Prelabor Rupture of Membranes (PROM) is a condition in pregnancy when the amniotic sac, also known as water bag, breaks before labor begins. It typically occurs at the end of the third trimester. The rupture leads to a leakage of amniotic fluid which could be a slow trickle or a sudden gush.

Key Takeaways

  1. Prelabor Rupture of Membranes (PROM) refers to a condition in pregnancy when the amniotic sac raptures before the onset of labor. This can lead to an increased chance of infection for both mother and baby and could also result in preterm birth.
  2. PROM is diagnosed through physical examination and tests. A proven sign is the leaking of fluid from the vagina. However, pressure, abdominal pain or changes in the color or amount of vaginal discharge may also be symptoms.
  3. Management of PROM is dependent on various factors such as gestational age, condition of the mother and the fetus, and other medical factors. It could include hospitalization, antibiotics, or in some cases, inducing labor may be necessary.


Prelabor rupture of membranes (PROM) is a critical term in motherhood as it refers to a situation where the amniotic sac ruptures before labor starts.

This condition can lead to complications like infection, umbilical cord complications, and even premature birth, especially if it occurs before 37 weeks of pregnancy, a condition known as preterm PROM (PPROM). Therefore, understanding and early diagnosis of PROM is essential to manage and mitigate potential risks to the mother and child, giving healthcare providers better chances at initiating appropriate interventions and treatments to ensure the best possible health outcomes.


The Prelabor Rupture of Membranes (PROM) is a term used in obstetrics to describe a situation where the amniotic sac, often referred to as ‘water breaking’, ruptures before labor begins. This term is used primarily to denote and understand the status of the pregnant mother before the initiation of labor and to plan any subsequent medical interventions accordingly.

It serves as a marker for the health care team to anticipate the need for immediate medical care, thus ensuring the health and safety of both the mother and the baby. Identifying PROM impacts the treatment plan and management of pregnancy.

When recognized, PROM can warn healthcare providers of potential risks such as infection or complication for both mother and the unborn baby. The occurrence of PROM may lead medical professionals to induce labor if it does not start naturally within a specified period after the rupture, mitigating any risk of infection.

Hence, understanding and detecting PROM is crucial—prompt management can prevent complications leading to a healthier mother-baby outcome.

Examples of Prelabor rupture of membranes (PROM)

Case One: A 32-year-old woman, who is currently 37 weeks pregnant with her first child, suddenly notices a fluid leak and rushes to her obstetrician’s office. After a series of tests, the obstetrician confirms that she is experiencing Prelabor rupture of membranes (PROM). The patient is then monitored closely for signs of labor or infection while discussing potential steps for a safe delivery with a healthcare professional.

Case Two: A pregnant woman in her late 20s is at her 35-week routine prenatal checkup when she mentions to her doctor that she has noticed an unusual amount of wetness in her underwear. After further investigation, the doctor confirms that the woman’s waters have broken prematurely – a condition known as Prelabor rupture of membranes (PROM). The woman is then advised to be admitted to the hospital for monitoring and to prepare for possible early delivery.

Case Three: A 34-year-old woman who is 38 weeks pregnant wakes up in the middle of the night to damp sheets. Initially assuming it’s merely night sweats, she soon realizes it could be her water breaking prematurely. She swiftly heads to the hospital where an examination confirms it to be PROM. Post confirmation, doctors monitor the patient for any signs of infection or complications, explaining the situation and discussing the best course of action.

FAQ about Prelabor rupture of membranes (PROM)

What is Prelabor rupture of membranes (PROM)?

Prelabor rupture of membranes (PROM) is a condition that occurs during pregnancy when the amniotic sac ruptures before labor begins. The amniotic sac holds the baby and amniotic fluid, and its rupture signifies that labor will likely begin soon.

What causes Prelabor rupture of membranes (PROM)?

Though the exact cause is unknown, several factors are associated with an increased risk of experiencing PROM, including infections, a history of PROM in previous pregnancies, smoking during pregnancy, and carrying more than one baby at a time (multiple pregnancy).

What are the symptoms of PROM?

The primary symptoms of PROM is the release of fluid, or ‘water breaking’, before the onset of labor. This could be a sudden gush of fluid or a steady trickle. If you suspect that you’re experiencing PROM, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider immediately.

How is PROM diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will consider your symptoms and medical history, and may conduct a physical exam. Lab tests may be performed to check for signs of infection and for the presence of amniotic fluid. In some cases, an ultrasound may be used to confirm the diagnosis.

What are the potential complications of PROM?

PROM increases the risk of infection for both the mother and the baby, and can also lead to complications such as premature birth and underweight babies. Because of these risks, it’s important that PROM is managed promptly and appropriately by your healthcare provider.

How is PROM treated?

The treatment approach for PROM depends on the gestational age of the baby, the mother’s health, and whether there are signs of infection. The healthcare provider may recommend inducing labor or, if the baby is not yet full-term, may suggest antibiotics and in-hospital observation until it’s safer for the baby to be born.

Related Motherhood Terms

  • Amniotic fluid
  • Gestational age
  • Intrauterine infection
  • Preterm birth
  • Induction of labor

Sources for More Information

  • Mayo Clinic: A well-respected authority on health information. You can find information about Prelabor rupture of membranes (PROM) in detail.
  • Healthline: One of the largest health information sites that provides evidence-based articles about different conditions, including PROM.
  • WebMD: A leading resource for health information, offering a vast library of articles on a wide range of health topics.
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: A professional association promoting improvements in women’s health. It provides trusted medical information about various topics related to obstetrics and gynecology, including PROM.