What is PROM?

Premature rupture of membranes (PROM) is the breaking open of the bag of waters surrounding the baby, the amniotic sac, before labor begins. If PROM occurs before 37 weeks of pregnancy, it is called preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM).  With few exceptions, once the membrane ruptures a woman usually delivers her baby within one week.

In a full-term pregnancy, membranes rupture because their strength has weakened over time and the force of contractions becomes too difficult to withstand.  Before term, however, membranes can rupture for some reasons we understand and for other reasons we still haven’t grasped.  Some contributing factors to PPROM are previous preterm birth, sexually transmitted infections, vaginal bleeding, and smoking cigarettes.   That’s right, smoking cigarettes has been linked to PPROM.  So here is another good reason to quit. Women in a lower socioeconomic setting may be at higher risk for PPROM if they receive late or no prenatal care.

Preterm PROM is not only dangerous for the baby who will be born premature, but it can also pose a serious threat to the mom because it increases her risk of infection.  Chorioamnionitis is a uterine infection that can cause a high fever, uterine pain and rapid pulse and it is important to receive treatment to avoid this.

The most common signs of PROM are a gush of water from the vagina or steady leaking, a constant wetness in your underwear no matter how many times you change it.  If you experience any symptoms, check in with your doc or midwife right away.  They can analyze the fluid, check your cervix, even do an ultrasound to see if something is going on.

To learn more about preterm birth, read our fact sheet.

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