When an expecting mother's water breaks, she may experience a sensation of wetness in the vaginal or perineal areas, and there can be an obvious gush or continuous slow trickle of fluid. According to Mayo Clinic, determining if the water has broken can be difficult and is sometimes confused with the expulsion of urine.
Medically, when someone's water breaks, it is known as a rupture of the membranes. This is one of the signs that the baby is ready to be delivered, according to Mayo Clinic. The water in question is actually the amniotic fluid that has surrounded the baby during its development in the womb. Generally, a woman's water breaks at the commencement of labor or during actual labor itself. Sometimes the water breaks but labor does not start. When this occurs, it is known as premature rupture of membranes.
Although the membranes usually rupture spontaneously, this is not always the case. Once active labor has begun, a medical professional may rupture the membranes instead in an effort to speed up the process of labor. This is done by tugging on the amniotic sac until it ruptures using a long hook that looks much like a crochet hook, according to WebMD.