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Pregnancy Problems

During pregnancy, your health is number one priority. That’s why we went straight to top pregnancy health experts for all the details you want to know about the most common pregnancy problems. In our pregnancy problems guide, you can read about a slew of pregnancy conditions – everything from hemorrhoids to gestational diabetes. Find out what any pregnancy symptom could possibly mean (are you swollen just because you’re expecting, or is it a sign of some complication?) and find out whether or not it’s worth a call to your OB. If you already know you’ve got a pregnancy complication or health condition, our comprehensive articles will give you the scoop on its causes and how it can affect you and baby. Plus, get treatment tips straight from medical experts and pregnant women like you. Yup, we've got answers to all your questions about pregnancy health problems right here!

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Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM)

How to know if you have PROM -- and to handle it if you do.

What is premature rupture of membranes (PROM) during pregnancy?

Premature rupture of membranes, sometimes called PROM, is when your water breaks before you actually go into labor.

What are the signs of PROM?

Sure, it might be the sudden gush of fluid from your vagina that you expect from water breaking, but sometimes it’s less sudden -- a constant wet feeling or a trickle of fluid.

So how do you know that it could be PROM and not just normal discharge? “I always ask patients whether it’s different from what they’ve felt before,” says Michelle Collins, CNM, an assistant professor of nurse-midwifery at Vanderbilt University.

Are there any tests for PROM?

Yep! Call your midwife or OB ASAP if you think your membranes have ruptured. She can use a speculum to collect a sample of fluid and look at it under a microscope or test its pH for signs your membranes have ruptured. She might also be able to tell just by examining you.

How common is PROM?

PROM occurs in about 10 percent of all pregnancies.

How did I get PROM?

Who knows? Sometimes, it just happens. Other times, it might be related to stress, an infection, smoking during pregnancy or a history of preterm birth.

How will PROM affect my baby?

The big concern is infection, since once your water breaks, germs can migrate up into the amniotic sac.

What’s the best way to treat PROM?

Once your water breaks, your midwife or OB will likely limit the number of vaginal exams you get. “We know from research that there is a certain number of vaginal exams that is a tipping point for causing infections,” Collins says.

If you’ve tested positive for group B strep (your provider should have checked you in your third trimester), you’ll need IV antibiotics to prevent passing the virus on to baby.

You might have labor induced soon after PROM, so there’s less time for an infection to develop. Or you and baby may just be monitored closely, as you wait for labor to start on its own. “Up to 90 percent of women will go into labor on their own within 24 hours [after their water breaks],” Collins says.

-- Jennifer L.W. Fink


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