Leaking Amniotic Fluids: Signs and What to Do

To preface this article, any suspicion of amniotic fluid leaking should be brought to your care provider immediately. The main risks for leaking amniotic fluid are premature labor and birth, oligohydramnios, which means too little amniotic fluid, and premature rupture of the membranes. It can also lead to a higher chance of a cesarean delivery, cord compression, and slowed growth of the fetus. There are some scenarios when amniotic fluid can leak in pregnancy with no complications, but it is always best to see your care provider so that they can assess the situation.

Am I Leaking Amniotic Fluid?

Many individuals find it difficult to tell if they just had a moment of incontinence during their pregnancy or if they are leaking amniotic fluid, so how can you know? A few things may be different in amniotic fluid compared to urine. 

First, amniotic fluid might be clear, white-flecked, or tinged with mucus or blood. There is also no odor or a sweet odor accompanying amniotic fluid. And lastly, it usually saturates your underwear completely. 

Unfortunately, there are still times when, even with this knowledge, it is hard to tell if it is urine or amniotic fluid. Another way to test is Kegel and see if it stops the fluid flow. Chances are that if you Kegel and it stops, you are experiencing urinary incontinence. 

What Should I Do?

Let’s say that even after all these tips to figure out what is going on, you are still unsure. Putting on a pad and going to your care provider is best. They can run tests like a dye test or pH strips called Nitrazine strips. 

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These tests will give more solidified evidence of either amniotic fluid or urine leaking. If these tests confirm that amniotic fluid is leaking, your care provider will likely encourage you to get an ultrasound. The ultrasound tech can measure your amniotic fluid levels to try and get a better idea of how this leak has impacted your baby and what the next steps will be from there.

The cool part about our bodies is that an estimated one-third of amniotic fluid is replaced every hour. This is excellent information because it shows that amniotic fluid leaks frequently, and the baby will not run out entirely. The unfortunate part of leaking amniotic fluid is that it can lead to a higher chance of introducing bacteria to the uterus and causing an infection. Sometimes, an individual leaks amniotic fluid from their forebag of amniotic fluid, and the baby is still completely protected by the hindbag of amniotic fluid. Unfortunately, this information is difficult to obtain, which is why many care providers will not let you go longer than 24 hours with your waters leaking without delivering your baby.

What Increases My Risk?

This can sound like a scary thing, especially when you find out that it is mostly uncontrollable. Some things may increase your risk of leaking amniotic fluid, like smoking in pregnancy, having chronic vaginal bleeding, a history of an early membrane rupture, bacterial vaginosis, certain STIs, placental abruption, and if you are carrying multiples. The good news is that this is not a common experience for pregnant individuals. About 8 to 15 percent of pregnancies experience a leaking of amniotic fluid after 37 weeks, and only 3 percent experience it before 37 weeks.

All this being said, listen to your gut and go to your care provider if you have any inkling that you might have a ruptured bag of water. Leaking amniotic fluid in pregnancy is not something to mess with and should be taken seriously every single time. The sooner that attention is brought to it, the better the chances of survival are.

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