What is preterm premature rupture of membranes (pPROM)?
pPROM is the medical term for a woman's water breaking prior to term (37 weeks gestation). It is most often used in connotation to water breaking long before term--in the second or early third trimester. Depending on the nature of the rupture and when it occurs, the post-birth prognosis for the developing fetus can be anywhere from incredibly poor to slightly problematic. However, since the baby does not need the fluid to survive in utero (even long-term), it is possible to continue a pregnancy after pPROM.
What problems can pPROM cause?
Amniotic fluid serves a variety of important roles in fetal development. Most notably, the fluid is important for helping babies develop functional lungs during the second trimester. It also provides an infection barrier to help keep the mother and developing baby from getting infected, and acts as a sort of cushion to prevent the baby's limbs and extremities from being fused in one position for a long period of time. Additionally, most times when pPROM occurs, labor ensues within a few days. However, many women have carried babies for weeks without amniotic fluid. The risks for both the baby and mother of a prolonged pregnancy after pPROM are significant, including major risks of infection. Properly managed and monitored, expectant management after pPROM is possible, and many women have gone onto carry for months after an early rupture.
What will my doctors say about pPROM?
Many doctors will advise that you immediately induce labor after pPROM, even when it means terminating the pregnancy when pPROM occurs before viability. This is certainly the safest option for the mother's health, but there are many success stories after pPROM that seem to indicate that at least with proper monitoring, and a recognition of the serious health risks involved, continuing to carry a pregnancy after pPROM does seem to be a very valid option.
Where can I learn more about pPROM and get support?
Since there is a great deal of excellent information and support out there for pPROM already, rather than rehash it here, I'll suggest you check out the following excellent website that has lots of info on pPROM and many stories of both survival and loss after pPROM.