For most women, the bag of waters (which is the sac of amniotic fluid that surrounds your baby during pregnancy) will not break or even leak until you are in labor. For around 1 out of 10 women, however, this will actually happen before labor begins. The water will break, typically, toward the beginning of the onset of labor, or up to 24 hours before labor begins.
You will know if your water breaks if you feel a gush of water that is followed right away by uncontrollable and steady leaking. For some women, when their water breaks, they will feel a certain type of a popping feeling. Other women may feel a trickling of fluid or a general wetness of the perineum.
In some cases, it may be possible to confuse your water breaking with another type of vaginal discharge. Towards the latter part of pregnancy, vaginal discharge tends to increase. Still, if your water breaks, it will most likely be a distinct gush of sorts, rather than a general increase in moisture.
If you believe that your water has broken, you should contact your health care provider. If your water breaks and you do not go into labor, there is an increased risk for germs and for infection in your pregnancy. The more time that occurs between the time that your water breaks and the time that you deliver increases the risk to your baby of infection. If your water breaks and you don’t start labor but you are after your 37th week of pregnancy, your health care provider may wish to induce labor so as to reduce the risk of infection.
If you aren’t certain that your water has broken, your health care provider can test to see if it has. Because amniotic fluid is alkaline in nature, your health care provider can test the ph of the fluid to see if it is amniotic fluid or not. In other cases, your health care provider may wish to examine the fluid under a microscope to determine if it is amniotic fluid or not.