Ruptured amniotic sac: what to do if the membranes rupture?

When your waters break, you are in the labor phase, whether you are in labor or not. What happens when a membrane ruptures? When does the membrane rupture? Is it dangerous for your baby and what is the best way to deal with it? We answer all these questions for you here.

During pregnancy, your baby is surrounded by the amniotic sac filled with amniotic fluid. This protects it from bumps and infections. If the amniotic sac has burst, this is referred to as a ruptured membrane.

What happens when the amniotic sac ruptures?

As soon as the mucus plug detaches and the cervix opens, the now unprotected placenta (the so-called placenta) can be injured . When the placenta is injured, the amniotic sac ruptures or tears, causing leakage of amniotic fluid. The discharge can be either gush-like or dropwise. This event is known as a ruptured membrane.

Does it hurt when the waters break?

You don’t have to be afraid of the membrane rupture, because it doesn’t hurt. The amniotic sac doesn’t have nerves running through it, so you won’t find the rupture painful. Many pregnant women only notice it when a warm, clear liquid escapes. The amniotic fluid is odorless and almost colorless. Unlike urine, you can’t keep amniotic fluid inside you.

When does a ruptured membrane occur?

The rupture of membranes is a sign that childbirth is beginning and usually happens spontaneously after the onset of labor pains , when the cervix is ​​already very dilated. In this case one speaks of a timely rupture of membranes. However, the rule is not always the case and it can also lead to premature or premature rupture of membranes .

  • Premature rupture of membranes: The amniotic sac bursts before labor begins.
  • Premature rupture of membranes: The amniotic sac ruptures after the onset of labor but before the onset of the expulsion phase.
  • Timely rupture of membranes: The amniotic sac bursts after labor has started during the expulsion phase.
  • High rupture of membranes: If the amniotic sac is torn high up, the amniotic fluid often only comes out in droplets. Sometimes the amniotic fluid leaks again during childbirth (two-stage rupture of membranes).

In rare cases, midwives or the attending gynecologist will open the amniotic sac to facilitate or speed up the delivery. This process is known as amniotic sac rupture and is subject to strict regulations.

Why can the amniotic sac burst?

In most women, the waters rupture when labor begins. But there can also be other reasons for this. There are four possible causes of a ruptured membrane:

  • Beginning of labor: With the onset of labor pains, the amniotic sac usually bursts and fluid leaks out.
  • Predisposition: The likelihood of ruptured membranes can be genetic. This is because the thickness of the membrane of the amniotic sac is inherited. A thin membrane tears faster.
  • Increased pressure: A multiple pregnancy can increase the pressure on the amniotic sac and encourage rupture of membranes.
  • Subsequent pregnancies after ruptured membranes: After a birth with ruptured membranes, the risk of getting pregnant again is increased.
  • Infections: In some cases, infections of the vagina can cause the amniotic sac to tear and rupture.

Is ruptured membranes dangerous for your baby?

Usually, the membranes rupture only during childbirth. At this point, you are probably already in your chosen birthing facility and the risks to you and your baby are very small. At the hospital, you and your unborn baby will be monitored to make sure you and the baby are healthy. By being placed in a lying position, the umbilical cord is prevented from slipping after the amniotic fluid has passed, thus preventing possible complications during childbirth.

In rare cases, membranes may rupture earlier. Unfortunately, this can be dangerous for your baby:

  • 3rd – 20th week of pregnancy: Since the chances of survival for your baby are very poor in these weeks and to protect you from infections, an active termination of the pregnancy is often recommended.
  • 20th – 24th week of pregnancy: The bursting of the amniotic sac during this time often leads to a miscarriage. Otherwise, medication is used to try to protect the baby from infections and promote its development. For you, that would mean absolute bed rest until you give birth.
  • 24th – 28th week of pregnancy: Drugs are used to protect the baby from infections, to promote its development and to inhibit early contractions. In rare cases, the bladder rupture spontaneously closes.
  • 28th – 32nd week of pregnancy: If the membranes rupture during this time, it must be decided individually whether conservative treatment (drug therapy) is used or the child is delivered.
  • From the 32nd week of pregnancy: During this time, in most cases , birth is induced or the baby is delivered by caesarean section .

What to do if the amniotic sac bursts at home?

If you notice the leakage of amniotic fluid or you are not quite sure whether it is amniotic fluid, then assume a lying position – as far as the circumstances allow you. Make yourself comfortable so as not to unnecessarily endanger your baby. Remain calm and then contact a birthing facility or your midwife to discuss next steps.

What to do if the amniotic sac bursts on the way?

It’s quite possible that your waters will burst while you’re out. But don’t worry, you won’t suddenly be standing in a gigantic puddle like you often see in Hollywood films. The amniotic fluid usually drains slowly, in some women only drop by drop. In such a case, it is important to remain calm and to contact your partner and your midwife to decide what is best to do now.

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