Rupture of Membranes - Be Empowered Birth Series

Preggo Water Breaking.jpeg

Rupture of Membranes

Be Empowered Birth Series

In the movies (and this picture above!), we often see the onset of labor to begin with a dramatic moment of the expecting mothers water breaking, and needing to rush to the hospital. Though that does make for good entertainment, it is very rarely what actually occurs in labor. Typically, less than 10-%15% will experience their water breaking before the onset of labor. Most commonly, your water will break at some point during labor, or you may be one of the lucky ones for the rare birth of your baby en caul!

Today we are covering rupture of membranes including spontaneous rupture of membranes (SPROM), artificial rupture of membranes (AROM), premature rupture of membranes (PROM) and share about the very rare en caul.


As mentioned, it is only about 10% of expecting mothers that will experience PROM, which means the water breaks prior to the onset of labor. Once the members have ruptures, it is greatly varied when labor may begin. Most commonly contractions begin between 12 to 24 hours. It may be beneficial to begin trying various positions and activities that will help promote the onset of labor.

However, in addition to PROM is preterm premature rupture of membranes (pPROM). pPROM is when the waters break prior to be 37 weeks, which can increase particular risks of rupture, including infection.


It is most common that during labor your waters will break spontaneously. This is caused by the contractions squeezing the amniotic sac, often creating a bulging bag of waters just below the baby's head as baby descends. It is hard to know when your water may break in labor, it can range from early labor, active labor, transition and pushing.


Anecdotally, we know that when a laboring mothers water is broken it can help to progress labor. Therefore, during labor, your provider may inquire about your desire to artificially rupture your membranes. AROM involves using a long hook to reach up into the birth canal and snag a piece of the amniotic sac to release the water. The process of it self is very quick and can be done during any phase of labor. A couple things to consider is identifying position of baby, how labor has been progressing, and risk for infection.

It is important to know that any time your water breaks, remember to look at the Color, Odor, Appearance, and Time (COAT) and ensure you communicate these to your provider and birth team.


When a baby is born with their amniotic sac still intact, is known as en caul. An en caul birth is so rare that it occurs in fewer than 1 in 80,000 births. Words can’t really express the beauty of an en caul birth, so we’ve included a few videos to let them show you their amazingness.  

Watch a cesarean baby be born en caul!

Watch a twin, breech baby be born en caul!

Want to be prepared and empowered for your birth? Sign up for childbirth classes, where we discuss all of the elements of what to do, how to prepare and learn about the benefits and risks of your water breaking!