Leaking Amniotic Fluid

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Second Trimester Leaking fluid

January 2003

I am 5-1/2 months pregnant and having a problem that I'm wondering if anyone on this e-mail newsletter has had before. I am on full bed rest because last week I started leaking (and have continued to leak) very small amounts of a thin, water-like fluid. The concern is that it might be amniotic fluid. That would be bad news at this early stage. From what my doctor tells me and what I have read this past week, there is no real solution, but the hope is that with full bed rest I might replenish the fluid faster than it's leaking. Depending on how things go, they will also consider antibiotics to lessen the chance of infection, and possibly steroids to help accelerate the baby's lung development. Apparently if this is amniotic fluid and something goes wrong there is also a very real chance of miscarriage, and at this early stage it is unlikely the baby would live. My doctor said that with every week though, the chances get better.

And there is still the hope that it might be something else. I'm being tested to make sure I don't have some sort of vaginal infection or urinary tract infection that could be causing the discharge.

Guess I'm hoping that someone out there who has either experienced this situation before, or knows someone who has, could offer any input. I am of course very worried (while trying not to get too stressed for the baby's sake!) and just trying to get whatever information I can.

Thanks in advance for any advice, Hoping for info.

Oh dear, you must be very concerned. I was on bedrest, too, (for a different reason) and it was so hard--so much time to lie there and worry. Have you discovered Sidelines.org? It's a wonderful resource for women on bedrest, or simply with complicated pregnancies. They can match you up with someone with a similar history and who delivered a healthy child. They act as a kind of e-mail buddy, and the contact and understanding can get you through some hard days. Sidelines has other resources, too. Otherwise do what you can to take care of yourself. And don't be shy in reaching out to friends and family. Tell them you need their support in every possible way. Good luck to you and your baby. Carolyn

Hang in there! You may have found more answers since your original post, but it sounds like what you have been told to do--go on full bedrest--is absolutely the best thing. You want to avoid the premature rupture of the membranes (PROM--having your water break) that would mean the loss of *all* your amniotic fluid. I had a full rupture at 15 weeks, and even bedrest could not restore good fluid levels--in fact, I had *no* fluid after that--so I ended up terminating the pregnancy due to the possiblity of infection and the liklihood of no lung development. This sad story does not have to happen to you; I have read of many women who were able to carry their babies to term, or at least to decent viability, with full bedrest. You should also drink a lot of water; this will also help restore fluid levels.

Your doctors will no doubt monitor you closely to determine that you have enough fluid for proper lung development; antibiotics and steriods may also be necessary, as your doctors have said.

A helpful website is www.kanalen.org/prom; you can read relevant medical articles as well as 200+ women's stories. Many will have experienced PROM, which you have not, and many, many have ''survivor'' stories. There should be good advice as well as support (I found it very useful a few years ago when I had my PROM).

Good luck! All is not lost. I wish you ALL the luck as you navigate this difficult and scary time. Christine

I had preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM) in three pregnancies, so I have experience with this issue. This is a problem to take very seriously. There is a high probability you are leaking amniotic fluid and that this is not due to a vaginal infection (even if your nitrazine test strips come back negative, which happened to me). I would recommend immediately doing the following:

(a) have an *abdominal* ultrasound (nothing should go in the vagina because infection could be introduced) and have the tech check on your cervical length and Amniotic Fluid Index (AFI) and give you the results. Refuse speculum exams unless absolutely necessary.

(b) go on strict bedrest - stay in bed and get up only to go to the bathroom and not to eat or anything else except doctor's appts; take measures to make sure you are not constipated; stop having sexual intercourse if you are having it. Consider raising the foot of the bed a little bit. Contact Sidelines.org, a great organization for women on bedrest.

(c) get a referral to see a perinatologist immediately, and urge him/her to give you a cerclage if there is any possibility you may have a dynamic cervix (looks closed at some times and shortens indicating it is opening, at other times)

(d) consider getting a home uterine activity monitor (HUAM) to check twice a day to see if you are having preterm labor. If ordered by your doctor your insurance will usually cover it.

(e) get tested for beta strep and go on ampicillin right away.

Many (perhaps most) ob/gyns are incredibly ignorant about dynamic cervix and PPROM in general, and they are not proactive enough about cerclages or referring you to a specialist (maybe because then they lose their fee). I hope none of this advice is necessary, but if it is try to keep your spirits up and remember that at 28 weeks you have reached a major milestone of probable success. I wish you the best of luck and send good wishes your way. Been there

There is a way to tell if it is amniotic fluid that you are leaking. When I leaked a lot (it seemed like a lot, anyway) several hours after my amniocentesis, my doctor met me at Alta Bates and used a strip of some sort (it looked like the ones they use to test urine for sugar) against and in my vagina to try to test the fluid to see if it was amniotic fluid. They sent me home with a few strips to check myself if more leaked out. (more didn't, and my baby was born fine.) If you ask, perhaps your doctor will get you some of these strips (they change color if amniotic fluid is present) to check yourself at home. Good luck. I know this must be excruciating for you, and my thoughts are with you. Another leaking mom

This is a very personal topic. I had exactly this experience in August/September of 2001 and now have a beautiful, funny, joyful baby girl. It wasn't easy however; she was born very, very early but was blessed with love and care in the Alta Bates NICU. Write to me and we'll find a way to talk soon. Hang in there and take the bed rest very seriously. Been there--grace

My sister-in-law was put in bedrest at about the same time you have, due to amniotic fluid leaking. A month ago she had a healthy baby girl, even though born premature through c-section at 7 1/2 months, to avoid her suffering in the uterus the last months of pregnancy due to scarce amniotic fluid. The baby is doing great in every respect and will soon go home with her parents.

You are in good hands. Doing bedrest is the best course of action for your baby's welfare, and it's great that your doctor is also taking into account other possibilities. Hang in there. I know bedrest is not easy (I was in bedrest for almost 7 months myself for other reasons), but it's worth it. When you have your baby in your hands you will forget about the times when being immobile was so difficult. Take advantage of this opportunity to get all the rest and the reading that you won't be able to do once your baby is here. Good luck! Anon

Dear Second trimester leaking fluid, During the second trimester, increased vaginal discharge is normal, but leaking fluid at 5 1/2 months IS very concerning. Many Ob/Gyn's would keep you in the hospital for this. It might be worthwhile to request another visit with your clinician or, if you're not seeing someone experienced with high-risk pregnancies, to consider a second opinion. There are several tests that help determine whether or not the fluid is amniotic fluid. Repeating these tests also may help. If it's not fluid, you can get up and get back to life. Best of luck. -anon Ob/Gyn parent