops inside you, your body prepares itself for the birth. Many biochemical and physiological changes occur in your body once you reach your third trimester. One of these is dilation of the cervix, which happens when you go into labor. The term dilation simply means to expand. Your cervix dilates to deliver the baby out of your body into the world. Some women experience the dilation of the cervix earlier in their pregnancies. There are three stages of labor which are marked by important events of childbirth. These include:
- The active labor stage is the first stage – the cervix is dilated between 1cm to 10cm
- Second stage – the dilation of 10cm followed by delivery
- Third stage – the placenta is delivered after the delivery of the baby
3. How Do You Know If Your Water has Broken?
For every woman water breaks are quite a unique experience. However, in real life, it is certainly not as dramatic as it is shown in the movies. So, how do you understand if your water has broken, what does the water breaking feel like and what does it look like usually? Let us learn about some of the signs of waterbreaking experienced by most women that you may experience:
- A feeling of sudden gush or slow trickle of fluid from your vagina which is odorless and almost colorless.
- You can feel the presence of fluid in your underwear or slow leak down your leg in either small or larger amounts.
- Uncontrollable, thin, and watery leakage from your vagina which you can’t hold in.
- The labor contractions seem stronger once you feel your watery fluid start leaking.
3.1. What Causes Your Water to Break?
Doctors and Healthcare Professionals don’t quite know the reason behind it. However, it is believed that it might happen due to the signaling coming from the baby’s brain or the mother’s hormones may lead to the water break.
4. Can Your Water Break Without Being Dilated Early?
Yes, your water can break earlier in your pregnancy before you reach your third trimester(full-term). This is called the Premature Rupture of the Membranes(PROM). It happens in 8% to 12% of pregnancies and there are a few reasons that can contribute to ruptured membranes.
The Possible Causes For the Early Water Break or the Premature Rupture of the Membranes(PROM) are
4.1. Can Your Water Break Without Being Dilated Because You’re Being Underweight and Having Poor Nutrition throughout Pregnancy?
Low body mass index and nutritional deficiencies of copper and ascorbic acid and other vitamins and minerals during pregnancy lead to early labor due to rupture of membranes or PPROM.
4.2. Previous Preterm Births Can Cause You to Water Break Without Being Dilated.
Previous preterm births, also known as preterm prelabor rupture of the membranes PPROM. Women with a previous early preterm birth have a 25% risk for preterm birth in a subsequent gestation(pregnancy).
4.3. Can Your Water Break Without Being Dilated Due to Inflammation and Infection?
Yes, infection and inflammation both can cause water to break. Infection of the amniotic fluid, intra-amniotic infection, or the inflammation of the fetal membranes, can lead to a higher risk of preterm premature rupture. During an inflammation, inflammatory responses such as prostaglandins and other substances are secreted simultaneously and their overproduction can cause uterine contractions once the contractions start you go into labor, contributing to untimely fetal expulsion and early birth(before 37 weeks pregnant). Therefore, an aberrant activation of the mother’s inflammatory response can be detrimental as it may cause premature labor.
4.4. Can Your Water Break Without Being Dilated Because of Short Cervical Length?
Having a short cervical length during pregnancy relates to the chance of you having a preterm(early or premature) birth of the baby due to a prelabour rupture of membranes. So, yes, the cervix length is one of the critical factors for early water break. The length of the cervix must be equal to or more than 25mm(2.5cm) long, cervix length lesser than that is considered short. The shorter the cervix, the higher the risk of water breaks and premature birth(earlier than 37 weeks pregnant).
4.5. Experiencing Vaginal Bleeding
Experiencing vaginal bleeding in the second and third trimesters is associated with an increased risk of preterm delivery. Vaginal bleeding anytime during the nine months affects up to 25% of all pregnancies. Some adverse outcomes include low weight after the baby is born and miscarriage besides preterm delivery.
4.6. Smoking During Pregnancy
Smoking during pregnancy is one of the common and biggest risk factors for premature or preterm birth and early water break. It is well-known that smoking affects fertility and causes the individual to become more infertile with its increased consumption. It is yet another fact suggested by medical professionals that smoking creates risks during pregnancy and delivery.
Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to deliver their babies early. Smoking also doubles the risk of abnormal bleeding while giving birth and puts the life of both the mother and the baby in danger. Smoking is one of the reasons for babies born with birth defects like cleft lip.
You should seek advice from your midwife or healthcare provider if your water breaks early or if possible go to the hospital.
5. What Happens After Your Water Has Broken?
If you’re in any doubt about your labor and whether it has begun, consult your doctor or midwife. Your healthcare team will be able to help you with your doubts after they do a physical exam.
Your water can break before or during the labor begins. Once you suspect your water has broken, make a note of the time and contact your healthcare provider. Contractions typically start after water breaks. If it’s time to go to the hospital, have all your essentials, such as a sanitary pad, and medical history records, packed along with your birth plan.
In some cases when your water doesn’t break, your healthcare provider may need to intervene to help induce labor. Healthcare providers do this by rupturing the amniotic sac during a vaginal exam to avoid delayed delivery by a procedure known as Amniotomy. You will experience more and more fluid gushing.
As your cervix prepares for your labor, you will lose the mucus plug, which prevents bacteria or infection from entering your uterus and reaching the baby. Your pain receptors are triggered and you will experience contractions followed by pain.
6. The Bottom Line – Can Your Water Break Without Being Dilated?
Your water can break due to a lot of reasons. Some can be completely natural and normal while few of them are of health concerns to both the baby and mother, but it is important that whatever the reason may be, it is taken well care of.
It is essential to keep in mind that every pregnancy is a unique and beautiful experience. No matter how the water breaks it is a signal that your baby is ready to come into the world and meet you. So, do not panic, take a deep breath, and contact your healthcare provider or national health service once your labor starts and welcome your little one.