It’s a plot device that’s been in a ton of movies and TV shows: the woman’s water breaks and everyone runs around like crazy getting ready for the imminent arrival of the baby. In real life, though, not only is your baby not likely to make an immediate appearance, you may not even notice that your membranes have ruptured in the first place. In fact, only about 1 in 10 women experiences a gush of amniotic fluid.
This rupture of membranes often happens when you’re home in bed, and it can be appear either as the stereotypical gush or a more common trickle. Once your water breaks, you’ll likely go into labor within the next 24 hours. However, if by six hours after your water breaks, you haven’t developed any labor symptoms, you should still talk to your health-care provider or make your way to the hospital. If it takes longer than that for your body to naturally start labor, your doctor or health care provider will probably give you some medication to kick things off in order to reduce your risk of infection.
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