The Waters are Breaking…

I recently bought a very discounted copy of Penny Simkin’s Comfort Measures for Childbirth video. In the explanatory booklet that comes with it, she mentions the following: “You may also notice the woman’s bag of waters break during a bearing-down effort. This is normal, though quite rare, as the bag of waters is usually broken before this time…” She doesn’t specify whether it is quite rare because the bag of waters is artificially broken before that time for many women, or whether it is just quite rare, period. Regardless, I found it an interesting comment because my personal experiences have all been of this same “rare” type—my water breaks right as I’m pushing out my babies. With my first son, I arrived at the birth center ten centimeters dilated and was told I could push whenever I felt the urge. After about 30 minutes or so, I began pushing sort of experimentally. My water exploded across the room after a few of these mini-pushes. He was then born about an hour after that. With my second son, I was on my hands and knees on the floor feeling the first intense pushes and on the second push, my water broke with a soft, warm gush and ran down my leg. He was born about 5 minutes after that. After these two experiences, my conclusion was that it was kind of a nice benefit to have my water intact until pushing—it created sort of cushion for the baby’s head and (I felt) perhaps lessened the intensity of contractions (I have yet to experience a “freaking out,” identifiable transition stage in any of my births).

Waves breaking at Montana De Oro on CA trip, July 2009.

When my daughter was born last month, it was a slightly different story. As usual, the water stayed intact, but as I began to feel the pressure of her approaching head, I felt like my water really needed to break and wasn’t. It felt distinctly in the way and it was really bothering me. I felt like I could feel it in my “birth path” and it felt like an obstruction rather than a cushion and I was completely annoyed by it. I got on hands and knees on the futon and could feel her head moving down and almost crowning, when the water finally broke and a small trickle of it came out before she did (approximately 12 seconds before!). As I’ve written before, I moved up into a kneeling position then and my entire baby was born all at once along with…a big sploosh of water. Most of it came out after the baby—she was particularly nice and clean after birth too. My sons were very bloody. My daughter had a couple of tiny spots of blood on her head, but the rest of her was pink and vernixy.

I titled my post as I did because during this last pregnancy, I often listened to a CD of chants. One of the songs on the CD has sort of a wailing refrain of, “the waters are breaaaaaaking…all over the world….the waters are breaking!” and I could NOT listen to that song while pregnant (even though it has nothing to do with pregnancy—I’m not sure exactly what it is supposed to mean, but I surmise it is about change in the world). I always ran to skip over it, feeling like to listen to it would be to send some kind of message to my body/baby that I wanted my water to break, when really, I definitely didn’t want it to break early! I wish I would have thought to turn the song on during labor though πŸ˜‰

6 thoughts on “The Waters are Breaking…

  1. That IS interesting. I’ve had one AROM, one rupture right at pushing and one that started labor. I was surprised when pushing my son out at the intensity with which my water broke. I heard a distinct POP and then felt lots of fluid on my legs. It almost scared me! In contrast, my next son (and most recent birth) involved lots of stopping and starting until one night I was lying on the couch reading and my water broke. I first thought I had peed myself, but quickly realized that was not the case. Unfortunately, I also remembered reading that many people who experience labor starting with the water breaking have described them as more intense. It was a strange feeling to have the famous “water breaks” moment (as popularized by movies and tv shows) without the immediate overwhelming contractions. False advertising, anyone? My son was born about 12 hours later, and I wouldn’t characterize it as overly painful..FYI. πŸ™‚

  2. It was interesting when my second daughter was born. With my first daughter, I had an epidural and my midwife broke my water with the giant crochet needle. I didn’t feel a thing and I barely heard the popping.
    But with my second, I had been having contractions for about 11 hours (gradually getting stronger). I was laying on my left side when a contraction hit…and…okay, this is the best way I can describe it…its like you have to pass gas, and it feels like you just pass a small balloon (or air pocket). And then the next thing I know my thighs are wet and there is a huge spot of water on my triage bed. I told my husband “I’m pretty sure my water just broke” and he lifted up the sheet I was under and said “gross” and put it back down (which made me laugh, which I desperately needed). Almost as soon as my water broke, I felt the urge to push, and she was born about 10 minutes later.

  3. Hi! I’m Susannah, a doula in Connecticut. I love your blog so much! I’ve been reading for a couple months now, and I was so happy for you when you delivered your daughter. ❀

    In my limited experience, none of my clients have had their waters break spontaneously in early labor. Of course, some have had their waters broken by their providers..

    It was so amazing to me with my first client, whose water didn't break until she was pushing, that her bag was bulging and that I could smell it. It was unlike any scent I ever experienced. Not a bad smell, just an incredibly earthy one.

    I have to say, I'm curious about the chant and I want to hear it. Could you tell us the name?

    • I’m glad you enjoy my blog! Thanks so much for commenting! The chant is called Return to the Mother and is on the CD “Chants” by Reclaiming. I’m going to make a new post with the words to it, I think, because it actually feels like a neat birth song after all (like I said, I wish I would have remembered it in labor!):

      All over the world,
      The waters are breaking.
      Everywhere, everywhere
      The waters are breaking.

      And so return,
      Return, return,
      Return to the Mother…

  4. Pingback: Return to the Mother « Talk Birth

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