Water broke, no contractions

For a small number of women, the excitement of their water breaking at the end of pregnancy is quickly dulled by the realization that there are no contractions. After waiting, and waiting, and waiting, there are still no contractions. This is called PROM, or premature rupture of membranes, which refers to the bag of water around the baby breaking before the woman’s body is ready to initiate labor. For the purposes of this article, I am only refering to women who are term, or, at least 37 weeks pregnant.

For example, a friend of mine reently had her second child. Each one of her births ended in a cesarean after PROM for more than a day, even with Pitocin augmentation and trips home to rest. Perhaps after taking apart her birth stories bit by bit we might find potential causes or solutions that may have worked to lead to vaginal birth, but the fact remains that for the few women whose water breaks and labor doesn’t begin, there is little information available from which they can gain ideas on how to handle the situation, and research on how to make safe decisions about it. And that’s where I come in.

As you anticipate the birth of your child, you should be familiar with this possibility, because it is situations like this when moms wish they knew more ahead of time so they would know what to do.

If your water breaks, your response will probably be to call your care provider. And your care provider will probably tell you to go to the hospital so they can “check you” and monitor the baby. With labor presumed to be just around the corner, you will probably react to this “doctor’s order” as exciting. You’ll pack your bag (if you haven’t already), call your partner, and drop off your older children at your mom’s. Then you’ll go straight to the hospital. If you’re birth is like many women’s you’ll begin having contractions soon after your water breaks and your birth will progress efficiently and soon you’ll be holding your baby in your arms.

But for some women, and statistically, you may be one of them, you go to the hospital only to discover that your body is not in labor, and today may not be the day afterall. Your care provider will probably order a prostaglandin cervical softener or pitocin induction. The clock is now ticking because standard protocol is that the baby must be born within 36, 24, or even 12 hours after your water breaks, for fear that infection may ensue.

But is this evidence-based care? Will you or your baby get sick if your water is broken too long before s/he is born? You may get a few quick answers from your care provider, but if you know ahead of time what to expect you’ll have much more control over how your birth is handled.

First, when a woman’s water breaks, most babies who are positioned well, will move further down into the pelvis because the water bag is no longer holding them up. This increased pressure will trigger the release of oxytocin, the labor hormone, which will initiate contractions. The time between when the water breaks and contractions begin coming in earnest is unknown. For most women whose water breaks before contractions begin, they will give birth within 24 hours. Some may not begin labor until the second day has passed, and a slight few will wait three or four days before their baby is born, but 90% will give birth within a four day period.

Women who will not give birth within a few days will obviously need help in starting their labors, but the question is, how long is it safe to wait, and is it better just to induce labor if contractions won’t come within a “reasonable” time period?

Here are some studies and reports I have found on the subject, in no particular order. Please review for yourself so that you will be fully informed:

  • Cochrane Database says planned management (pitocin and antibiotics) is probably safer then expectant management (waiting for contractions)
  • The British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reported that women having the first baby were more likely to have a normal vaginal delivery if they were allowed to wait up to two days before administering pitocin, and when combined with no dilation checks until active labor began, there was no increased risk of infection to mother or child.
  • Seaward (1998) reported that infection rates were 4% when it took 24 hours or more to begin labor, compared to 2% when inducing immediately.
  • Hannah (1996) found that infections in babies and the rate of cesarean section were similar whether they waited for labor to begin or induced with oxytocin immediately, although the rate of maternal infections was higher when no pitocin was administered until four days after membrane rupture.
  • The risk of chorioamnionitis with term PROM has been reported to be less than 10% and to increase to 40% after 24 hours of PROM. Am J Obstet Gynecol. Nov 1997;177(5):1024-9.
  • The neonatal risks of expectant management up to four days after PROM include infection, placental abruption, fetal distress, fetal restriction deformities and pulmonary hypoplasia, and fetal/neonatal death. Fetal death does occur in approximately .01% of patients with PROM who have been expectantly managed. Clin Obstet Gynecol. Dec 1999;42(4):749-56.
  • The Journal of Perinatal Medicine conducted a small clinical trial which resulted in 23% of the induced labors following PROM resulting in either cesareans or operative vaginal deliveries compared to only 10% of those who waited up to two days before inducing. They also found that those who were induced were more likely to use epidurals (41%) compared to those who waiting up to two days (24%). 
  • The Global Library of Women’s Medicine reported in 2008 that women with a favorable cervix (those with a Bishop score of at least 6) had little to gain by delaying labor and they should be induced, and antibiotics should be administered if labor is expected to extend beyond 18 hours. On the other hand, if their cervix was “unfavorable” or had a Bishop score lower than 6, vaginal exams should be kept to a minimum and prostaglandins should be administered until the cervix is favorable.
  • In 1982, a study was published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine that showed a significant difference in outcomes when a woman’s cervix was unfavorable: 39% of women who were induced ended up with a cesarean, compared to only 12% of those who waited for labor. There were no deaths or infections as a result of expectant management, although there were complications from the cesareans.
  • A subsequent report by Duff and Colleagues, published in Obstetrics and Gynecology showed not only a significant difference in cesarean rates by management options (20% after induction, 4% after waiting), but there was also a 4x greater rate of infection among those who were induced.
  • In 1989, Wagner and associates published an article in Obstetrics and Gynecology issuing a warning, saying that although they found no difference in cesarean and maternal infection rates, more babies were getting sepsis after delaying induction.
  • Next came Guise in American Journal of Perinatology in 1992 which showed that maternal infection, cesareans, longer hospital stay, and infant sepsis were all more common in the induction test group.
  • In 1995, Shalev published a report in Obstetrics and Gynecology which showed a significant increase in induction rates when waiting only 12 hours for labor compared to 72, although there was no big difference in cesarean, maternal infection, or neonatal infection rates. Those who were not induced (at least not immediately) stayed an average one day later in the hospital, and on this note the author recommended immediate induction following PROM for financial reasons.

