Susan L. Madden, MS
Rebecca J. Stahl, MA
Premature rupture of membranes (PROM) at term is the breaking of the amniotic sac more than one hour before labor begins. The sac contains amniotic fluid and the developing baby. With PROM, the amniotic fluid inside the sac leaks or gushes out of the vagina. This is also known as your water breaking.
Call your doctor right away if you suspect that your water has broken.
PROM is caused by weakening and/or thinning of the opening of the membrane.
Factors that may increase your chance of PROM:
The main symptom of PROM is fluid leaking from the vagina. You may experience a sudden gush of fluid or a slow, constant trickle. It can be difficult to distinguish between a slow amniotic trickle or urine. Your doctor can do simple tests to determine this.
Symptoms may include a fever above 100.4°F (38°C). If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor right away.
PROM may include:
If a large amount of fluid is leaking from the vagina, diagnosing PROM can be straightforward. To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor may do the following tests:
The doctor will also check you for fever and other signs of infection. Your baby will be monitored for any signs of distress.
Labor usually begins within hours after PROM. If labor does not begin soon after your water breaks, the risk of infection increases. In many cases, labor will be induced by giving you medications. Antibiotics may also be given.
You and your baby will be watched closely to look for signs of any problems developing. For example, your baby’s heart rate will be monitored.
Researchers are investigating ways to prevent PROM. Taking vitamin C may lower your chance of developing PROM. You can also take steps for a healthier pregnancy, like
American Pregnancy Association
National Institute of Child Health and Development
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Placental abruption. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 14, 2013. Accessed August 1, 2013.
Practice Bulletins No. 139: Premature rupture of membranes. Obstet Gynecol. 2013;122(4):918-930.
Premature rupture of membranes: Causes, risks, and treatment. Pregnancy Info website. Available at:
http://www.pregnancy-info.net/prom.html. Accessed August 1, 2013.
Premature rupture of membranes at term (term PROM). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 5, 2013. Accessed August 1, 2013.
12/29/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Wojcieszek AM, Stock OM, Flenady V. Antibiotics for prelabour rupture of membranes at or near term. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;10:CD001807.
Last reviewed May 2015 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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