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).
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 😉