Top Signs Your Water Has Broken

Knowing whether you peed your pants or your water has broken can be difficult to figure out at the end of pregnancy. Despite what we see on TV when waters break, it is not often a massive gush of fluid. Instead, it is often simply a little trickle. The trickle is what makes telling whether your water has broken or not a difficult thing to do.

How Common is it for Water to Break?

In most births, the water does not usually break to signify a start to laboring. Only about 8 to10 percent of birthing individuals experience their water breaking before contractions start. Sometimes waters do not even break until pushing begins, and in some rare cases, a baby is born En Caul, which means they are born within their amniotic sac, meaning the sac never breaks. En Caul means “In Veil,” and these births are rare. They only happen once every 80,000 births. In some cultures, it is believed to be lucky or signifies the birth of a seer or highly spiritual individual.

Water breaking before contractions or premature rupture of membranes (PROM) can happen to anyone, but there are some risk factors to be aware of.

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Risk Factors for Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM):

  • Low socioeconomic conditions
  • Sexually transmitted infections 
  • Previous preterm birth
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Cigarette smoking during pregnancy
  • Amniotic fluid infection (chorioamnionitis) 

How Can I Be Sure My Water Broke?

If you are one of the 10 percent of individuals whose water breaks before contractions begin, here are ways to know that it is your water, not simply a slip of the pelvic floor.

  • Kegel: If you Kegel and fluid flow stops, it is likely urine. If you Kegel and it continues or picks up, it is most likely amniotic fluid.
  • Smell It: Urine has a very … unique smell. Amniotic fluid tends to smell more sweetly or has no smell at all.
  • Color: Amniotic fluid is usually clear with white specks, whereas urine has a yellow tint.
  • Change Your Undies: If you leak amniotic fluid, you will leak more than once. If you change your underwear and find more liquid in them 30 to 60 minutes later, it is more likely that you are leaking amniotic fluid.
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I’m Still Unsure, What Do I Do?

Let’s say you have tried all these different ways to tell if your waters are broken, and you are still unsure. First, you are not alone. It can be challenging to tell the difference, especially if you keep up your water intake. At this point, it would be a good idea to call your care provider and let them know what is happening. Your care provider has a few ways to check whether your waters are broken, or you had a moment of incontinence or a high yield of vaginal discharge.

Methods to Check for Broken Water:

  • Nitrazine or Litmus paper is commonly used to discover whether someone's waters have broken. This paper will change color when in contact with amniotic fluid. If you’re suspicious your waters have broken, throw on a pad and try to collect more of the amniotic fluid. Your pad can then be swabbed to get a good idea of what is happening.
  • Ferning is a scientific way to check and see if one’s water has broken. Your care provider will take a small fluid sample under a microscope. If it looks like a fern plant, it is amniotic fluid.
  • Ultrasounds are another valuable way to check if someone’s water has broken. On ultrasound, the care provider can look for the amount of amniotic fluid present after the water has broken, giving them an idea of what might be happening.


If you are suspicious of your water being broken or leaking, it is essential to let your care provider know. It is also important to note the time that your water breaks. In many birth settings, the broken water begins a countdown to when a baby must be born. So, all in all, your care provider must be informed of your broken water so they can guide you through a safe birth.

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