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    Amniotic Fluid/The Bag of Water

    Why is the Amniotic Fluid/Bag of Water Important?

    Amniotic fluid is a clear odorless liquid, which surrounds and protects the baby in the uterus and provides a protective barrier from the outside environment. Once the bag of water breaks, bacteria has a way of entering the uterus through the vagina and could cause an infection in either the baby, mother or both. Therefore, you should not douche, take baths (showers are OK), or have intercourse after the bag of water breaks.

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    How Will I Know the Bag of Water Has Broken?

    The bag of water could break spontaneously with either a gush of fluid or a continuous, uncontrollable trickle of fluid from the vagina, or your physician or midwife may break the bag of waters using an amniohook.

    It is sometimes difficult to determine, even for physicians, midwives and labor nurses, if the fluid you are leaking is amniotic fluid or urine. If you are unsure, follow these steps:

    1. Empty your bladder.

    2. As more fluid leaks, collect some on a sanitary pad.

    3. If it has a yellow color, it is probably urine. Amniotic fluid is usually colorless and odorless.

    4. Do a Kegel exercise by holding the pelvic floor muscle tight and see if the fluid stops leaking. If the fluid stops, it is probably urine.
    If there is any question that your water may have broken, contact your physician or midwife.

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    What Do I Do If My Water Breaks?

    Note the color of the fluid and the time when the water broke and call your physician or midwife. If the fluid is clear and your are having only mild contractions or none at all, your physician or midwife may have you stay home for awhile.

    If the amniotic fluid is green, brownish-yellow, or anything other than clear in color, notify your physician or midwife and come to the hospital as soon as possible.

    Although most physicians and midwives prefer babies to be delivered 24 hours (or less) after the rupture of membranes to prevent infection, some physicians and midwives allow women to labor longer. Check with your physician or midwife regarding the timeframe they follow with ruptured membranes and how they monitor for infection.

    There is no such thing as a "dry birth." Approximately one third of the liquid is replaced every hour.

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