Top of the page
Before a baby is born, the amniotic sac breaks open, causing amniotic fluid to gush out or, less commonly, to slowly leak. When this happens before contractions start, it is called prelabour rupture of membranes (PROM). PROM can occur at any time during pregnancy.
When PROM occurs before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy, it usually leads to preterm labour. You may hear this early PROM referred to as preterm prelabour rupture of membranes, or pPROM.
Preterm PROM is often unexpected, and the cause is often hard to identify. Known causes of pPROM include:
Preterm labour may begin shortly after pPROM occurs. Sometimes, when a slow leak is present and infection has not developed, contractions may not start for a few days or longer. In general, the later in a pregnancy PROM occurs, the sooner the onset of labour.
Sometimes a leak high up in the amniotic sac may reseal itself so that preterm labour does not start or subsides.
Treatment for pPROM may include:
After amniotic membranes have ruptured, tocolytic medicine is less effective in slowing or stopping preterm labour contractions. But tocolytic medicine is sometimes used to delay a preterm birth long enough for antibiotics and antenatal corticosteroid medicine to work (24 hours) or long enough to transport the pregnant person to a hospital that has a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).footnote 1
CitationsAmerican Academy of Pediatrics and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2007). Obstetric and medical complications. In Guidelines for Perinatal Care, 6th ed., pp. 175–204. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
Adaptation Date: 5/24/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. All rights reserved. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.