Clearly this is not a black and white issue. Whether you accept an immediate induction after your water breaks, or whether you choose to delay intervention to give your body a chance, you face risks. Studies that have been done on the issue often don’t agree with each other, some saying there is no difference in outcomes between expectant and managed care, while others say there is a BIG difference. And except for one survey, none have thought to consider the psychological impact of either option. Henci Goer and Midwife Thinking are the only two places I have found reviews of the studies pointing out their major flaws, bringing into question standard protocol.

The end result is that when your doctor or midwife tells you that you must be induced because your water has broken, you must ask questions. Are you low risk? Is your baby head down and facing your back? Is your cervix soft, thin, and loose? Do you have good hygiene and nutrition? If so, waiting until labor begins may be just as safe as being induced right away. And we already know that induction carries serious risks. You need to consider both sides before you can make an informed decision.

If you decide to wait it out, here are some ways you can lower your risk of infection, and help yourself to have a better birth experience.

  • Wear Depends! I know it seems so silly, but when I gave birth to my third child, my water broke right before contractions began. Wearing Depends made me much more comfortable to walk around the house and relax without worrying about leaking.
  • Sleep. This is your last chance to relax before the work of labor begins.
  • Do not put anything into your vagina. Your vagina is a sterile environment until something is inserted, and even sterile gloves inserted can carry bacteria from the vaginal outlet up the vaginal canal.
  • If a vaginal examination is absolutely necessary sterile gloves must be used. Remember that even one cervical exam by your care provider increases your risk of infection, especially if the time between the first exam and birth exceeds 24 hours.
  • Boost your immune system with vitamin C, echinacea, and garlic.
  • Connect with your baby, listen to your body. Consider whether there is something bothering you that would prevent your body from starting labor.
  • Tell your care provider if you are feeling at all unwell – a high temperature, a fast pulse, the amniotic fluid changes color or smell, and any reduction in the baby’s movements.
  • Consider Acupuncture and Bowen Therapy, nipple and clitoral stimulation, to encourage contractions. If your cervix is ready it may be enough to kick start labor.
  • Trust your body. Birth will happen.
  • After your baby is born keep your baby skin-to-skin with you at all times to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Make sure your baby’s heart rate is checked at least once a day to ensure that there is no cord compression.
  • Remember that a low amniotic fluid index of less than 2cm is not alone an indication for immediate delivery unless other means of fetal surveillance are nonreasurring.
  • Also remember that having your white blood count checked periodically to monitor for infection will not predict the outcome of your birth. It is only useful if other signs of infection require a confirmation of illness. If signs of infection are present, it will be safer to induce immediately.
  • Try to confirm the baby’s position. If baby’s head is well-applied to your cervix, having the cord compressed is unlikely. If baby is high up or not head down, it may be safer to have continuous monitoring to ensure that the cord is not compressed.
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  1. Hi,
    I had my first baby at 39 years old. My waters started trickling on a monday morning. I did not want induced so did not call my midwife.
    I ate raw garlic every day (not echinacea which is not advisable in pregnancy) and showered. I did not bathe incase it introduced infection. I listened for my baby and was comforted by the movement. I also tried to meditate/relax to keep calm and not get anxious. My waters kept trickling and every further day I said to myself if I don’t go into labour today I will phone my midwife. But I did not, I trusted in my intuition everything was ok. My waters kept trickling until Friday when I finally went into labour which in total only lasted 8 hours. I only called my midwife two hours before I gave birth to my beautiful daughter at home with no pain killers or drugs or gas or anything I was 8cm dilated. I obviously did not even tell my midwifes when the waters broke as they are so over the top in wanting everything to be by the book for health care reasons. They think my waters broke in labour!
    I just wanted to share this so other women can know that you can have your waters burst not go into labour straightaway and still have a natural birth without being induced. It was the most empowering, amazing moment of my life!
    I did have a safe and normal pregnancy throughout though! I would not recommend waiting if you were unsure, high risk or had complications in your pregnancy. There was definitely a large amount of trust going on between me and the gods. Im currently due to give birth to my second and hoping it is just as positive.

