DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional and I have written this post based on my experience of preterm premature rupture of membranes. The information I have included, is from what I was told by professionals at the time and what I read on NHS sites. If you have any concerns about your pregnancy or baby please seek immediate medical advice.
Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes, or PPROM for short, is something I had never heard of. In layman terms, it simply means that the waters have broken before labour and before being classed as ‘full term’. There is also Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM), which is where the waters break before labour, but the individual is classed as ‘full term’.
Both preterm premature rupture of membranes and PROM are treated slightly differently. With PROM, my understanding is that if an individuals water breaks and they are over 37 weeks, they are given the option to be induced within 24 hours if they do not go into labour naturally before then. With PPROM, if the individual does not go into labour naturally within 24 hours, they are offered extra observations until they reach 37 weeks where they can have the option to be induced. There is more information on the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists here.
So what did preterm Premature Rupture of membranes look like for me?
I was 35 weeks pregnant at the time and painting my kitchen cupboards. Because what else do you do in your first week of four weeks annual leave before baby arrives? I noticed a slight trickle that went down my leg. I was texting my friend at the time (I liked to give her regular in detail updates ha!) and said I’ve either just wet myself or my waters have broken.. We made light of the situation as we did not expect it to be my waters. But as I do in any major life decision.. I rang my Mam. Again, we dismissed that it was my waters, as I did not have that big dramatic gush of water you see on TV.
I had an appointment booked at the hospital for a check up and scan, as I had experienced reduced fetal movement the weekend prior. I mentioned the trickle to the sonographer, again downplaying the situation and saying I was probably being over dramatic. She consulted the midwives on shift at the pregnancy assessment unit, who said they would be able to check if it was my waters or something else. I was told to put on a pad, so that the midwife could examine the fluid, however there was hardly anything there to show.
I was met by a lovely midwife called Claire, who by the end of my pregnancy, practically became my own personal midwife as you’ll see why below. She carried out a vaginal examination and collected a swab of the fluid. Liam was with me during the examination and we’d all discussed what we were having for tea and what we’d do when we got home, again not thinking anything of what had happened. It wasn’t until Claire came back and announced that my waters were leaking that it hit us. I remember hyperventilating slightly at the thought of impending labour as I thought still had five weeks to prepare for this!
My Hospital Stay
We discussed a plan of action and it was agreed that I would stay in hospital for the night to see if labour progressed naturally. The reason being, is if I was to go into labour, there was a chance my baby would need specialist care and therefore being in the hospital seemed like the safest option. I also had to be observed for any signs of infection. As due to there being a small hole somewhere in the amniotic sac, it not only meant that amniotic fluid could get out, but anything could get in as well. This meant the baby was at risk of infection. During my stay the baby’s heart beat was observed regularly, bloods were taken to check for signs of infection and I was given antibiotics (to reduce any potential infection developing).
After a few hours of cramps and twinges, everything settled and I did not go into labour. I was examined by the consultant in the morning and sent home with appointments to come back every 2-3 days for observations. I also had to continue to take antibiotics, which unfortunately made me extremely sick and suffer with an upset stomach. This apparently is quite common with antibiotics, so if you are concerned about this, please speak with your GP/Midwife team.
A date for induction was set for 37 weeks, as it was discussed that delivering the baby at this time would be a safer option. If I was to try and wait for natural labour, the risk of infection was still there. Of course, I could have declined induction, however I was so anxious about talk of infection, I just wanted baby out to see she was okay. There was also a chance I could go into natural labour before 37 weeks, so I was hopeful this would be the case, as I had always been against the idea of induction (unless absolutely necessary).
Waiting For Induction
During the two weeks wait to 37 weeks, my emotions were all over the place. Each day I was happy that baby was safe inside and staying put, but then equally as anxious that something might go wrong and hurt her. I was told to avoid baths (due to risk of infection) which was my way to unwind, so I felt like I had lost my go to way to relax. There was a lot of relief and a lot of tears each day. Although I had been against induction before this experience, I was so ready for it as it approached. Looking back I feel sad that I wanted my pregnancy to end so abruptly, but under the circumstances I couldn’t feel anything else. The uncertainty definitely got to me. You can read how the birth went here.
On each visit to the hospital, my bloods were taken to check for infection, baby’s heartbeat was observed and my own observations taken. By the end of these visits my arms were black and blue from all the blood taken! However it was lovely to get to hear baby’s heart beating away on every visit and there were never any concerns raised. And we made it safely to the 37 weeks for induction! *cue happy dance*
I thought it would be helpful to share this experience, as like I mentioned I had never heard of PROM before this. I didn’t even know it was possible for your waters to break before labour?! Annnd I certainly did not know that a little trickle could be my waters, I was waiting for that big dramatic gush you see on TV. So if you’re reading this and unsure, please speak to your midwife team/GP immediately. It is such a quick procedure to check, but could help reduce any potential infections and any extra observations on baby are always worth it in my eyes.