The process known as the breaking of water signifies the beginning of childbirth. This "water" is, in fact, amniotic fluid contained in the amnios, or amniotic sac, which hold the fetus. The amnios progressively fills up with fluid during fetal development. Before childbirth begins, the amniotic sac is detectable on pelvic examination, and the extent of cervical dilation, at an average rate of 1 centimeter per hour once childbirth begins, directly correlates to how near the sac is to rupturing. During childbirth, the amniotic sac ruptures, called rupture of the membrane, and the fluid is released. If the sac ruptures too early before delivery (a premature rupture is qualified as at approximately 12 hours), the risk of infection to the baby is increased. Sometimes, rupture of the membrane takes place outside of the hospital, and the patient feels the release of amniotic fluid, hence the common expression "her water has broken".
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. Translated by Jeff