    1. What a beautiful story my dear! I wish I had so much faith in myself, my body and my doctors. Check my story out and please send me some comments

    2. I love your story and I feel really inspired by it, the problem is I am all alone in this, my husband doesn’t support me at all, and thinks I am crazy by considering putting my baby in danger, not to say my family or his. This is my second pregnancy, the first, water broke no contractions, c-section cause I ran right into see the doc, and well you can imagine the rest, I have never been able to feel pleased about my decesion and I wish I had known what I do today, I couldn’t even see my baby cause I was so drugged up, or feed her after the c-section, anyway, my doubt is will I be able to do it all on my own? I know this is a personal question but having other women’s support or opinion makes me feel less lonely on this. Thank you for reading.

      1. Thank you for sharing Cari! Deciding how to give birth after a cesarean is certainly not easy. There is so much information out there about what a woman should do, and no clear answer for everyone. I would suggest starting by typing in planned cesarean and vbac in the search box on this blog to find more posts that might be helpful to you. If you still have questions, feel free to email me at kilbrethfamily@yahoo.com

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  3. Thank you for a well researched article. The links are very useful.
    With my second baby my BOW started leaking a little bit on a Monday morning. I didn’t think much of it and didn’t call my doctor. Tue still nothing happened and the same for Wednesday. I did have my regular check up that day, I was 39wk 3days at that point. I did tellmy doctor then that my water bag had been leaking a little since Monday. She did not do a vaginal exam, just caught some of the fluid to check it really was amniotic fluid, which it was. I then was sent to the hospital and given a pitocin drip.
    I was able to talk with my nurse and explain to her how i felt and what my goals were. She was great and respected my wishes while still carrying out the doctors orders. I was given pitocin, but because my body was ready to get started it was not as big a deal as I had been worried about. I was still able to labor naturally, 3 hours after starting the pit it was tuned off and another 2.5 hours after that my son was born.
    I feel that if I had aclled my doc on Monday and been put on the ‘clock’ and been induced then, the whole experience would have been very different. Those 2 extra days is just what my body and baby needed to get ready. I too listened to my intuition, checked my temperature for possible signs of infection and made sure the fluid was clear. It all worked out just fine.

    1. What a great story Katja! Sometimes making that decision to induce can be stressful, with the unknowns of how it labor will progress and feel, etc. but knowing that your water breaking is not an emergency is such a relief to so many women that I just had to share this info.

  4. thanks for all your research. from my experience as a maternity nurse, it appears that women who come in with PROM, their baby is OP. so working on repositioning the baby might be useful.
    at an out of hospital birthing center, i used to work at, it was great that women got to stay home after making sure baby was ok and most would come in in labor in a few days. can remember only one woman who came in with a fever, then went to the hospital to deliver. I am sad that when women come to the hospital we are so antsy to act. funny story recently, women came in with her membranes released and no labor. it was her second baby and her cervix was 3cm the day before. we waited and the midwife was supposed to come back to assess. she got tied up and came in later and wow, labor kicked in and lasted about 2 hrs! she walked, rested and ate earlier and we chatted, so glad it worked out that way.

    1. I agree, PROM does seem to be more common with malalignment, and vice versa. Spinningbabies.com is a great place to start if a woman is having a hard time getting help turning her baby, but it is great to hear from nurses who are calm in such scenarios, anecdote offer helpful advice like yours!

  5. This was a great read for me because I had PROM with light early contractions. For a few hours, the contractions intensified on and off but never into active labor, and then disappeared almost completely. I was GBS positive so we decided to augment with pitocin 12 hours after PROM and my son was born 10 hours later, so 22 hours after ruptured membranes. Luckily the midwife let me hold off on antibiotics until active labor so I ended up with two doses total. But it was discovered rather late in the process that his head was asynclitic (sp?) so I think that likely contributed to my body’s inability to go into real labor on its own within the “recommended” time frame. If I had known all this at the time I may have refused exam and tried some yoga or something to get him into a better position, but I was so tired already and terrified. In the end it all worked out and I was told I was very lucky to be a first-time delivery with PROM and bad head position to end up with a vaginal birth. It was not easy to stick with that pitocin for ten hours without an epidural but I’m so glad I did!

