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Natural Childbirth

What is it like when my water breaks?

What Is It Like When My Water Breaks?

What is it like when my water breaks?

What is it like when my water breaks?

If you are pregnant, you have probably started to wonder what it is like when your water breaks. And if you have ever watched television or movie depictions of birth, you may have some very firm ideas about what happens when your water breaks. Maybe it looks something like this:

Your water breaks suddenly and powerfully! Oh no! Just as you enter the freezer aisle at your local Piggly Wiggly, you are startled by a loud “Pop!” and suddenly your cart is slipping quickly past the frozen fish fillets. Yikes! Clean up on aisle three! Immediately after this explosion of amniotic fluid, labor starts with a vengeance and you can barely make it to the car before a newborn the size of a four month old comes sliding out of your nether regions. Whoa! Labor is scary and FAST!

Well, well, well…

The way water breaking is usually portrayed in the media is actually not how it happens for most women in a real life birth. The bag of water that protects your baby as it lives inside you is an incredible thing. It provides cushioning, prevents bacteria from getting to the baby, aids in lung development and it even keeps baby at a constant and comfortable temperature. While we think of the breaking of water as a minor emergency, it is actually a very normal part of labor that has many variations. Now let’s talk a little bit about how things (usually) go when the amazing amniotic sac breaks.

My water will break EVERYWHERE!

We tend think of water breaking with a bang. Suddenly dad is soaked or mom is standing in a telltale puddle. Sometimes the bag DOES burst all over the place with great drama and power. Birth Boot Camp instructor Emily in Minot, North Dakota, said that, “ I was kinda pushing and yelled, "The baby's head!!!" and my midwife came running back into the room. Then, POP! Water explosion. It hit the wall!”

For Jill, a birth teacher in Fargo, North Dakota, people could hear her water break in another room! “I was sitting on the toilet when my water broke. I announced to my birth team in the other room that "My water broke!” to which they replied, "Yeah, we heard!"”

A startling gush of fluid is not, however, the only way your water can break. Caryn, one of our instructors in the Dallas/Fort Worth area describes how the experience was different with each of her VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) birth experiences. “With my first VBA3C, water really did break in early labor and I had the baby within four hours. With my second VBA3C, I thought water broke but when I got to the hospital, it tested negative (I think it was a high leak) and I was sent home. I had the baby 24 hrs later and water really broke in transition.”

Some women, like Caryn, feel a gush of water but then test negative for amniotic fluid. (If you believe your water has broken, your care provider will often test to see if the fluid is urine or amniotic fluid.) Some will experience a “slow leak” of amniotic fluid. Rather than a burst, the fluid will trickle intermittently, possibly only when you have contractions. While this can necessitate the need for maxi pads to catch the fluid, the situation isn’t impossible. In fact, some believe that the bag of water can re-seal, just like what seems to have happened with Caryn.

What do you do if your bag of water leaks?

Make sure you know what your care provider recommends in this situation. Some may recommend you come in for a check, and others may just want to be kept in the loop and are happy to have you labor at home for a while. Some may want you to periodically check your temperature. They will often ask you to notice the color of the water. Amniotic fluid should be clear and odorless. They may have you empty your bladder to make sure you aren’t leaking urine rather than fluid. If your water has broken, there may be extra concern if you have tested positive for Group B strep. Your provider’s main concern when water breaks and labor doesn’t start is the risk for infection. so ask them what they recommend. They will discourage you from putting anything in your vagina and may use vaginal exams with caution so to prevent the introduction of bacteria.

 When your water breaks and labor doesn’t start, this is called premature rupture of membranes (PROM) and can be a cause of concern. This is particularly concerning for some providers if you are before 37 weeks in your pregnancy. However, labor almost always starts on its own within about 24 hours. And while we think of the amniotic fluid as a one-shot deal, it actually replaces itself constantly so there is no such thing as a “dry birth.”

Breaking water starts labor, right?

