What Do Amniotic Fluid and Tacos Have in Common?

She's 9 months pregnant and strolling the aisles of the grocery store picking up last minute things to make freezer meals before her baby comes.  Her water breaks and there's a big gush of fluid rushing down her legs onto the floor.  Contractions start immediately and she's panting and groaning through them.  Everyone rushes to get her in a car and the vehicle flies through traffic lights and stop signs to get her to the hospital just in time for her to scream her baby out.  EMERGENCY!!!

I hope you already know that it rarely ever happens that way.  And if you didn't know, I'm here to tell you: It probably will not happen like that to you.  In fact, only about 10% of women have their water break before labor starts.  The majority of waters rupture well into the labor process, and quite often, very near the end.  

What do Amniotic Fluid and Tacos Have in Common-.png

Now I bet you're wondering why the title has the word "tacos" in it, huh?  Well, if you've given birth before, you've probably experienced a situation where your care provider asks you if your water has broken yet.  If the answer was yes, they may have asked you a few questions about it.  Check those questions out now so you know what to look for next time and can be prepared to answer them!  If your water breaks, remember "TACO":

T (Time): 

What time did your water break?  Care providers will want to know how long your membranes have been ruptured.  In most cases, there are protocols for how long you can have ruptured membranes before birth.  The concern is an increased risk of infection, as your protective bag of waters is no longer surrounding your little baby inside.  If your water broke and you're not already in active labor, remember to limit the risk of infection by not inserting anything into the vagina, including tampons, fingers, having intercourse, etc.  Take showers instead of baths.  Remember, each time something (even a gloved finger from a care provider) is inserted, the risk of infection goes up.

A (Amount): 

Was it a huge gush of fluid that came out like a waterfall?  Or did you happen to feel a few small leaks here and there?  Could the leaks have been urine?  Have you had sex recently?  Could the leaks have been semen? Could the leaks or fluid be vaginal discharge?  Many women experience a lot of discharge in late pregnancy.  Those may sound like silly questions, but they all happen and that's okay!

C (Color): 

What color was the fluid?  Normal amniotic fluid is colorless and sometimes a bit cloudy.  Occasionally it is lightly tinged with small amounts of blood or mucus. Sometimes it has white flakes in it, which is just vernix that came off of baby's skin.  The reason why they ask this question is because sometimes the fluid can be slightly or heavily tinted with meconium. Sometimes, baby passes his/her first stool while still in utero.  This is common and very rarely an indication of a problem, but the care providers like to know because each hospital has a different protocol for how to respond to this situation.  In our local hospital, they invite a respiratory therapist into the labor and delivery room just before birth.  The respiratory therapist stands in the back and out of the way.  If the baby has trouble breathing on his/her own, the therapist is there to help, so the baby doesn't aspirate any of the meconium in the water.  Usually the baby is born, cries and breathes just fine, and the therapist quietly slips back out.  If you're concerned about this or would like to know the protocol in your own hospital, make sure to ask your care provider during your pregnancy.

O (Odor): 

What does it smell like? Yep, you gotta smell it to answer this question.  Either your underwear or a sanitary pad that you're wearing.  Most people describe amniotic fluid as smelling odorless, sweet, clean, or like semen.  I suppose each person thinks of it differently.  Here's why we smell it.  We want to make sure it doesn't smell like urine, which has a distinctive smell.  And we want to make sure it doesn't smell foul.  Foul smelling amniotic fluid can be a symptom of a uterine infection that you'll want to get checked out.  In most cases, though, you're just trying to determine if it's amniotic fluid or urine.

So, there you have it.  Tacos and amniotic fluid DO have something in common!  If you think your water has broken or are unsure, go through these little questions yourself so you already know your answers for when you call your care provider. 

Now, did I ruin Mexican food for you for the rest of your pregnancy?  I hope not.  If I did, just rearrange the letters and remember the word "COAT" instead!

A Valentine's Day Birth Story

This Delmarva Community Birth Story comes to us from a friend and fabulous mother.  Amanda is a mom to two toddlers in Salisbury and this is the story of her second child's birth.

This is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down….  Wait. Wrong story.  This is the story of the birth of my Rainbow baby, born on Valentine’s Day 2016.  

February 13, 2016, 11:00 PM.   I’m 41 +2.  I’m large, but surprisingly not in charge.  I was being forced to lay between my husband and my co-sleeping and still nursing 2 year old daughter because she “didn’t like Daddy right now.”  She wanted to stay up all night.  We wanted to sleep.  We put on her favorite movie at the time.  She had been bitten by the Frozen bug.  Nothing mattered but Frozen.  There were no movies, and no music that could trump the hypnotizing magic of “Let It Go.”  My unborn child was consequently also into Frozen.  I know what you’re thinking.  He was subjected to that soundtrack since he could hear.  He would do backflips and wiggle from side to side during every song.  It was a surefire way to get him active if I was concerned about his kick count.  I had started having weak contractions.  My husband, Jason, said that they seemed pretty regular to him, and suggested timing them.  I wasn’t in labor.  I timed them anyway, and they were about 6 minutes apart at this point.  I wasn’t sure how regular they were though, because I kept drifting off to sleep between them.  There was no way I was in labor.  I was SLEEPING. I called my parents, because they live in Baltimore, and it was the weekend.  I knew they would be able to come down and spend the weekend with our daughter in case the baby decided to be born in the next few days.  They decided to pack up and come right away, because my dad said I sounded like I was in a vice grip of a giant.  I thought I was speaking normally because hey, I wasn’t in labor.  

