The 24-Hour Rule: Why Timing is Important in Baby Delivery After Your Water Breaks

delivering after water breaks

If you’ve had a child in the past or are currently pregnant with your first, you’ve probably been told this: delivering a baby more than 24 hours after your water breaks can be dangerous for both mother and child.

Whether or not this is true in all circumstances depends on who you ask. Most believe, however, that it depends primarily on where and how a mother chooses to deliver her baby.

Risk of Infection

Once a mother’s water breaks, the protection of the amniotic sac is taken away. The amniotic sac is one of the only lines of defense a baby has from outside infection. If a baby isn’t delivered in a timely manner after this protection is gone, the risk of exposure to harmful bacteria or infection increases after 24 hours.

Fact or Myth?

It’s true that once the amniotic sac breaks, the risk of infection goes up. However, professionals still debate whether every pregnancy must be carried out within 24 hours of the water breaking.

Most agree that it greatly depends on how and where a mother chooses to deliver. The risk of infection increases if the mother chooses to have regular vaginal exams and cervical checks leading up to delivery. This is due to hands and other bacteria-carrying instruments being regularly inserted into the vagina. For this reason, in a hospital setting, it’s best to deliver a baby within 24 hours of water breakage.

Many believe that choosing to stay home until you feel the time is right to go to the hospital can extend the 24 hour deadline safely. As long as nothing is inserted into the vagina, the risk of infection is minimized.

If you’re pregnant, you may have questions and concerns about carrying your child and what to expect during each trimester. If you live near Gainesville or Lake City, we invite you to contact our compassionate pregnancy care physicians and schedule an appointment today.