While we think that water breaks and then labor starts, this is another misunderstanding perpetuated by media representations of birth. In truth, often the early part of labor is “invisible” and involves the cervix dilating and other things happening that go on inside the birthing woman’s body. While this is beautiful and natural, it doesn’t make for very good television, so the media fast forwards to copious amounts of amniotic fluid spillage and screaming women in wheelchairs.

In reality, water can break at any time during labor. In fact, often water breaking is one of the last things that happens. Your water can break during pushing, and sometimes doesn’t break at all! For Julia, a birth teacher in Grapevine, TX, that is how it worked for her. “With my first birth, water broke in the birth pool, but at top. A bulging bag of water came out ahead on baby's head, intact, filled with water.”

This phenomenon called “being born in the caul” is fairly rare, but does occur and makes for some incredible pictures. Being born “in the caul” is considered by many to be good luck!

What if my water never breaks!?

This is a sincere concern for women. But, as mentioned above, breaking water doesn’t actually have to happen in order for the birth to take place. Artificial rupture of membranes (AROM), is however a commonly done procedure in the induction process. When women are induced to start labor, the bag of water is often broken with an amniohook at around four centimeters dilation. You may want to ask your care provider what their policy is when it comes to breaking water to encourage or speed labor. This matters to you because women are often on a time clock once water has broken and are expected to birth within about 24 hours.

What is it like when water breaks?

So, what IS it like when water breaks? The answer to that question really varies from one woman to the next. Some (but not most) will begin labor with the stereotypical “burst” in the grocery store. Others may notice an intermittent trickle or leak of their bag of water. Some women will complete most of their labor before water breaks during transition or pushing. Melissa, a Birth Boot Camp instructor in St. Cloud, Minnesota said that, “With my unmedicated birth, I distinctly remember having a contraction and feeling like something was in my way. I gave a little push at the peak of it, and broke my water myself. I wasn't numb, so I literally could feel my bag of waters getting in baby's way!” A rare few may even deliver their baby “in the caul”. Whatever happens to you, it is probably normal to some degree. After all, there are many variations in the timetable of labor and birth and each woman experiences them a little differently. Your birth class will prepare you for whatever happens.

Check out our founder, Donna Ryan, talking about what it is like when your water breaks.


cesarean rates lowered with childbirth education

Childbirth Education Helps Lower Cesarean Section Rates

cesarean rates lowered with childbirth education

Childbirth Education Helps Lower Cesarean Section Rates

At Birth Boot Camp we love being a part your life as you prepare to welcome a new baby into the world. There are many things we strive to teach in our comprehensive childbirth education classes. From nutrition and exercise for mom, to common tests and procedures, to learning to relax as a couple, we teach a truly comprehensive childbirth class.

One of the results of this all encompassing childbirth class is that our students have a lower cesarean section rate than the national average. And we feel that when they do need medication or surgery to assist in the healthiest birth possible for them, they are better prepared for this situation and hopefully more at peace with their birth, no matter how it goes.

We are proud to present the statistics for our students (both online and live classes) for 2014.

What do students get from their Birth Boot Camp childbirth class that helps make it so effective?

- 10 weeks of instruction-

Each series is 10 classes. Yes, we know that you can take a shorter birth class, but we don't feel they are nearly as effective. There is so much to learn about when it comes to birth, and we want our students to be prepared for all of it. This reduces fear and raises awareness. It also gives couples time to get to know each other and communicate together and with their birth team.

Here we talk about all the incredible topics covered in this 10 week class- for both our live classes and the online version.

- Field Manual-

Yes, not only do our students show up for 10 weeks, but they do their homework! This is part of the reason why the class is so effective. We truly believe that education can help you have an amazing birth. And the homework is worth it!

Check out the beautiful Field Manual that every student receives.


