You’re at the home stretch – just a few more weeks (or days) until you can finally meet your little one. You can’t wait any longer. Can you break your water and kick-start the labor process? How do you even know when your water breaks?
Before we answer these questions, we want to make one thing clear: breaking your own water is not advised by doctors. It can put both you and your baby in danger.
Table of Contents
- How Do You Know When Your Water Breaks?
- Can You Break Your Water?
- 5 Reasons Not to Break Your Water
- 3 Tips to Induce Labor Naturally
How Do You Know When Your Water Breaks?
If this is your first pregnancy, you may be wondering what it feels like when your water breaks. Despite what you may have seen in movies, water usually doesn’t come “gushing” out. In reality, the event is far less dramatic. That may be why some women are unsure of whether their water has really broken.
Only a small percentage of women experience a surprise gush of water just before going into labor. But just like anything else in life, the feeling and experience is different for every mom-to-be.
Here’s what you may experience:
- A gush of water.
- A popping sound (or feeling), followed by a large gush of fluid.
- A trickle of fluid.
- Small gushes.
There’s no definitive feeling or experience – anything from a trickle to a large gush of water is possible when your water breaks.
Can You Break Your Water?
Is it even possible to break your water? Yes – but only with the help of your doctor. There are no safe ways to break your water at home.
There are ways to help induce labor (more on that soon), which would cause your water to break naturally. But there are no safe ways to break your water without the help of your doctor. And even then, physicians are extremely cautious about interfering with the labor process, as it can cause complications for both you and your little one.
5 Reasons Not to Break Your Water
If you’re nearing or past your due date, your pregnancy may be reaching the point of being unbearable. But if you’ve yet to go into labor, take that as a sign that your baby is just not ready to come into this world yet.
You will not be pregnant forever.
But if you’re still not convinced, here are 5 reasons not to break your own water.
① One Intervention Leads to Another
Doctors can break your water (we’ll talk about that shortly), but they typically only do so in extreme circumstances. There are very few instances when inducing labor is a good idea. Why? Because one intervention leads to another, and another, and another. This cascade of interventions can be dangerous for both you and the baby.
Doctors still don’t know what internal criteria needs to be met for labor to naturally start. Some research has shown that the baby’s brain is actually responsible for triggering labor. But it’s a safe bet that your baby is simply not ready for delivery if you haven’t gone into labor.
② Your Baby May Not Be Fully Developed
You might assume that your baby is 100% developed by the time you reach your final week or final days of pregnancy. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Every day is valuable for your baby’s development. Your little one develops and grows more in the final stages of pregnancy. She’s putting on more fat, and her lungs are continuing to develop. Even her brain gets a big growth spurt in the final weeks of pregnancy.
③ It May Cause Your Baby Distress
There is some evidence that ARM (Artificial Rupture of Membranes), the process of breaking the water artificially by doctors, can cause the baby distress. Compression of the baby, placenta and/or the cord can occur. This alters fetal vascular flow, which suggests a fetal stress response after ARM.
Breaking your water artificially can also make contraction pain more intense, which results in more moms asking for epidurals.
④ Your Baby May Lose Oxygen or Blood
There is a chance that the umbilical cord will be swept down by the water, and wind up becoming wedged between the baby’s head or past her head. This is what doctors call a “cord prolapse” and is a dire emergency.
When the cord becomes compressed, it stops the flow of oxygen to the baby and requires an emergency C-section.
There is also a chance that your baby may lose a lot of blood. In some cases, the ARM procedure can rupture a blood vessel running through the membranes, which would cause the baby to lose blood volume very quickly. This is another emergency situation, and one that requires immediate intervention.
⑤ You’re at Greater Risk of Infection
Moms (not babies) are at a slightly greater risk of infection when the ARM procedure is performed. While not the biggest concern on this list, it is a possible consequence. The risk of infection can be minimized if nothing is put into the vagina during the labor process.
If breaking your water is a bad idea, is there anything you can do to naturally induce labor?
If you’re near or past your due date, there are some things you can do to kick-start the labor process naturally – no intervention required.
① Go for a Walk
Walking is one of the tried-and-true ways to induce labor. While you’re walking, gravity is hard at work, drawing your baby down into your pelvis. This puts pressure on your pelvis and may prepare your cervix for labor.
If you’re already feeling contractions, walking can help labor progress.
② Have Sex
Sex may be the furthest thing from your mind, but it’s an effective way to get labor going. Sperm contains prostaglandins, a hormone that helps dilate and thin the cervix.
If nothing else, you’ll at least relieve some of that tension you’ve been carrying around.
③ Evening Primrose Oil
Many midwives recommend using evening primrose oil to help induce labor. This herb can help to thin and dilate the cervix, which will prepare your body for labor. The oil can be taken in capsule form or rubbed in oil form onto your cervix. Be sure to ask your doctor or midwife about using evening primrose oil.
Breaking your own water is a bad idea – there is no known safe method to do so. Unfortunately, there are horror stories of moms who manage to break their water, but wind up losing their babies or creating an emergency situation that needs immediate intervention.