    1. Wow! 10 hours of pit with no epidural! You are a strong woman! I also had an asynclitic baby with my first two labors, which led to a week and two weeks of prodromal labor, no fun! Positioning of the baby, especially with PROM is so important. Thank you for sharing, I’m glad you were able to have the experience you wanted!

  6. Thank you all very much for these comments and for the well researched post. My waters broke this morning (today is due date) but there are not yet any strong signs of labour. Am adamant that I am going to have baby at home with as little intervention as possible and feeling very reassured to spend time resting, walking, etc and wait rather than contact midwife. Thank you for taking the time to explain something that is not really detailed elsewhere. kay

  7. My water broke at 40 wks 3 days for my first baby and I decided to wait for labor to start and not call my midwife. After 4 days without a single contraction, I went to my regular checkup where they verified through ultrasound that my fluid level (AFI) had dropped to almost zero. I was sent to the hospital that night for monitoring where baby had meconium, and was told that the baby needed to be born within 24 hours. My Bishop’s score was not favorable- I had no dilation and the baby had not dropped in the pelvis except a small amount from the waters breaking. I consulted with 3 doctors in addition to my midwife and all recommended a C-section. They said that induction had only about a 10% chance of success for me and 90% chance of resulting in C-section anyway. Based on this advice, I decided to skip the induction and had a C-section at 41 wks 1 day. This was not at all the way I envisioned my first delivery going, but I’m grateful that my baby was born in excellent health.

    1. Thank you for sharing Elle. We can plan all we want, and then life throws us curve balls and sometimes we have to make a decision based on all the info, without knowing if there is a “right” choice. And sometimes, even when we’ve done everything we could, our bodies still need help. Staying informed of our situations and all the options at least gives us a little more say in our births, and I hope you felt that way about your birth!

  8. My water broke before contractions for all three of my labors. First labor: water broke at 2:00 AM and contractions started (just lightly) at around noon the next day.Baby born at 2:05 AM, almost exactly 24 hours later. Second baby: water broke. Contractions started about 10 minutes later. Baby was born 90 minutes after my water broke. Third baby: water broke two weeks before contractions started. Yes, that’s right. Two weeks. I got to 10 cm pretty quickly, but then couldn’t push him out. Even though he was anterior, his head was asynclitic and I ended up with a cesarean. I don’t regret it (because as anyone knows, if you insist on waiting two weeks with PROM, you are committed to natural birth!), but I sure wish I had known his position at the end so I could have worked harder to reposition him in those two weeks! I was doing hundreds of pelvic rocks per day, but in hindsight, I would have seen a chiropractor and tried other things, too.

  9. thank you for the article it was very interesting. With both of my pregnancies my water broke on its own (strangely enough at the same time of morning which i find to be a funny coinscidence.) With my first pregnancy, My water broke, but i hadnt been having contractions and didnt start contractions ( at 39 weeks). My dr made me walk the halls of the maternity ward, and nothing. SO i ended up getting pitocin. Second time around I had been having braxton hicks for about 2 weeks, my water broke (at 38 weeks), but the contractions never picked up. I was dilated to about 2 for that whole 2 weeks too.I ended up getting pitocin then too. I didnt call the doc right away second time around the fluids where clear and i kinda new what to watch for, so i waited about 5 hours before i called ( i also had to wiat for my sister who was my ride to get my oldest and her son to school ) From reading your article it sounds like I had PROM could this be true? Is this something I should keep in mind for any future pregnancies, I know every pregnancy is different, but my labors and deliveries are so similar its pretty uncanny.

    1. For future pregnancies, you might consider taking extra supplements of vitamins E and C. Both have been found to reduce the incidence of PROM. Also, you may want to look into natural methods of inducing labor on the chance it does occur again, beginning with evening primrose oil. For some reason these things do sometimes happen no matter what you do to prevent them, so even if you try and you still end up with PROM, don’t feel guilty!

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    1. Thank you Jessica. I’m pretty sure we all wish we had known what to expect before giving birth, especially the first time! Perhaps this will help you next time?

    1. If you are not term you should call your care provider! Sometimes the membranes can reseal themselves, but if labor is imminent, steps should be taken to slow or stop the process, and if it doesn’t reseal, you could acquire a serious infection and endanger the baby. If you think your water has broken you need to get checked out, but the precautions for preventing infection remain the same in any case.

  11. This was an interesting article to read. Thank you. My water broke unexpectedly at 32 weeks and 2 days. I came to the hospital after talking to my nurse and here I sit now 33 weeks and 2 days pregnant and yet, no signs of labor. My cervix is closed and there are no contractions. Of course, I have been put on bed rest with antibiotics to prevent any infection and they monitor me and baby throughout the day. So far, both of us are doing very well. Though, my team of doctors have agreed that if my little guy doesn’t make an appearance by 34 weeks, they’re going to take him since they believe the risks out weight the benefits. He’s still breech so I will most likely end up with a c-section since they don’t believe there is enough fluid there for him to turn on his own and they believe turning him with a lack of fluid is too risky. This has definitely been one interesting labor for me, and one that I didn’t plan on but life can’t always be planned. As long as we’re both healthy, that’s all that will really matter to me in the end.

