True or False: You must deliver within 24 hours of water breaking

April 28, 2011

In a word: FALSE – as long as baby is healthy, and NOTHING goes up the vagina. Meaning absolutely no vaginal exams once your membranes have released. This is a portion of a great article on, which is one of my favorite normal-birth sites. You can read the full post here.

Here is the abstract from a study done comparing induction groups with groups of women who were allowed to wait up to four days after membranes ruptured. This study showed that there were no adverse infections in the baby as long as vaginal exams were avoided.

The truth is most women, when left alone, will have their water break at the very end of labor, right before pushing.

Some common sense ideas for avoiding the stress of water breaking first-

~Eat right while you are pregnant. Dr Brewer claimed that a healthy diet high in protein (80-100 grams of protein a day) and fruits and veggies would help mom have a strong bag of water.

~Avoid routine vaginal exams while pregnant. (Did I mention that mine broke shortly after a pregnancy VE?) They serve almost no purpose in the non -laboring woman, and some risk is assumed when you are simply shoving bacteria up there with a gloved hand. Things normally come out not in. (Except for “you know what”, but semen has natural properties that make it non-harmful if water is intact.)

~Avoid the routine vaginal exam while in labor, especially if water has broken. At that point also avoid all things in the vagina.

~Have a care provider that you can trust. Don’t assume going into your birth that they are on the same page as you are with everything. Ask questions. Make a birth plan and TALK about it. The birth plan is almost totally useless if you just think it is a shield to magically protect you. It only serves to start a dialogue and find out if you are on the same page as your care provider. “How long are you comfortable with me laboring once water has broken?” is a good place to start.

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