It may be the epitome of your fear as your due date nears, or even passes. You’ll be out somewhere and pop-gush-splash your water breaks, making a huge mess. Reality check here. It’s actually not like what you see in the movies (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the video I’ve included). In real life, labor does not usually start with your water breaking. In fact, only about 10% of women will have their water break before labor begins. Instead, most commonly your water will break at some point in labor when you are experiencing strong pressure and contractions. But if you are in the 10% whose water breaks prior to or very early during labor, use the acronym COAT to note a few key pieces of information that your care provider will want.
Color - Be sure to note the color of the amniotic fluid. It is usually clear or straw colored, which is ideal. However, if your baby has passed its first bowel movement (called meconium staining) it can be green or brown.
Odor - Amniotic fluid should not have a strong odor. If it does have a scent, it may smell earthy, sweet, or similar to semen. If it has a strong or unpleasant odor, it may not be amniotic fluid or it may indicate a problem.
Amount - How much water did you loose? Was it a gush or a trickle? Did you just kind of wet your panties or actually soak your pants? This is all information that your care provider will want to know.
Time - Be sure to note what time this all goes down.
While your water probably won’t break prior to labor, if it does, be sure to note COAT - the color, odor, amount and time - then immediately call your doctor. All this information is valuable to your care provider in determining how to manage your labor. And while we’re on the subject of water breaking, if you’ve already had a baby, feel free to share your water breaking stories in the comments below!