    1. Thank you for sharing Kasey, I’m sorry to hear that your water broke so early. Dealing with prematurely in addition to ROM with no labor is difficult and there are no easy answers. I would recommend drinking extra fluid, because even if you do need a cesarean, you can drink enough to increase your fluid level, which is constantly being replenished. At 34 weeks your little guy’s lungs will be much stronger, and as long as he is healthy he should recoup from an early birth fairly quickly. I wish you the best of luck!

  12. Hi

    My baby was born Feb.2012 . My water broke at 3.30 p.m. on Friday at the massage table. I called my doctors office at about 5.30 or 6.30 as I had guests at home. First I was told by the nurse on call that I should watch for contractions. Later at about 8.30 p.m. the nurse called me and said I should go get checked out. I went to the triage and got checked out. The doc. said I had ruptured and the monitoring showed I had contractions but at that point I didnt really feel them. I asked if I could go home and labor. He said sure. I was also told that my labor room would be ready by 3.30 on Saturday exactly 24 hours after my water broke but if at any time I didnt feel kicks etc. I should come in.

    I came home and was having contractions all night- nothing very strong. My doula came in the morning. Suddenly, mid-morning the contractions stopped. My doula and I went for a walk and climbed some stairs, but the contractions didn’t pick up. So we decided to go to the hospital. But I think there was probably a total time lag of maybe 2 hours from when the contractions had stopped by the time I got to the hospital. I ate lunch etc. and then got there. I went to the triage and got checked out. I think they monitoring showed everything was fine. But I think I was still given some Ivy. And I was told I could walk around if I wanted but luckily my labor room was ready by 3.00 p.m on Saturday I am guessing. After I settled into my room etc., I was induced with misoprostil not until 5.30 or 6.00 maybe. Then after wards the contractions picked up and I asked for the epidural. Meantime I was checked to see if I was dilated. Apparently after 3 to 4 hours in labor I had hardly dilated to 2 cms possibly. One of the docs came and said the baby was still high.

    When the change of shift was happening, the nurse on duty said to me that the monitoring showed decals. Another doctor came by and said we need to give you medicine to stop your contractions. At that point, I decided it was better to have a C-section for the health of the baby and me. I was first told we had about an hour for the C-section but the new nurse who came in was monitoring me and decided to take me in right away for a c-section. I was very anxious about the whole thing- I got nausea medication, shivering medication and anesthesia all at the operating table. After the baby came out at 1.59 a.m. on Saturday night, I could hardly see the baby and I passed out for a good 3 to 4 hours. Apparently, I think he had the chord across his neck or something like that , as the doctors exclaimed, “Ah the chord” when he was being taken out. I didn’t breastfeed the baby until much later that morning. I think I was even given some anxiety medication in the recovery room.

    My question to you is this: My brother who is a doc kept telling my sister who was at my place that my baby should be born within 24 hours of my water breaking and that I should insist on getting a room at the hospital before 24 hours and I should not even be at home. He told her about meconium etc.

    When I was discussing this with my sister, later my sister kind of indicated that I was being stupid by not listening to anyone and that the chord problem happened because the water had broken and he had no water to float in. She also said the baby was trying to protect himself by stopping the contractions.

    Today I was speaking to a cousin of mine and she was like, I should have gone to the hospital the moment my water broke and she also said it seems like there was negligence on my part and the hospitals part. The negligence on my part was a little hurtful though I know she didn’t mean it in a mean way or anything. She is just very frank and fairly young and says what is on her mind without sometimes thinking that this could hurt the other person.

    And, also, I wonder if when the contractions stopped if I did the right thing by waiting for a few hours before going to the hospital. But it is not like I got reprimanded at the hospital for coming late and it is not like I got induced right away. They took their own time to start doing things to me.

    The second week of his life my son was admitted into the NICU for a suspected mastitis infection that was never be proved. Nevertheless, he was treated prophylactically and it was very painful to watch a 7 day old infant be given antibiotics and blood taps etc. even though the first blood test came back negative and so did the 24 hour culture and 48 hour culture and then was released on oral antibiotics. But he is well now and he is 15 weeks old now.

    In this whole scenario, where did I fail I wonder? By not wanting to stay at the hospital the first night I got there to get checked out after my water broke. By not rushing and panicking when the contractions stopped mid-morning the next day. Or By not listening to my brother who insisted that the baby has to be born within 24 hours of my water breaking. Also, I put too much trust in my Doula and the nurse at the hospital. My doula did not panick too when the contractions stopped.We did a walk and climbed some stairs, went to Walgreens, ate lunch and then went to the hospital.

