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What NOT to do when your water breaks

First-time parents are a special breed–a unique cocktail of excitement, naiveté, and terror all rolled into one.

One thing first-time parents wonder obsess about is when labor will start. What should they do when her water breaks? What should they bring to the hospital?

Well, as someone who’s had three babies (with another baby boy on the way), I still can’t shed too much light on that question–but I can do you one better.

I can tell you exactly what NOT to do when your water breaks.

When your water breaks, don’t panic like you had no earthly idea this might happen

At nearly 40 weeks pregnant, I was sitting there minding my own business when out of nowhere, my water broke.

I know statistically, this is relatively rare. All those sitcom shticks of “Honey, my water broke! It’s time!”  are not the reality for most women in labor, but it was for me.

So what did I do?

Screamed and ran to the bathroom, panting in terror like I’d just escaped an axe-murderer.

Then I yelled for my husband, which brings me to my next don’t.

When your water breaks, don’t give yourself a ridiculous injury

Apparently, my panicked screaming from upstairs was alarming enough that my husband tossed aside the pan of ground beef he was cooking, leaving the electric burner on for good measure (oops).

He then went sprinting up the stairs, stumbling in rapid succession over the dog and then the baby gate we used for the dog. He pulled a muscle and came sprint-hobbling down the hall to find out what was wrong.

I met him in our bathroom with a mixture of crying/laughing/panic/excitement. At that point, I closely resembled the infamous scene from Saved by the Bell with caffeine-pill-addicted Jessie Spano (“I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so… I’m so… *sob* scared!”)

Don’t run out the door like the house is on fire

We bee-bopped out of that house like greased lightning. As my contractions got closer together, we wondered how much longer it would be before our baby was born, certain that it couldn’t be long.

Spoiler alert: It was long.

I know there are a few women whose labors move remarkably fast, even that first time (you lucky ducks!), but most of us don’t fall into that camp.

Instead of mad-dashing to the hospital, limping all the way, we should have finished cooking dinner. We should have put it away too, rather than leaving a pan of half-cooked tacos on the countertop for when we returned three days later (yum!).

We also should have binge-watched an entire season of our favorite show (The Office, obviously) and then leisurely packed our bags like sane human beings.

–Which of course, brings us to the next installment in our What not to when your water breaks tutorial…

Definitely DON’T pack like a crazy bag-lady who’s never returning home

The baby books recommend you pack your bags by 36 weeks and now I know why.

At first, I didn’t pack them out of superstition. Then I was busy. Then I was lazy. Then my nausea returned (a fun little end-of-pregnancy bonus).

In short: I just didn’t get around to it.

When my water broke, it was clearly time to get packing, and let me tell you: I packed like I was going on a year-long voyage. I grabbed warm clothes, cool clothes, nice clothes, lounge clothes — you name it, I brought it.

I also packed something in nearly every size. “What if my stomach goes down right away? Then I’ll want something smaller.” (Bahahahaha. Haha. Ha…).

I also packed stuff for entertainment. Books, movies, magazines — we were loaded to the nines with things we wouldn’t look at even once in the hospital.

Of course, only one of us was long-gone on this crazy train. My husband gently suggested, “Aren’t you packing a lot? Do you really need all this?

Folks, there is no reasoning with a woman who is 500-weeks-pregnant and in labor. She wants what she wants and she will have it.


As we walked through the sliding emergency room doors, the security guard took one look at us and said, “Labor and delivery?”

Us: Yes?

Him: First time?

Us: Yes. (What, did we have it stamped on our foreheads or something?)

It turns out we didn’t have a forehead stamp, but we had something just as obvious: the way my husband was loaded up like a pack-mule.

He was carrying multiple bags, pillows, possibly even a funny hat, and he was carrying it all with a massive limp. (Bonus: This wasn’t even all of our stuff. There were still two more bags in the car for after baby arrived.)

I wasn’t moving too quickly either. I was a tiny person carrying a large baby, so I was waddling like Shamu stranded out of his tank. Plus, I had a hand towel shoved in my pants to deal with the “running water” situation.

(A little something I learned as a first time mom in labor: when your water breaks, it doesn’t just break and stop. It keeps replenishing itself, and therefore, keeps leaking. Mine appeared to replenish rather quickly, which made our drive and super awkward voyage through the lobby and up to L&D delightful.)

The most important thing to remember when your water breaks: all’s well that ends well

Baby was eventually safely delivered (even if it was a million hours later). We managed to piece together going-home outfits for everyone out of the 75,000 articles of clothing I packed.

Even hubby’s calf muscle eventually recovered, although he caught no shortage of flack for limping awkwardly out of the hospital after I had pushed out an actual human.

We all lived to tell the tale, but I promise you this: when it came time to do this rodeo a second time, we did a lot of things differently.

I hope this little What Not To Do When Your Water Breaks tutorial saves you from future hassles when Go-Time hits (or at least gives you a solid laugh at our expense).

Have a ridiculous story from when you went into labor? I’d love to hear it! (Drop it in the comments.)

*This post originally appeared on Filter-Free Parents.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

Clever Pregnancy Comebacks: Hilarious Responses to “Are You Having Twins?” (When You’re Definitely Not!)

25 Funny Pregnancy Quotes Every Mom Will Appreciate

Gaining Too Much Weight During Pregnancy: Your Hilarious, Unconventional Guide to Gaining 50+ Pounds

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  1. This gave me a good laugh! Thanks!! My water didn’t break with my first but I’m pregnant with my second so maybe this time will be different.
    I don’t know how long I was in labor. I know someone who was in labor for only two hours for her first. Two hours! The envy of every mom 😆.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! Two hours is awesome, but also probably a tad terrifying. (I have two friends who nearly delivered in hospital hallways). I wish you the best of luck with the new baby! And I wish you a safe, speedy-but-not-too-speedy delivery!


  2. Ok, I just laughed out loud through all of this. Too funny, and I’m sure you’re not alone in doing this! My water never broke on its own, but I can imagine it would’ve freaked me out!

    1. Hi Lisa,

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Yes, when my water broke, both my husband and I were complete hot messes. When I look back, it cracks me up how ridiculous we were. To think — they let those two amateurs leave the hospital with an actual, real, live baby! 😉

      I’ve had three kids so far, but my first was the only one where my water broke before we were in the hospital surrounded by people who knew what they were doing!


    1. Hi Heather,

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I had a pretty “normal” pregnancy with my first, so I figured labor would start gradually (as it allegedly does for most), but NOPE! I guess the good thing is — when your water breaks, you know you are definitely in labor. There’s no “is this for real?” debate necessary 🙂 With my third, I went almost a week overdue and we had *several* false alarms those last two weeks haha.


  3. My water didn’t break for either pregnancy and I had TWINS! Sheesh. I love your story and laughed through most of it. I was packed for weeks both times and was induced both times. I totally overpacked!

    1. Hi Karen,

      I’m so glad it could give you a laugh 🙂 Every time we tell the story of what happened when my water broke, my husband and I have to laugh at how ridiculous we were.

      It’s funny how different each pregnancy/labor is (from woman to woman and even for the same woman). I’ve had three so far and they were all different (with my first one, my water broke, my second, it was just a gradual ramping up, and my third was weeks of false alarms followed by going almost a week overdue and being induced).

      As for the overpacking, I feel like I made great strides after that first time mom packing fiasco!


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