Premature pre-rupture of membranes (PPROM) is responsible for 30 to 40 percent of all preterm births in the United States each year. I had never heard of PPROM before I was diagnosed, and I can only speak to my experience, especially because the outcomes can vary drastically depending on your child’s gestational age.
According to the PPROM Foundation, a baby born at 27 weeks has a 90 percent survival rate, whereas a baby born at 23 weeks only has a 17 percent chance. According to American Family Physician, 50-75 percent of women left to natural delivery will deliver in one week of PPROM. Prior to 34 weeks gestation, factors such as lung maturity, cord prolapse and infection are weighed to determine whether to induce or attempt to postpone labor. At 34 weeks, gestation and further induction of labor is standard protocol, because at that point the risk of infection is higher than any benefit that could be received from a longer pregnancy.
While I was pregnant, I continued my active lifestyle, and tried to live my life as normally as possible. I was struggling with heartburn and lower back pain, but overall I was very fit and healthy. As a naturally thin person, I didn’t look pregnant to people who didn’t know me well until I was about six months along.
The morning of the day that it happened, I carried a backpack, and climbed the stairs to an all-day networking event. After getting to the top, breathless, I decided to take the elevator the rest of the day. I stood up a lot that day, but also looked around and tried to find a chair as often as I could. More than in the past, I was starting to feel exhausted by the extra weight I was carrying.
That night, at the event after party, I started having to excuse myself and run to the restroom. I thought to myself, “How embarrassing, I’m so pregnant I’m incontinent!” It started to get late, and I decided it was my time to leave the party. I soaked through my pants on my way home. I thought, “Thank goodness that didn’t happen at the party!”
I continued to leak after I got home. At this point, I suspected that this might not be incontinence. After all, I hadn’t had anything to drink in a while, and I had already used the bathroom so often. I started to search on my phone. Per the advice of an article I found through Google, I lied down to see if I would still leak. The article indicated that if I was still leaking, it may be amniotic fluid, and I would need to call your doctor.
I still was leaking, even while lying down, so I called the my midwife group’s after hours number, and when they didn’t answer, I called the hospital.
The person answering the phone at the hospital non-nonchalantly told me to come in for some tests. I asked them if I needed to bring anything, and the girl on the other line said, “No, you don’t need to bring anything.”
So around 11 pm I drove myself to the hospital with nothing but my purse, and was led at check-in to an exam room. The test they performed was similar to a pap-smear. It involved testing a sample to see if it was amniotic fluid. The test came back positive and I was told that I was to be induced.
This was not my plan. I had practiced weeks and weeks of Iyengar Yoga for Motherhood. I was ideally planning to meditate my way through a natural birth with my yoga instructor by my side. I was expecting to at least pack a bag.
I asked if I had any other options. The nurse said that if this had happened earlier, I probably would have been put on bed rest at the hospital to postpone delivery, but because I was 36 weeks pregnant and had waited so long before coming to the hospital, they needed to induce me because of risk of infection.
So I called my mother and my child’s father, and awaited my fate as they gowned me up, administered an IV of Pitocin and set me up in a delivery room.
I didn’t actually feel any contractions until the next day around 6 am. The planned yoga and meditation went out the window as the contractions quickly went from not feeling anything to intense. Around noon I asked for an epidural, as the spacing between contractions was too short for me to center. The epidural slowed everything down, but allowed me some rest. My son was born a healthy 7 pounds, 2 ounces at 4:29 pm.
I know I’m very fortunate that my child was born healthy, even though he was born early.