Rupture of the fetal membranes is a medical phrase for “breaking your water”. Typically, membranes rupture naturally before the onset of labor or in the middle of labor before delivery. However, in some cases, uterine membranes rupture before the birth begins.
If a significant amount of time elapses between the rupture of the membrane and the onset of labor, this is called a prolonged rupture of membranes. It is tied to a range of risks and complications, some deadly.
Who is likely to experience a prolonged rupture of membranes?
Unfortunately, the medical community does not know all of the risk factors for prolonged membrane ruptures, but there are a number of health issues linked to this risky condition. Namely, if you smoke, have a low body mass index (BMI) or have a history of sexually transmitted diseases, your risk of prolonged rupture of membranes is higher than normal.
Similarly, if you experience vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, that can be a sign you are likely to experience prolonged rupture of membranes at some point during the pregnancy. Bacterial vaginosis and placental abruption also increase your chances of prolonged rupture of membrane.
How should doctors react to prolonged rupture of membranes?
To monitor your risk of prolonged rupture of membranes, your doctor should talk extensively with you about your medical history. If you smoke, have a low BMI or exhibit any additional risk factors, he should advise on the risks. He should also tell you exactly what to do if your water breaks early.
Once your membranes rupture, an immediate response is critical. If you are at least 37 weeks along (3 weeks from your due date), your doctor should induce labor. This ensures that the baby exits your body before the supplies of amniotic fluid drop to dangerously low levels.
However, if your membranes rupture before 37 weeks gestation, your doctor may advise bed rest to prevent the leaking of amniotic fluid. Additionally, he may give the baby steroids to speed up the growth of the baby’s lungs and other organs. Finally, he should carefully monitor both you and the baby to ensure you are as healthy as possible, and if your conditions change, he should respond accordingly.
What are the risks of prolonged rupture of membranes?
Amniotic fluid prevents your child from injuries in utero because it acts like a cushion. It also helps your baby’s lungs and digestive system to mature, and it protects your baby from infection.
If your membranes rupture too early, you lose essential amniotic fluid, and your baby may experience injuries as a result. In other cases, your baby’s growth may slow or stall, or he may develop an infection due to the loss of amniotic fluid.
Keep in mind, however, your levels of amniotic fluid drop naturally in the last few weeks of pregnancy. As a result, in some cases, you can experience a prolonged rupture of membranes and lose amniotic fluid without causing significant harm to your baby. However, for this to be possible, your doctor must carefully, thoroughly and accurately monitor you.
Additionally, if your lose a lot of amniotic fluid, your baby’s head or another body part may press against the umbilical cord. This compression can cut off nutrients or oxygen to your baby. Without oxygen, your baby may suffer from brain damage or even die.
What are your rights?
If you experienced prolonged rupture of membranes, you have a right to a doctor who understands the condition. You have a right to a reasonable standard of medical care, and if your doctor fails to provide it to you, he may be negligible for your injury.
Negligence can include failing to look at your medical history or failing to advise you of the risks of prolonged rupture of membrane or other conditions. It can also include reacting inappropriately, failing to react, or offering the wrong type of treatment.
If your healthcare provider has been negligent, you have a legal right to compensation. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, for lost time at work, for emotional trauma or for other expenses. To learn about your rights and the potential for compensation, contact a birth injury lawyer today.