I think my waters have broken

Sometimes it is unclear whether your waters have broken or not. Water can come as “gush” or a slow trickle and so it is best to wear a sanitary pad to monitor your loss.

What else could it be?

  • Women often get an increased vaginal discharge near their due date called “leucorrhoea”. This can collect in the vagina whilst sat down or asleep and you may notice it once you have stood up.
  • Sometimes your baby’s head can be putting pressure on your bladder, and the loss you’re experiencing can be a bit of urine leaking.
  • If you notice a vaginal discharge following a bath, it is often a collection of bath water rather than your baby’s waters.

If unsure put a maternity sanitary pad on to monitor it.

For more information on local services please click here.

call your maternity unit immediately if:

  • The colour of your baby’s water is green or brown.This can be a sign your baby has had a poo inside you and needs to be monitored to ensure it is not in distress.
  • There is blood in your baby’s waters.
  • Reduced or absent baby movements
  • Your vaginal loss is smelly.
  • If you are less than 37 weeks pregnant

You need to contact your maternity unit immediately.


phone your maternity unit within 2 hours if:

  • You feel your waters have broken.
  • If your pad is wet/ damp/ heavy after 4 hours. This may need to be confirmed for you at your maternity hospital or birth centre.

You need to contact your maternity unit within 2 hours


self-care at home:

If you are unsure if your waters have broken wear a maternity sanitary pad.

  • If your pad is dry and you have no further vaginal loss after 4 hours it is very unlikely your waters have broken. Please continue to monitor.

Self care

Contact your maternity unit if you are still concerned

Maternity Unit

Your local maternity unit is staffed 24 hours a day with obstetrician s and midwives to help care for you, your baby and your pregnancy related health concerns. For some AMBER concerns it may be possible to be seen in a midwifery led unit if it is more convenient for you. For health concerns that are not related to your pregnancy you are advised to see your GP, call NHS 111 out of hours, or attend A&E if it is an emergency.

To find the contact numbers for your local maternity unit, please click here.

  • Labour line (maternity advice line) - Many maternity units provide women with a central advice line often called “labour line”. You are advised to call this number if you think you might be in labour. The phone is answered by a midwife 24hours a day. They will ask you questions, assess you and give advice. When the time is right they will arrange for you to attend your preferred place of birth, or arrange a midwife to come to you if you are planning a homebirth.
  • Community Midwife- Your community midwife provides you with all routine maternity care from your first “booking in“ appointment in early pregnancy to discharging you to the care of the health visitors when your baby is 2 weeks old. She will give you information on keeping you and your baby healthy during pregnancy and refer you to specialists if required.

Whilst you may have individual contact details for your community midwife, if you are concerned about your pregnancy we advise you call the maternity unit on the numbers provided because staff are available 24 hours a day. Please do not leave urgent voicemails or text on a community midwife’s phone.

GP (General Practitioner)

GPs assess, treat and manage a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, give vaccinations and can arrange referral to a hospital specialist should you need it. Whilst pregnant, you will have regular appointments with a midwife but it is still important to continue with any ongoing care from your GP.

NHS 111

NHS 111 can ask you questions to assess your symptoms, give you advice or can put you in touch with a GP out of usual working hours.

Accident and Emergency

A&E departments provide vital care for life threatening emergencies, such as suspected heart attack or breathing difficulties. If you are not sure it’s an emergency, call 111 for advice.

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