With our first, I had an extensive birth plan.  I had to be induced, and literally EVERYTHING on that plan went out the window.  I would settle for a healthy baby this time.  All I knew was I wanted to labor for as long as possible at home this time.  If I had to make it to the hospital before my parents could arrive, we had planned to call my friend from college, who lived locally.  She agreed to be on call for labor.  I thought for sure, we’d never need to call her.  I was wrong.  “Did you call Rita?” Jason asked.  “No, but I texted her.  I told her to be ready to come over just in case this turns out to be real.” He thought I was nuts, insisting that I was in labor.  I kept insisting I wasn’t.  This was NOTHING like the contractions from baby #1.  Honestly, they were even gentler than the contractions I experienced during my miscarriage. I started fumbling around the kitchen, looking for a bowl to take in the car.  I vomit easily, and I figured if I was going to be in labor in the car, I would probably puke.  Jason went outside to call Rita and warm up the car. I figured I should probably try to pee again, because by pregnancy #3, my bladder and I had trust issues.  When my husband returned, I was not where he left me.  I hear him frantically call out for me.  I’m in the bathroom, puking. As I flush the toilet, I know this is real.  This is happening.

I want to take time to snuggle our first born.  I want to have a snack.  I want to put on my coat. Being 41 weeks pregnant, I know that if I lay down, I won’t get back up. If I start eating, I’ll need a 5 course meal.  If I put on my coat, I’ll struggle to find my other sleeve and won’t be able to button it.  I settled for kissing our daughter and whispering that when Mommy came back, her brother would be here and she could hold him.  I didn’t grab a snack because I knew I had packed some in my hospital bag, a lesson learned the hard way from 50 hours of labor and NO FOOD. I did mess with my coat, even though my husband insisted I wouldn’t need it.  It was February 13th, and there was a forecast for snow.  I’m not Siberian; I would need my coat. (I have no idea how people deliver babies in cars. What’s the sitting situation?)  I spent the ride to the hospital holding myself up, like an olympic gymnast during a ring event.

When we arrived at PRMC, it was after midnight. The only entrance after hours is the ER. The entrance desk nurse asked why we were there, and I pretty much just looked at my stomach, looked at her, looked at my stomach, and was immediately annoyed.  The nurse explained they were currently out of wheelchairs, and Jason said we could walk.  I couldn’t really sit down anyway, and I knew that it would help baby move down if I walked, but I was looking forward to crushing my husband’s hand when the going got tough.  We got up into L&D, and the contractions were starting to make it difficult to talk.  Jason went to move the car to the parking garage, and our admitting nurse got me hooked up to a monitor.  I really didn’t want her to check me, and she was confident that they could admit me without needing a cervical check because the contractions were progressing nicely.  

It was about 1:00 AM when they got me into a room.  I told them I was going to want an epidural.  With my first, I spent almost 2 days of my induction med free, before I gave in knowing I needed to rest to get our baby out.  The epidural let me get some rest, but wore off before it was time to push her out, so I had the joy of feeling everything during delivery.  This time, I was terrified of getting stuck in the cycle of my mind preventing my body from progressing.  The midwife came in, and to my dismay, I was too far for the epidural.  I looked at the midwife, and said, “F***. We’re doing this then.” It was almost 1:30.  I immediately slipped into that primal space in your brain. The one that’s in between worlds, where you are aware of everything around you, but you can’t speak. It’s your spirit and your body, sharing one space as one entity.  That’s where the empowerment of birth lives.  I don’t care about the adrenaline from after delivery.  I live for the moments I spend in that space. I transition quickly because I can connect to myself so deeply in that space.  I warned the nurses of that when I arrived.  I have to give the nurses props here, because they were incredibly silent.  Part of me wondered if I should be worried, Before I knew it, it was time to push.  Jason had one leg, the nurses had the other.  I remember him commenting on how strong I was.  I was able to joke around at this point, because that’s my coping mechanism.  I don’t remember what I said, but it was along the lines of “Obviously I’m strong, I have to keep pushing out your large headed children with no meds!”  I pushed, sensed my progress, and paused to ask the midwife if scar tissue tore more easily, or less easily than regular tissue.  I’m always on the hunt for knowledge. I couldn’t see out the window, but my husband said it had started to snow.

And at 1:41 AM, February 14, 2016, he was here.  All 8lbs, 2 oz, 22 inches of squish.

We made it.  We survived.  I spent my entire pregnancy waiting for the inevitable loss that I felt was coming.  Nothing made me question every second of every day like the miscarriage we experienced before our son.  It’s true what they say about Rainbow babies though.  He is love incarnate.  He is joy.  He is the promised light after the darkness.  He is hope.  

If you're living on the Eastern Shore and would like to share your positive and empowering birth story with our community, please email me at maria@thrivebirth.org.