Your baby lies in an amniotic sac of fluid sometimes referred to as “waters”. If your waters break before labour begins it is called premature rupture of membranes (PROM). If PROM occurs before your baby has reached full term the medical term is preterm premature rupture of membranes or PPROM. This is when the membrane sac and the amniotic fluid break before the onset of labour and before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

PPROM occurs in around 2% of pregnancies but is associated with 40% of preterm deliveries.

Risk factors for PPROM include;

  • Smoking during pregnancy
  • Previous preterm birth
  • Vaginal bleeding at any time during your pregnancy


  • Slow leak or gushing of fluid from the vagina
  • Wetness in underwear

Sometimes women mistake the leaking of amniotic fluid for urine, especially when it leaks slowly. If you notice any symptoms or think your membranes may have ruptured call your primary health care provider immediately.

Risk factors of ruptured membranes include;

  • Premature birth
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Early labour and preterm delivery
  • Compression of the umbilical called (umbilical cord prolapse)
  • Placental abruption
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