    I think I was pretty ill-informed in this whole scenario. I was probably over confident. I feel I jeopardized my baby’s life by not rushing when the contractions stopped. At that moment anything could have happened to the baby!

    I also after having read your article realize I could have avoided the whole induction and had a c-section right away if I asked the right questions about my cervix, bishop score, baby’s positioning etc. etc. I would have saved myself a whole bunch of anxiety and stress.

    Sorry, if my labor story is super long! I look forward to your honest thoughts on this labor so I can learn how to better handle a similar situation if I ever decide to have a VBAC.

    Thank you.

    1. Thank you Rachna for sharing your story. Sorry I didn’t respond sooner, I answer comments via phone, and sometimes I miss one, oops! But don’t worry about how long it was! I can hear that you need someone to listen to you share, and I honestly wish I could talk to you in person.

      First, we can always make the right choices in retrospect, but in the present we can only make decisions based on what we currently know. You should not judge yourself for what you didn’t know. Plus, with your first baby, you never know exactly what to expect.

      There are a lot of ideas out there about what a woman should or should not do if her water breaks at home. I don’t want to give you a recommendation because I don’t know you well enough and I am not a medical care provider. I am a doula who has had some midwifery training. What I do know is that the care given by your doula and nurse was not negligent. If your baby was going to die from cord prolapse right after your water broke, no one would have been able to save him/her. You would have immediately noticed a lack of baby movements. Plus, almost always, after the water breaks the baby’s head falls lower into the pelvis and actually prevents the cord from slipping beneath it’s head. Occasionally as labor progresses a cord can get pinched, but that only becomes dangerous in active labor when the pressure is more intense, so early labor at home should not be a problem. Also, the 24 hour mark has nothing to do with the cord, but is an arbitrary time chosen to minimize the chance of infection. Some studies say you can go as long as 4 days with your water broken and not increase your chance of infection as long as no vaginal exams are done, which introduce bacteria into the birth canal. I would like to point out that misoprostal has been proven to cause more cases of fetal distress than other induction drugs. It is possible that it could have caused the decease, not the cord. You should ask to see what the cause of the decels was, which is recorded in your file. And (I hope I’m remembering the questions you had) the baby would not have caused your labor to stop. Actually, it is VERY common for labor to start and stop until active labor, around 4-5cm. Unless it stalls after active labor has begun, it is not considered abnormal. If there is anything else I can help you with, I’d love to chat via email. You can reach me at kilbrethfamily@yahoo.com

      1. Thank you so much Naomi for your kind reply. Things make more sense to me now as I was a little clueless. I so appreciate the time you have taken to make things a little clearer to me. I wish I asked about other induction medicine! But that’s fine. At least I know now thanks to you that in two instances- I am not to blame myself- like not staying at the hospital the first night and not rushing when the contractions stopped as at that point I was not even dilated. And I won’t blame myself for not knowing about induction medicines. How am I supposed to know that!

        I trusted them with the induction. They never discussed the different induction medicines with me. But thats ok! I am slowly coming to peace. Thank you again for helping me learn a few facts. I so truly appreciate it.

        I will email you as I have some other questions and doubts/guilt. I wish I could meet you in person too. What you are doing is great service for women. Thank you again on my behalf and all other women who have benefited from your blog, the information and your replying to them.

        My best to you,


      2. Thank you Rachna, you should definitely not blame yourself about the induction meds. It may not have been the cause of the decels, but it is a possibility. It is best, like you said, to make peace with your birth, and be proud of yourself for all the things you did to give your baby the best birth you knew how. And thank you for your kind words!

  13. Hi I’m 35 weeks and 3 days and my waters have broken at 2 in after noon but contrtactions didn’t start till around 7 tht evening the pain has started in myt back and contraction are irregular and every 10 to 12 minutes. ITs now 7am and haven’t felt any tightenens for about an hour what happens if they have stopped? I am booked in for a planned c section on the 9th of july but have said if I go befopre the section date I wld like to go naturally any advice wld be appreciated

    1. Amanda, based on my personal experience, I would say just go in to the hospital. You don’t want to take any chances! Even my contractions stopped and I delayed going in by trying to get the contractions to come back with my doula. And I realize in retrospect that it is a very dangerous thing to do. It is better to be in a hospital environment. They will check you out there and figure out what to do.

