Accouchement : ce qu'il faut savoir sur la perte des eaux

Childbirth: What You Need to Know About Water Breaking

“Pregnant women often have questions about childbirth, particularly concerning the breaking of the water. Some may fear that it’s very painful. Rest assured, neither the spontaneous rupture of the membranes nor artificial rupture is painful. In any case, when you notice a significant flow of liquid, it’s essential to head to the maternity ward as soon as possible.”

As the due date approaches, expectant mothers wonder where and how their water will break. It can happen at any moment, be it in the middle of the night, on the couch, or even in a public place, although in most cases, it occurs at the maternity ward.

At term, the volume of amniotic fluid is around 1 to 1.5 liters. Therefore, if you lose such a substantial amount of water, you will usually know what’s happening as your clothes will be very wet. However, it’s not always easy to recognize if it’s indeed the water breaking because during the late stages of pregnancy, vaginal secretions increase, and sometimes, the amniotic sac may rupture slightly, causing a mild leakage over several hours.

As for amniotic fluid, it consists of 90% water, is odorless, and transparent. But if you notice that the fluid is colored, it could be an early sign of a fetal illness. In such cases, you should promptly head to the maternity ward.

What happens when the water breaks spontaneously?

The breaking of the water near the end of your pregnancy indicates that you’ll be giving birth soon. To date, we still don’t fully understand the mechanism that causes the membranes to rupture when labor hasn’t yet begun. Generally, the amniotic sac ruptures spontaneously when contractions occur, and the cervix is dilated between 2 and 5 cm.

In any case, it’s time to go to the maternity ward because there’s a risk of the baby developing infections. Furthermore, in some rare cases, the umbilical cord may slip into the vagina ahead of the baby’s head. This presents a significant risk as the umbilical cord can become compressed, limiting the baby’s access to oxygen. This condition is known as ‘cord prolapse.

Why do we need to rupture the amniotic sac?

The dilation of the uterine cervix depends on the amniotic sac. However, if labor isn’t progressing, the midwife can decide to rupture it by piercing it with a very fine clamp to allow the amniotic fluid to drain. There’s nothing to fear as this action is harmless to the baby, and you won’t feel any pain. As soon as the amniotic sac is ruptured, the expectant mother will feel that the contractions are becoming more intense. At this point, the baby’s head descends because there’s no longer any protection (amniotic fluid) holding it back, and it presses on the cervix. Generally, when the amniotic sac is ruptured manually, it releases prostaglandins, which aid in speeding up dilation.

If labor is progressing well, it’s not always necessary to rupture the amniotic sac. It will naturally burst during the expulsion, making it easier for the baby to be born.

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