38 Weeks Pregnant
If your water breaks, amniotic fluid will leak from your vagina and make it look like you have wet your pants. Sometimes, the leak could be very slight, and you may think it is urine (that after all of this, you are finally incontinent). One way to tell the difference is to smell it -- if it smells sweet, it is most likely amniotic fluid; if it smells like ammonia, it is probably urine. Regardless, do not make your own diagnosis -- call your healthcare provider. He or she can do some tests in order to tell if your water has in fact broken.
If your water breaks and you have not begun labor contractions, this is a sign that you should begin labor within 24 to 48 hours. Contact your healthcare provider and let him or her know that your water has broken and that you are on your way to the hospital, or wherever you plan on delivering your baby.
It is important to keep the vaginal area clean after your water breaks, because the baby is now unprotected from germs. Moms should not take a bath, have sexual intercourse, or use a tampon to stop the flow of the amniotic fluid.
(Click Signs of Labor to learn about other signs of true labor.)
If you have not already, now is the time to make a decision about circumcision, if your baby is a male. Circumcision is a surgical procedure that removes the foreskin of the penis. Talk to your healthcare provider about the issues surrounding circumcision, including pain-relief options for the baby. Circumcision isn't as much of a medical issue as it is a cultural or religious issue.
Although your most of your baby's systems are functioning properly and ready to go, your baby does not yet have working tear ducts. Your baby's tear ducts will not produce real tears for at least a couple of weeks after it is born. So, that first wonderful cry that you hear will not be accompanied by tears.
Myth: Sex will induce labor.
While this is a controversial topic, a correlation between sex and the onset of labor has not been medically proven. It is true that semen contains prostaglandins, which can help soften ripen the cervix for labor. Also, when a woman has an orgasm, her body releases oxytocin, which will cause the uterus to contract, helping strengthen it for labor; however, these alone will not bring on labor. Your body will go into labor when it is ready.