Baby is surrounded by amniotic fluid or water contained within a membrane bag (amniotic sac) inside uterus. During the natural process of labour, the water breaks when the baby’s head puts pressure on the amniotic sac, causing it to rupture. Women will notice either a gush or a trickle of water coming out of the vagina.

Normally your water breaks shortly before or during labour. If water breaks before labour at less than 37 weeks of pregnancy, this is known as preterm prelabour rupture of membranes (PPROM). PPROM is associated with 3-4 out of every 10 preterm births. This can happen in up to 3 out of every 100 (3%) pregnant women.

Premature Water Breaks

Only about 10% of women experience their water breaking spontaneously. It’s actually a doctor who breaks the water with a specialized instrument once you’re already in the hospital.

How do we know if water have broken ?

  • The signs of water breaking include feeling a slow leak or a sudden gush of water. Some women feel a slight pop, while others might feel fluid coming out in bursts as they change positions.
  • Uncontrollable leaking of small or large amounts of fluid from the vagina that doesn’t smell like urine.
  • Leaking amniotic fluid will usually be clear and odorless and will continue to leak.

Can water break while sleeping ?

Usually the bag of water breaks just before you go into labour or during the early part of labour. It happens most often when you are in bed sleeping. You may wake up and think you have wet the bed. Although rare, the bag of water can break days before labour starts.

How do baby breathe after water breaks ?

The contractions also serve to push amniotic fluid out of the baby’s lungs, preparing them to breathe. The seal between the baby and the outside breaks when the mother’s water breaks. Within a few moments after birth, the baby will take a sharp inhale and breathe for the first time on their own.

Can sneezing break water ?

A strong Braxton Hicks contraction or sneeze can cause some urine to leak. You might mistake this for a rupture of the membranes. If you are lying down when your membranes break, you are more likely to feel a gush of liquid.


  • If you experience PPROM, sometimes baby may not survive. The risk of this happening is greater if your water breaks very early, if the baby is born very prematurely or, in some cases, following infection or cord prolapse.
  • Cord prolapse, when the umbilical cord falls through cervix into the vagina: this is an emergency complication and can be life-threatening for baby, but it is uncommon.
  • Pulmonary hypoplasia, when baby’s lungs fail to develop normally because of a lack of fluid around them: this is more common if water breaks very early on in pregnancy (less than 24 weeks) when baby’s lungs are still developing.
  • Placental abruption, when placenta separates prematurely from uterus: this can cause heavy bleeding and can be dangerous for both mother and baby.