      In all likelihood they will want to induce you.
      Remember, to ask all the questions about induction. The benefits and the risks. Of what I have read, I understand now that induction has risks and leads to more interventions. It might be worth looking into induction vs c-section. Because, bishop score of your uterus, your level of dilation, where the baby is placed-high in the uterus or lower in the uterus etc. are all factors that will determine the success of the induction. If the baby is still high in the uterus there are risks of chord compression on the baby and in all likelihood you might need a c-section anyways.
      I was induced, the contractions are extra painful when induced and in the end my contractions had to be stopped and due to decals, I ended up having a c-section anyways and the chord had gotten compressed. Now after reading more about this in this article, that is on the top of this page, I wish I knew this information before hand, I would have asked for a c-section and not put myself or my baby through the trouble.

      Ultimately, being a c-section mom I realize, it don’t matter baby c-section or natural. Most important is the health of this precious baby. So keep this baby in mind and don’t think about your ideal birth plan. Just ask all the questions,get monitored to know you and the baby are safe! You were going to have a c-section anyways on July 9th, so it may be something to consider. Also, since you are slightly early by 3 days, the doctors may decide to postpone the c-section, keep monitoring you and the baby. If they want to do that, try and see if an ultrasound is possible or Non-Stress test to see how much water is still in your sac. Ask tons of questions! Be informed of everything. This is your baby and you need to weigh in on everything.

      I have had a very rough 3 days thinking about why I was still home for almost 2 hours or so with my doula trying to get my contractions to come back and how that decision could have had very serious repurcusions. Luckily, in the end, my baby is well but I could have been safer in the hospital environment and if I had more knowledge I would have had the c-section earlier and maybe the chord compression would not have happened.

      My advice is coming from my personal experience and I don’t want people to make a similar mistake like I did.

      I wish you all the very best. Make a wise decision and have a safe and happy delivery. Please keep me posted after wards. I will be praying for you.



    2. Yes, you should call your doc. You are premature, and they can confirm for you whether or not your water has broken. If it has, you may be better off having your baby now, although there are ways to keep your baby healthy despite your water being broken for a long time. But that is really something you should discuss with your dr.

  14. Hello! I’m so happy to find your post. I feel so well-researched on so many things about my (first) homebirth, but this is not something I even considered reading up on and low and behold, this morning my waters broke with no labor in sight! I’ve had a few contractions, but still waiting for the real thing to kick in… thanks to this great article and all the encouraging comments, I feel really fine to wait it out… so much appreciation to you! – Heather

  15. Hi my name is Brooklyn. I’ve been searching online for about 20 minutes and this website seems more helpful but anywho I’m 38 weeks and 2 days and my fiancé and I just had sex about 35 minutes ago. I stood up to “clean myself” and all of a sudden I felt this warm trickle come out of me and it wouldn’t stop for about 5 seconds. It wasent a lot of liquid actually it was very little but it’s something I’ve never felt before. I’m not having contractions or pains and I’m not sure if it was just sperm or what, but this is my first child and I didn’t know if this could possibly be my water breaking? Anyone with answers and what to do please help me out. Plus I’m only 18 so I’m kind of scared.

    1. Hi Brooklyn I tried to respond but it erased my long reply I think. If you want to please call me! I am awake and happy to talk. I don’t want you to feel scared and alone. I also had this happen and I’m happy to talk for a few minutes. Seven zero six four one zero seven one three two is my number.

      1. Hi Brooklyn! If the trickle you felt lasted five seconds, it definitely sounds like it could be your water breaking. No need to panic unless you have some kind of high risk issue that your care provider has warned you about. The way you can tell if it is your water that broke is if it continues to trickle. Your body will continue to make more fluid for the baby until he/she is born, so you will be kind of leaky until then. You can wear a menstrual pad or sleep on a towel, etc. And see what happens. I’m not a medical or birth professional, I just saw your note and didn’t want to leave you feeling alone out there. You can always check in with your OB or midwife and she what they say. But just take it easy, stay hydrated, and try to relax. The majority of women whose water breaks before labor go into labor within 24 hours ( my sister is a midwife and she told me this) so it sounds like you can just wait until a reasonable hour depending on what time zone you are in and check in with your care provider. Good luck and don’t be scared! You will be ok!

    2. Thanks everyone it has continued and we are waiting to see if I start having contractions so maybe there will be a baby boy soon!!

  16. Hi

    I have been doing some reading and of course i know every pregnancy is diffrent. When i had my daughter back in 2008 my water broke early in the morning i kind of freaked out since i was not due for another month but i called my dr and she told me to come in. Once i got there they did a few tests n determined that my water indeed had broke and they immediately sent me for a c section without explaining why. Later on after my daughter was born they told me duting the c section i died but my daughter was 6 lbs 14 oz. I am currently pregnant again and i am really scared and dreading but excited about this birth am i going to have the same problem. When i asked my dr after she was born they told me i would never have gone into labor no matter what. Should i be worried about this one.