We realize that no matter how the birth goes, having a baby is about so much more than just the birth. Breastfeeding preparation is a huge part of what we do. Every student receives a breastfeeding download, "Breastfeeding: The Ultimate MRE" as part of their series. This is theirs to keep forever and is so helpful in achieving a successful breastfeeding relationship.

Join a class near your or take our online class to maximize your chances of an amazing birth!

Postpartum Afterpains

Postpartum Afterpains

Postpartum Afterpains

Postpartum afterpains

Many first time mothers have never even heard of them, and some won’t even notice the cramping sensation known as afterpains. Occurring after the delivery of the child, afterpains consist of postpartum cramping that is felt (or not noticed) after delivery of a baby and continues for a few days.

Especially noticeable during breastfeeding, postpartum afterpains are a sign that the uterus is cramping and shrinking back to its pre-pregnancy state. Postpartum afterpains serve an important purpose: helping the uerus become smaller so as to minimize blood loss. Because breastfeeding stimulates oxytocin production and oxytocin helps contract the uterus, women may have a constant, almost labor-like, feeling of cramping while they nurse their baby.

Just as with most topics relating to birth and postpartum, there is much variation in the way that women experience afterpains. Elisha, a mom of one and childbirth educator in Lewisville, TX says that, “Every time I nursed I felt my uterus contracting, but it would go away shortly after each nursing session began. I just knew the pain had a purpose, and couldn't let it interfere with my breastfeeding experience.” Some women, particularly first time mothers, may not even notice afterpains at all.

Women often report that the more babies they give birth to, the stronger and longer the postpartum afterpain sensation is.“With my second I mostly just had them while nursing. And with my third I had them all the time for at least three days postpartum. And they were so horrible and intense, I couldn't even hold the baby while having them,”  reports Holly, a Birth Boot Camp instructor in Denton, TX. Others report that after the sixth birth, afterpains diminish once again and are not as noticeable.

Postpartum Afterpain Relief

 There are many things that can be done to help relieve the pain and intensity of afterpains. Here are a few ideas. Take those that work for you and disregard those that don’t. We are all different!

 -Employ Relaxation Techniques-

Your childbirth class no doubt helped you tune in to your own ability to relax through times of stress, strain, and even pain. While the focus in a birth class is on using these tools for a natural birth, the ability to relax can be helpful in many different situations (especially as a parent!)

 Valerie, a Birth Boot Camp childbirth educator in Princeton, NJ, says, “All of my practice and education in dealing with labor contractions helped me, even after birth! Plus, just like with labor contractions, I knew that they had a purpose. Labor contractions were not frightening because I knew that they were intense for a reason (dilating my cervix, moving my baby down and out). And afterpains weren't frightening because I knew they were working to preventing excess bleeding (also a very good thing!). In both circumstances, knowing that it was normal and even useful eased my worries and concerns.” Just like with birth, knowledge and relaxation are helpful in dealing with afterpains.

Focusing on deep breathing, just as you did to relax through those contractions in labor, can help you relax through the contractions after labor. The deep and cleansing breath that reaches down to your abdomen and fully employs your diaphragm, can help you let tension leave your body during postpartum contractions just as it worked in labor.

 Rachael Hope, a Birth Boot Camp instructor in Bellingham, Washington, details what worked for her:

“I used a heating pad a lot in the first two weeks after my second was born, putting it on my front instead of my back. It seemed to help. Binding my stomach also seemed to help with the pain. The most helpful thing for me was just relaxing, breathing, and remembering that the afterpains were just my body readjusting after birth.”

 Other techniques that you liked for labor such as counting or distraction may also be useful. Find what works for you and use it as needed.

 -Alternative Pain Management-

There are a variety of products and herbal options available that experienced birthing and nursing mothers find helpful in dealing with afterpains. Earth Mama Angel Baby Comfort tea, Skullcap and cramp bark tincture, Arnica tablets, Afterease, liquid calcium-magnesium, and Motherwart are all things that can spell relief. As with any medical treatment, it is important to consult with your care provider when using natural remedies too. Your midwife will be able to guide you as you choose what works best for you.


