Premature Amniotic Fluid Leak

During pregnancy, the growing baby is safely nestled in the uterus. Inside, there is a sac filled with amniotic fluid that gives the baby cushion and protects it from harm. It allows the baby to turn, move and kick without hindrance.

At around the second week of pregnancy, the amniotic sac forms and starts to fill with this fluid. At about the tenth week of pregnancy, there are all different kinds of nutrients that feed the growing fetus. Later in pregnancy, the baby drinks the amniotic fluid and urinates as the fetal kidneys begin to function.

Normally, amniotic fluid may begin to leak at the start of labor. Any earlier leak, like amniotic fluid leak at 15 weeks is considered premature and needs prompt medical attention.

Premature Amniotic Fluid Leak—What Is It?

If your baby is due, the amniotic sac will break open and the amniotic will either leak or rush out of the vaginal area. When this happens, it is called “Spontaneous Rupture of the Membranes or SROM”). You may call the doctor or go to the hospital and say, “my water broke.” If it is time for the baby to be born, this is perfectly normal. If the amniotic sac tears and the fluid begins to leak early prior to 37 or 38 weeks, it is called  “Premature Rupture of the Membranes or PROM". There may be a significant gushing or just a small leaking of fluid.

Amniotic fluid is often clear. There are also times that it is tinged with blood (pink), green or brown. You can tell the difference between urine and amniotic fluid because the fluid keeps leaking and you cannot control its release.

How Can I Tell If I Am Leaking Urine or Amniotic Fluid?

If you notice fluid leaking from your vaginal area, you will need to watch for a continuous flow of fluid. You may notice a dripping feeling that you cannot control. In some cases, there may be small gushes or one large gush of fluid. Unlike urine, you cannot stop the flow.

As soon as you realize the leaking, place a pad in your underwear. After some of the fluid soaks into the pad, take it off and check for color and smell. If it is amniotic fluid it will be colorless and a sweet smell. If it truly seems to be amniotic fluid, you need to go to the birthing center immediately. Leaking amniotic fluid can predispose you and your baby to infection.

What Causes Premature Amniotic Fluid Leak?

PROM prior to the baby’s due date can be caused by a few different things:

  • Previous history of Premature Amniotic Rupture
  • Infection in the vagina, uterus or cervix
  • Smoking during pregnancy
  • Tension on the amniotic sac from fluid like large baby’s or twins
  • Prior surgeries on the cervix or uterus
  • Poor prenatal lifestyle habits such as drinking alcohol, drugs or poor diet

How to Treat Premature Amniotic Fluid Leak

If you think your amniotic fluid is leaking or your “water broke” early. You need to call your doctor and get to the birthing center or local hospital emergency room right away. Time is important since infection can set in if you are not due yet. The doctor will first run a few tests including:

  • Vital signs. Checking your temperature, blood pressure, pulse and other tests for infection are very critical if your water has broken early.
  • Nitrazine paper. The pH of amniotic fluid is very different from urine. The doctor can press this paper up against your underwear or pad or catch a sample of the fluid coming from your vagina to see where the fluid is coming from.
  • Looking inside the vagina. The doctor may use a speculum to open up the vagina and see where the fluid is coming from. A sample can be taken and looked at with a microscope.
  • Ultrasound exam. The doctor or technician can look to see if there is any cause for an amniotic sac rupture and check the fluid levels.

You will probably be put on the baby monitor to check for any contractions and baby’s heart rate. If something isn’t right, treatment depends on how far along you are:

Prior to the 24th week of pregnancy:

  • Admission to the hospital for monitoring
  • Before 24 weeks is often too early for delivery and there may be a possible miscarriage
  • The doctor will monitor and discuss options

The 24th through 31st week of pregnancy:

  • Admission to the hospital
  • Treatment with antibiotics
  • Steroid injections to help develop baby’s lungs
  • Birth is delayed as long as possible until the 33rd week of pregnancy, but can be born sooner only if absolutely necessary

The 32nd and 33rd week of pregnancy:

  • Baby’s lungs will be checked for maturity
  • Antibiotics
  • Steroid injections to further develop baby’s lungs
  • Labor can be induced at this time if lungs are mature and absolutely necessary

The 34th week of pregnancy until due date:

  • Admission to hospital for testing and monitor baby
  • Antibiotics if membranes ruptured more than 24 hours prior
  • Labor can be induced at any time if necessary after the 34th week. Babies usually do very well after the 34th week.

Experience of Other Moms

Amniotic Fluid Leak at 15 Weeks of Pregnancy --Stacy

“I was pregnant with twins last year and at 15 weeks my son, Evan’s water sac ruptured. I was hospitalized on antibiotics and given steroid injections. I was on strict bed rest until 30 weeks, when they had to deliver the babies due to an infection. My son Evan had to stay in the NICU until he was 3 months old. His twin sister came home at 2 months old and she is very healthy. Evan is a great baby and brings a smile, but he still has his challenges. He has hypoplastic lung syndrome, GI Reflux disease and has problems hearing. My twins both came home and I count my blessings that they turned out okay.”

Preterm labor at 24 weeks with amniotic sac rupture at 31 weeks--Kandy

“This is my first pregnancy and I am 33 weeks along. Around my 24th week of pregnancy I had premature amniotic fluid leak. They ordered bed rest for two weeks while hospitalized. They gave me steroid shots and at 26 weeks I was allowed to go home. They gave me progesterone suppositories to keep my cervix from dilating.

At 31 weeks they did an ultrasound and it showed that the amniotic sac had separated. Soon after the scan my water broke. They admitted me to labor and delivery and gave me erythromycin and more steroids to prevent infection and help develop the baby’s lungs. I was also given medication to stop me from going into labor. My baby held off without infection until 34 weeks and was born very healthy.”



A mom shares her experienc of Leaking amniotic fluid at 26-27 weeks:

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