Do I have to go to the Hospital when my water breaks?

As a doula, I've witnessed many births and supported countless families during labour and birth. One common scenario that I've seen play out that leads to lots of intervention that a mother may not desire is going to the hospital as soon as your water breaks.

In this article, I'll explain what the cascade of intervention is, why it can happen when you go to the hospital after your water breaks, and what alternative options you might consider alongside why you might decide that going to the hospital is the right option for you anyway!
Let's paint a picture of a really common way for labour to begin. Your close to your due date or maybe even a few days or weeks over and you wake up one morning to wet underwear. Did you accidentally wet yourself?

Probably not as you walk around and realise it keeps happening.  That's because your waters' have broken! YAY

Another scenario could also be that you feel a pop or a small gush and instantly know that your labour is beginning.

So what do you do now that your waters have broken?

Should you go to the hospital?

While this may seem like the obvious course of action, it's important to understand that going to the hospital after your water breaks, if you have little to no labour signs or your labour is just beginning could actually lead to lots of unexpected pressure and decisions.

Unlike in Hollywood, water's breaking (especially for a first time mum) is not the big rush that we are made to believe it is.

When a laboring mother's water breaks as the first sign of her labour it is a great and encouraging symptom that her body and  baby are getting ready to start working hard. If you are already having contractions, then it can be a sign that labor is progressing as with each contraction the bag is squished until it tears. However, it doesn't always mean that your baby's birth is imminent or that there's an immediate need to rush to the hospital.

Many women who would like to labour at home for as long as possible and are hoping for a low intervention birth will probably decide to stay at home until they decide the time is right.

Why would I stay at home for longer?

It's probably no secret that birthing for an extended period of time in a hospital bed leads to a steps of (usually) unwanted interventions. This is the same for women who are not in active labour, but their waters have broken already.

When you go to the hospital after your water breaks, you might be sent home afterwards but you have now become subject to hospital protocols and policies that can lead to interventions, even if your labor is progressing normally.

For example, some hospitals have policies that state your water can only be "safely broken" for 12 hours. What is interesting is the next hospital claims 24 or 72 hours as a "safe" spectrum. How can all of these measures of time be safe when they are so starkly different? It's because these policies aren't up to date anymore. Keep reading if you would like to see the most recent evidence!

The common hospital protocols can vary but they usually encompass a few of these things:
  • Asking you to come in to get "checked"
  • Asking you to stay in the hospital (if they're not busy)
  • Encouraging induction procedures straight away or booking you in within a (usually) short period of time
  • Sending you home again if you are not in active labour but wanting you to come in again for another "check" later
If you have already completed BirthTools™ Online Childbirth Program then you would know all of these distractions usually hinder your labour progressing and so you want to make decisions that will foster good birth hormones, not scare them away. Getting up in the middle of the night to go to hospital, to then be sent home again is certainly not condusive to rest. Being put on a hospital clock for an induction when you have no other risk factors may not seem logical either.

So, how can you make the decision that is right for your personal pregnancy and circumstance?

What to do when your water breaks?

If you find yourself in the scenario we have outlined above but want to make sure your decisions are well thought out, then here are some good questions to ask yourself when it all begins to happen! This way you can be sure that you are doing the right thing for you and your baby or babies.
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So mama, how are you feeling? I know there are so many options and lots of opinions out there. What is going to be right for your may not sound great to your midwife or doctor or vise versa.

That's why we want you to unlock the power of informed decision-making with BirthTools™. Say goodbye to the overwhelming emotion and confusion that often comes with induction, going past your due date, and other pregnancy complications.

Our comprehensive, easy-to-understand resources will provide you with the knowledge you need, without any of the fluff. Empower yourself today with the confidence that comes from having the right information at your fingertips!"
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