Other alternative methods that may be helpful with afterpains include hot stone massage (done by some midwives), or abdominal wrapping. Abdominal wrapping is a common part of postpartum care and mother support in some cultures and many are finding it useful still in relieving postpartum afterpains.

 -Pharmacological Pain Relief-

Sometimes the pain associated with postpartum recovery, including afterpains, is such that a mother will have a difficult time recovering or sleeping, or even having a desire to breastfeed (especially if breastfeeding becomes associated with triggering afterpains.)

Kristi, a Birth Boot Camp instructor and doula in Houston, TX, who has had two natural births said that, “When I was nursing again, I broke down in tears and begged my husband to go get me some Motrin. He and my father-in-law, jumped in the car to go get me some. It really helped. Since then I've said, "I'm all about the natural birth, but I'm not all about the natural postpartum. Give me drugs!"”

Talk to your care provider about what they recommend in this instance. Certain painkillers are not ideal for nursing women. There is a wide range of choices safe for nursing mothers.. Your provider will help you choose what works best and is safe for you and baby.

 -Common Sense Comfort For Afterpains-

There are also simple solutions for dealing with afterpains. A warm cup of tea with milk as you settle and relax can be helpful. A hot water bottle or warmed rice pack over your abdomen can bring welcome relief during breastfeeding. The simple act of staying hydrated and eating nourishing, healthy food can be a comfort and aid during recovery.

Warm bone broth with vegetables, fresh fruits and nuts, green salads, and other nourishing postpartum foods that feed your recovering, hardworking body, cannot be underestimated at this transitional time of life. Allow and invite those around you to help nourish you as you recover. Or, if you know that support postpartum will be limited, seek to prepare beforehand so that you will have healthy things on hand after the time of birth. Don’t underestimate the joy of a freezer full of food.

Sometimes afterpains are more than just a physical occurrence, but can even serve as a reminder of the birth. For women who experienced very quick labors, the pain of afterpains can also serve as a sort of processing. As Nancy Rebarchik, a Birth Boot Camp instructor and doula in Hurst, TX, says, “After my second baby, a precipitous birth, the difficulty for me was more emotional. The afterpains made me feel like I was back in labor, which I was still emotionally processing. While they were intense, they allowed me to work through the emotional stuff most people process during labor. Sometimes, things that are hurtful can be very helpful. “

While not always pleasant, the experience of postpartum afterpains can serve multiple purposes. From helping mom slow down, to shrinking the uterus, and even helping ease the emotional transition into motherhood, this often secret but memorable experience is not one to be ignored.


In many ways, the immediate postpartum period and the first few weeks after the birth of a baby are things that we keep secret and rarely talk about. While understandable considering the intimate nature of these powerful life events, silence regarding the many changes in the body often leaves women feeling vulnerable, unprepared and confused.

 Education and knowledge have the opposite effect. As Rachael says, ““I was so glad that both my midwife and a good friend warned me that the afterpains are more intense with the second baby than the first!"

Postpartum afterpains are one of these subjects that few realize even exists until they experience it for themselves. Sharing this knowledge is important preparation for a more pleasant entrance into the many joys (and sometimes unpleasant surprises) of motherhood.

doula training discount

Win Doula Training Discount!

doula training discount
Enter to win a huge discount off doula training!


Win Doula Training Discount!

To celebrate Wold Doula Week, Birth Boot Camp DOULA has organized a contest. You can win a doula training discount for our very own Birth Boot Camp DOULA training!

We believe that doulas can make birth better, improve the experience for the birthing mother, her partner, her baby, and her entire family. In fact, we believe that more fabulous doulas who have the business skills to build sustainable, successful doula practices, actually have the ability to change the world!

For this reason we are offering a huge discount to FIVE lucky winners in our doula training discount contest for World Doula Week.

