Spontaneous Rupture of the Membranes (SRM)

Sometimes a woman’s waters break before labour starts. This is known as pre-labour spontaneous rupture of the membranes (SRM). You will need to see a midwife or attend hospital to confirm that your waters have broken. You can discuss this by calling the Quantock Assessment Unit.

For a complete guideline on what to do and expect when your waters break prematurely, please visit the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website.

When SRM  happens, about six out of ten women will go into labour naturally within 24 hours.

The longer the time between SRM and the birth of the baby, the higher the risk of infection to you or your baby. For this reason if you are more than 37 weeks pregnant but you have not gone into labour you should be offered the choice of either:

  • Induction of labour (precise timing will depend on clinical workload in the unit)
  • A ‘wait and see’ approach, to see if labour will start naturally within the following 24 hours.

As a “wait and see” approach carries a slight risk of infection, you will need to:

  • Monitor your baby’s movements
  • Check for changes in the colour or the odour of your amniotic fluid (waters)
  • You may be asked to check your temperature and if you feel “feverish”(hot/shivery) you must contact the Quantock Assessment Unit or Central Delivery Suite.

If your waters break before you go into labour, your chances of having a caesarean section will not be increased by choosing either induction or the “wait and see” approach. At some point after confirmation of your waters breaking and before labour is induced a
“swab” will be taken from the vagina to check for any presence of infection.

If labour doesn’t start

If you have not gone into labour after approximately 24 hours, an induction of labour is strongly recommended. Find out more about Induction of Labour.