During pregnancy the baby is ensconced within the protective walls of the amniotic sac. This protective sac cushioning your baby is made up of the chorion and the amnion membrane which keep the baby safe within the sac.
Optimum levels of amniotic fluid are essential for the growth and development of the baby. Moreover the fluid protects the baby against infection. As your pregnancy progresses the amount of amniotic fluid increases.
However at the end of the pregnancy that is 38 weeks onwards, the fluid levels slowly start to decrease. When the baby is about to be born, this sac bursts open.
Also known Spontaneous Rupture of Membranes, this is usually referred to as water breaking in common parlance. Unfortunately for some women the amniotic sac may develop a slight tear leading to the leakage of the amniotic fluid. This is known as Preterm premature rupture of membranes or PROM.
The amniotic fluid leak can be caused by a number of factors. A bacterial infection, an injury or trauma or a defect in the amniotic sac can trigger off this problem.
Depending on the severity of the problem there may be excessive discharge of fluid or a slight trickle. This is a serious problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. This may cause Oligohydramnios or low levels of amniotic fluid which in turn increases the chances of a premature delivery.
Moreover a tear in the amniotic sac can cause infection in fetus within 24 hours of such as leak. The growth of the fetus can also be restricted especially if the tear happens early on in the pregnancy.
Sometimes the tear is quite insignificant and will heal itself after a couple of days. Moreover in certain cases of pregnancy especially in the last trimester a woman may have excessive vaginal discharge. This could be urine, the cervical mucus or a combination of both.
It is important that you consult a doctor as soon as possible to discern the actual nature of the discharge. A simple non invasive litmus test can help in diagnosing the problem. The In case the doctor is convinced that the discharge is indeed a leakage in the amniotic fluid then the baby is delivered within 24 hours to prevent a risk of infection.
In the meantime it is advisable for the pregnant woman to wear a sanitary pad and monitor the leakage. Avoid the usage of tampons and make sure that you get plenty of bed rest.