Entering is simple!

Enter via this link.

There are four easy ways you can enter the contest right there! Each entry gains you more points and increases your likelihood of winning. At the bottom, click the button to "unlock bonus entries" to enter yourself even MORE times! There are so many opportunities to share and increase your chance of winning. You can share your entry all over social media and send your friends to do the same. We can't wait to see you on YouTube, google+, or even on your blog! Remember- you have one week to enter and you can enter DAILY! Maximize your chances of winning!

Have fun, tell your friends, and get yourself a huge discount on our fabulous Birth Boot Camp DOULA training! We can't wait to meet you and make birth better for couples everywhere!

Learn more about becoming a Birth Boot Camp DOULA here.

become a doula
What is involved in being a Birth Boot Camp instructor.

What It Means To Be A Birth Boot Camp Instructor

What is involved in being a Birth Boot Camp instructor.

We can't even express how much we appreciate our 120+ instructors. From those joining us now, to that first group who took a chance with a new company, they are amazing, dedicated and intelligent women who strive every day to make birth better for women and their partners. Today we share a post from one of these instructors, Shazia. Shazia was in one of our earlier instructor groups and teaches birth classes in Arlington and Fort Worth, TX. We love hearing about what being a Birth Boot Camp instructor means to her. Enjoy!

What it Means to be a Birth Boot Camp Instructor

I have had the pleasure of teaching Birth Boot Camp for almost 2 years now. As a Birth Boot Camp instructor, I am proud to say that I stand out. There is a reason that many providers in my city, send their pregnant moms to a Birth Boot Camp instructor for their comprehensive birth education!

My natural birth journey began during my first pregnancy in 2011. I had the pleasure of signing up to take a class with Donna Ryan, the founder and creator of Birth Boot Camp. When I started searching for a childbirth instructor, I looked for 3 things. I wanted an instructor who was local to me, someone who taught a comprehensive class that covered everything my husband and I needed to know, and someone who was qualified. You may be thinking what does “qualified” mean when it comes to a childbirth educator. Let me explain!

As a Birth Boot Camp instructor, I am CERTIFIED to teach. This is an important qualification. This means that a group of other birth professionals have acknowledged the hard work I put in to my training to become an instructor AND have stamped me with their seal of approval. They made sure that I put the work in to have the necessary knowledge I needed to teach a comprehensive childbirth series. I spent months and months reading a stack of books on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, postpartum care, and special circumstances. I sat in a training class for days learning everything I needed to know to teach Birth Boot Camp. I, then, took a test to be certain I had learned everything I needed to know. That’s what my certification shows! It is an acknowledgement of all of the knowledge I have obtained to teach couples what they need to know to obtain a safe and healthy birth.

As a Birth Boot Camp instructor, I was also required to have given birth naturally and breastfed for at least 12 months. You may ask why that is important. Many of my students have thanked me for sharing personal experiences with them during class to illustrate a particular topic. Unfortunately, I have had some students in my class who didn’t know a single person who had given birth without the use of pain medication. I was the only one they had ever met who could say, “I’ve done it and so can you!” I know that when I sought out Donna’s class, I loved that she had given birth the way I wanted to birth and successfully breastfed. It was important to me to have an instructor who had “been there.” It was incredibly encouraging to know that if she could do it, so could I!

Quality childbirth education comes from qualified childbirth educators! Before you choose a childbirth class, ask yourself if you are taking exceptional curriculum from a qualified instructor. If you can’t answer yes, consider switching classes. There are Birth Boot Camp instructors all over the world and if there isn’t a local instructor in your area, you can always take the entire course online!



Shazia Lackey RN,BSN,BBCI, is a Birth Boot Camp instructor in Arlingon and Fort Worth, TX. You can find her class schedule at Shazia is mother to two sweet children, both born naturally after taking her first Birth Boot Camp class. 


Here is Shazia talking about why she teaches birth classes.

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