    1. Hi Shannon. I can’t say exactly why your birth experience happened the way it did without knowing you and seeing your records, but it is possible that your doctors thought your baby was too premature to be able to withstand labor. Very young babies sometimes do better after a cesarean than labor. However, it is hard to say that your doctor could have known you would never have gone into labor. Every birth is different though, so if you are concerned about planning another pregnancy, I would recommend that you start meeting other midwives and doctors to get their advice on how to make your next experience a more positive one.

      1. Thank you i am currently 16 weeks and my sister in law told me to go to the hospital she did and they did everything she wanted. So i am going to look around for better drs.

  17. I hope this won’t end up being too long. I have experience PROM twice. They are not sure if it because of my thyroid disease or what. For some reason my body does not seem to go into labor naturally. With my first baby my water broke and I had zero contractions. In fact I never even felt a single contraction. I had a c-section because my daughter was breech. My second baby I went two weeks over my “due date” and was induced. She was a successful VBAC. My third daughter we hired a lay midwife for a homebirth. My water broke on Monday morning at 12 am. By Wednesday I still had not gone into labor. She told me to sit around, sleep and relax. No baths, no sex (obviously) and not to insert anything into my vagina. Since the water sack naturally refills I was just basically on bed rest. My midwife suggested we go to out local chiropractor office and buy pituitrophin. She told me how she wanted me to take it. Within a few hours I was in early labor and within six hours I was in full blown labor. I went 79 hours with my water broke before birthing my third daughter. No infections, no problems. My midwife did have me drinking Emergen-C and not leaving the house so I would not be exposed to any new germs. Unfortunately, a doctor would have caused a higher risk of infection by frequent vaginal checks. My midwife only checked me twice. Once after I was in active labor and at 5cm and after I was in transition to stretch the last 1/4 cm so that I could start pushing. No doctor could ever figure out why I never had contractions. I very much trust my lay midwife that she was able to find a solution for a problem with a more natural alternative vs the harsh drugs I had to receive with my first two births at the hospital.

    1. Thank you for your story! My mom had PRAM with me. then I with my daughter. We got labor started about 24 hours after my water broke with a combination of Black-n-Blue decoction (black cohosh and blue cohosh) taken the night before, then a very inspired intimate stimulation session my partner initiated to help start contractions (nothing inside my vagina, just lots of nipple and clitoral stimulation to get that oxytocin MOVING!). After three orgasms, contractions started at about 9:30 am and at a fast-paced intense 3 minutes apart, and progressed to 1 minute apart within an hour. I didn’t quite believe it when I was pushing after only two hours of labor, so that took another two hours and my daughter was born at 2 pm. I never really worried about the water breaking early (mostly because of great personal accounts like the ones here), and am so happy it went so smoothly. However, my placenta took about 4 hours to birth. Anyone else have placental “complications” related to PRAM? I just waited and we did more of the stimulation work to coax it out. Finally, I went to the bathroom to empty my bladder, hoping its fullness was just blocking the placenta and my placenta just dropped right out.

  18. my daughter’s water broke at 05:30 this past monday morning. i took her to the hospital right away and she’s been there since then. it’s now 09:30 wednesday morning and she’s not in labour yet. she has had some contractions, but not frequent or strong enough. this is her first pregnancy and today is her due date. she has had only one internal exam since she got there (to reduce risk of infection). when the midwife examined her soon after she arrived she was 2cm dialated and 80% effaced (she had been taking evening primrose oil). this morning the doctor suggested induction to her and she’s really stressed out after reading the possible side effects llisted on the consent form. so, i decided to research online to see if it’s really dangerous to wait. i found this page. from what i see, it’s okay for her to wait for even a couple more days. the monitors show the baby’s heartbeat is fine and she feels the baby moving. so i told her not to feel pressured to sign the consent form just yet. I suggested she try nipple and clitoral stimulation and accupressure in the webbed area between the thumb and index finger. any comments or suggestions going forward? thanks.

    1. Aviva,

      I apologize for not responding to you sooner! I do hope your daughter has had her baby by now, that it was a wonderful birth and she and your grandbaby are doing wonderful. If however she is still in early labor, I would suggest making sure that she is well hydrated, and taking precautions against infection, such as regular large doses of vitamin C and avoiding internal exams.

      If she has still not begun labor, could her bag of waters resealed? Has she been leaking fluid since Monday morning or did it stop soon after? It is possible for the bag to reseal and labor to begin days, a week, or more later. The risk of infection is low if that is the case.

      If her water is still leaking and she has not had contractions, ask her midwife or doctor if they can tell what position the baby is in. If his/her head is asynclitic, which means, not well aligned in your daughter’s pelvis, it could be that there is just not enough pressure on her cervix to cause contractions. If this is not an issue, it may be time to consider medicinal induction, though your ideas about naturally inducing labor are great and often work.

      Let me know if there is anything else I can do! Good luck!

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