When you’re pregnant, the amniotic membrane protects your fetus up until labor. However, in approximately 8-10 percent of pregnancies, fetal membranes will rupture before your labor arrives. The closer to your due date, the easier the potential complications of premature rupture of fetal membranes (PROM) are to manage.

Risk assessment

In most cases, it is unknown what causes PROM. Some causes or risk factors may be smoking, an infection of the uterus, cervix or vagina or if you were pregnant before and had PROM. However, most women whose water breaks before labor don’t have these risk factors.

It is therefore important that pregnant women know both the warning signs of PROM and its risks. Because the risk of infection may outweigh the risk of prematurity when PROM is diagnosed at term, labor induction may be chosen to avoid unnecessary complications such as fetal distress, infection, sepsis and placental abruption.

Red flags

So, how can you tell if your water is breaking prematurely? The biggest sign is fluid leaking from the vagina (either slowly or gushing out). Sometimes when fluid leaks more slowly, women mistake it for urine. If you think your membranes have ruptured, you will need to be checked as soon as possible.

If you suspect that you have PROM, it’s important to advocate for a clinical assessment that will provide a high level of accuracy. AmniSure, a medical device used in over half of all birthing hospitals nationwide, is a rapid, 99 percent accurate test to aid clinicians in the detection of PROM as part of the overall clinical assessment. The more accurate and timely your diagnosis, the more enabled your clinician will be to take the right measures to prevent potential complications and to keep you and your baby safe.