Waters breaking is one of the early signs of labour.

What happens when my water breaks?

Majority of women's water breaks during labour, but it can also happen before the labour starts.

Your baby develops and grows inside a bag of fluid called the amniotic sac.

When it's time for your baby to be born, the sac often breaks, and the fluid drains out through your vagina. This is called water breaking.

Sometimes when you're in labour and the water has not yet broken, your doctor may offer to break your water.

If your water breaks naturally, you may feel a slow trickle or a sudden gush of water that you can't control.

In order to prepare for this, you can keep a sanitary pad (but not a tampon) handy if you're going out and put a protective sheet on your bed.

Amniotic fluid is clear and pale straw in colour.

Sometimes it's difficult to differentiate between amniotic fluid and urine. When your water breaks, the water may be a bit bloodstained in the beginning.

Inform your doctor immediately if:

  • The water is smelly or coloured
  • You're losing blood

This could mean you and your baby need urgent attention.

If your water breaks before labour starts, call your doctor. Use a sanitary pad (not a tampon), so your doctor can check the colour of the water.

What if labour doesn't start after your water breaks?

Majority of women go into labour within 24 hours of water breaking. You'll be given an induction if you don't go in labour because, without amniotic fluid, your baby will be at increased risk of infection.

Until your induction or if you choose to wait for labour to start naturally, inform your doctor immediately if:

  • Your baby moves less than usual
  • The colour or smell of any fluid coming from your vagina changes


Signs that labour has begun-Your pregnancy and baby guide[Internet]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/labour-signs-what-happens/. Accessed on Mar 13, 2020.