Ask any mother and they will tell you that no matter how many times you have experienced childbirth, it is always different each time. Usually it begins with mild contractions, which gets stronger until you know it is time to go the hospital for your baby to be delivered.
Yet, there are times when your baby decides to give you a surprise. You can be happily shopping for baby clothes at MidValley Megamall in your third trimester, when you suddenly feel something trickling down your legs. Horrors of all horrors, you realise that your water bag has burst.
That only means one thing- baby is on the way! So what do you do now?
Not every mother gets to experience this- and truth be told, it can be nerve-wrecking.
The most common reaction for parents would be to drop whatever they are doing, dash to the car and head to the hospital immediately, blaring the car horn, breaking speed limits and even beating some traffic lights along the way.
Is such a panicky action warranted? Not really, says Dr. Choong Kuo Hsiang, consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the Pantai Kuala Lumpur Hospital.
“Many moms find themselves at a loss when faced with such a situation. Actually there is no reason to panic as it takes several more hours before baby is ready to be delivered,” he says.
The first thing to do is to stay calm, Dr Choong advises. The next thing to do is find out whether it is really a case of ruptured membranes because, leaking urine can sometimes be mistaken for a ruptured membrane.
“Check if the fluid is clear, like coconut water, and is coming out in gushes. It should not smell of urine too,” he elaborates.
If the baby is past 37 weeks and is close to full term, the easy solution would be to head for the delivery room. But problems arise when the baby is still less than 34 weeks old and is not matured enough for delivery.
If the baby is too premature, the doctor may provide some medication to hold the baby back from being born. A medicated drip will be prescribed so as to stop uterine contractions and allow the baby bigger. New amniotic fluid is being reproduced all the time so there will always be some fluid in the womb.
However, if you have lost too much amniotic fluid and your baby is still preterm, this may be dangerous as it can result in the compression or prolapse of the umbilical cord, placental detachment, poor development of the lungs and fetal postural and compression abnormality.
When this happens, you will need to be hospitalised immediately for constant monitoring in case the baby gets into distress and needs to be delivered immediately.
GET READY FOR BABY!
For fully matured babies, the doctor will first check the colour of the amniotic fluid.
If it is clear, he will allow the contractions to begin naturally, which usually happens within a few hours. If there are no contractions within 24 hours, you will be induced with an oxytoxin drip to begin labour.
If the colour of the amniotic fluid is greenish (pea green), it means that the baby is distressed and needs to be delivered immediately with vacuums, forceps or even an emergency Caesarean Section.
In every case of a ruptured membrane, a swab of the mom’s vaginal fluids will be taken to test for infections, which can reach the baby through the birth tract. Both mom and baby will be given antibiotics if there is proven infection, which may affect the baby’s lungs and brain if left untreated.
What remains clear is that you should not panic when your water bag bursts. Here are some tips on how to handle the situation:
1) Always have the baby bag packed and ready to go at the third trimester. Have this bag kept in the car or somewhere easy to reach.
2) Make arrangements for child-care (if you have other children) in case you need to be hospitalised longer than expected.
3) Prepare a few thick towels and a plastic sheet to sit on to avoid messing up the car.
4) Have a clear idea of which hospital you want to go to from the beginning of your pregnancy. Recce the hospital to know where is the correct entrance and the floor of the labour rooms.
5) Keep emergency numbers at hand in case it happens when you least expect it to; your spouse, family members, relatives. Otherwise, call the Red Crescent Society (03-4257 8122) for an ambulance (Klang Valley only).