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Counties Manukau Health Birthing and Assessment (B & A)

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Rupture of Membranes after 37 Weeks - Breaking of Waters

Your baby is floating in a special liquid called liquor. Often called 'waters', it is really important for your baby and his/her growth, to practise breathing and even drinking!

A double layer of membranes are joined to the placenta to make a flexible, but tough, bag to hold your baby.

If a hole is made in the bag it is called rupture of membranes.

When this happens around the time your baby is due it is normal but there is a risk of infection. Because the bag protects your baby from the outside world we look for any signs of infection in you or baby. We do this by checking your temperature - if you are hot baby will be too. We also listen to baby's heart rate - this can tell us if baby is unwell and a fast heart beat tells us baby is hot. Usually a high temperature means infection.

If there are signs of infection, or if it has been between 24 and 48 hours since your waters broke, it is a good idea to have labour started. This is because the risk of infection increases the longer the waters have broken. It does not take long for infection to make both you and baby unwell.

For women whose waters have been broken more than 18 hours we will give antibiotics into a vein during labour - usually every 4 hours. This is to protect baby from infection. We start the antibiotics when you go into labour or when you have the first internal - whichever is soonest.

For many women labour will start itself but if not we use a hormone gel beside your cervix (opening to the uterus). We give two gels with 6 hours between. If after another 6 hours your labour has not started we will give you a medicine in a drip.

The normal colour for liquor is clear or 'straw' coloured although it is sometimes pink. Green liquor means baby has had a poo inside and even if he/she seems happy we think we should not wait to start labour for you.

Pamphlet - prelabour rupture of membranes at term

This page was last updated at 12:11PM on May 14, 2019.