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Breaking Your Water to Induce or Increase Labor

There are numerous methods to induce or pace up labor. One technique individuals typically speak about is deliberately breaking the bag of water (amniotic sac) across the child. This process known as amniotomy or synthetic rupture of membranes (AROM). It’s used to hurry up or induce labor.

Folks typically surprise how lengthy after the physician breaks your water will the child be born. Sometimes, amniotomy will rapidly get labor going however the time to supply varies broadly from minutes to many hours.

Purposefully breaking the amniotic sac as a labor intervention has been utilized by obstetricians and midwives for greater than 100 years. At present, the usage of amniotomy varies around the globe. The process is used routinely in some locations and sometimes in others. Be taught extra about why and when docs could recommend breaking your waters to induce or increase labor.

What Is Breaking the Waters?

The amniotic sac is made up of two membranous layers: the amnion and the chorion. The sac strains the uterus and homes the amniotic fluid, the placenta, and is the place the fetus develops throughout being pregnant. Along with offering a barrier to an infection, the sac additionally cushions the fetus because the mom strikes about.

Round 10% of pregnant individuals expertise a spontaneous rupture of membranes. When the “water breaks,” it’s normally thought of an indication labor is starting.

In some instances, the sac could not open up by itself as labor begins. The physician or midwife could advocate the sac be ruptured deliberately in a process known as amniotomy. Obstetricians have used amniotomy to stimulate labor or assist it progress for greater than a century. Nevertheless, its effectiveness is just not 100% sure.

An amniotomy is carried out in hopes of strengthening contractions and rushing up labor, with the general aim of shortening labor. The process could affect labor in each chemical and bodily methods. Amniotic fluid accommodates chemical substances and hormones which, when launched, are thought to stimulate labor.

Bodily, the sac supplies a cushion between the child’s head and the cervix. If the child’s head is effectively utilized to the cervix, breaking the bag of waters permits the top to use extra direct stress on the cervix to encourage dilation. If amniotomy is just not carried out, the sac will normally spontaneously rupture throughout lively labor (anytime between the primary indicators of labor and supply).

Amniotomy Advantages

If the amniotic sac doesn’t rupture spontaneously, the bag of waters could be damaged by a medical skilled to both begin or increase labor.


The perfect technique for beginning labor (for any indication) is dependent upon the favorability of the cervix. Amniotomy could also be finished to start out or induce labor and, in some instances, could also be used alone. Extra generally, and with a good cervix, the best technique is normally a mix of this process and IV pitocin.


Amniotomy might also be finished after a lady is already in labor with the hope of rushing up or augmenting the method. Whereas it doesn’t at all times hurry issues alongside, it may well typically present a slight discount within the want for a Cesarean delivery (C-section), although with some tradeoffs.

Fetal Monitoring

In case your child requires shut monitoring, your obstetrician or midwife might have to interrupt the amniotic sac. Amniotomy is required when inner fetal monitoring is required, as a monitor have to be positioned on the child’s scalp. Breaking the bag of waters should even be finished to insert an intrauterine stress catheter. On this process, a catheter is positioned within the uterus to find out the energy of contractions.

Detecting Meconium

Breaking the bag of waters can reveal the presence of meconium-stained amniotic fluid. If meconium is discovered throughout amniotomy, it offers the healthcare group time to plan acceptable measures, which can rely on the thickness of the meconium.

Making the Resolution

Earlier than having an amniotomy to induce or increase labor, your obstetrician will calculate the probability of the process being profitable (Bishop’s rating) and ensure there usually are not any explanation why you shouldn’t have the process (contraindications).

Bishop’s Rating

Earlier than your bag of waters is damaged, your obstetrician will calculate a quantity generally known as the Bishop’s rating. The rating offers an estimate of the “favorability” of your cervix, which in flip helps estimate if breaking your bag of waters is more likely to begin labor or not.

Your Bishop’s rating is calculated by assigning factors based mostly on the dilation of your cervix, your effacement (how skinny your cervix has grow to be), your fetal station (how low the child is in your pelvis), in addition to its consistency and place.

Cervical examination 0 Factors 1 Level 2 Factors 3 Factors
Dilation (cm) Closed 1-2 cm 3-4 cm 5-6 cm
Effacement (p.c) 0-30 p.c 40-50 p.c 60-70 p.c 80 p.c
Fetal station -3 -2 -1, 0 +1, +2
Consistency Agency Medium Comfortable
Place Posterior Med Anterior

A rating of 8 or extra means your cervix is “favorable” and there’s a good likelihood of getting a vaginal supply. Your bag of waters shouldn’t be damaged until your fetal station is 0 or constructive. In case your cervix is just not favorable (your Bishop’s rating is lower than 6), induction with amniotomy and pitocin is normally not really helpful.

Nevertheless, there are different procedures, equivalent to utilizing prostaglandin vaginal insert or Cervidil to ripen your cervix, which can be really helpful as a substitute. You might also select to attend till your cervix is extra favorable.


There are a couple of conditions through which amniotomy shouldn’t be carried out. These are normally pretty apparent and could be decided by reviewing a routine ultrasound (throughout the second trimester or later) and performing a vaginal examination. These embody:

  • Irregular presentation: If the child is breech or in one other malpresentation equivalent to face presentation or forehead presentation.
  • Child’s head Is just not engaged: The newborn’s head could also be “floating” on an examination: A fetal station of 0 means the child’s head is absolutely engaged.
  • Vasa previa: Vasa previa is a uncommon situation through which the blood vessels from the placenta or umbilical wire cross over the cervix beneath the child. Vasa previa could be detected on a routine ultrasound throughout the second trimester.

The Process

After explaining an amniotomy and ensuring your cervix is “ripe,” your obstetrician or midwife will get you arrange for the process. Since your bag of waters might be launched, the nurse will ensure you have loads of clear towels beneath you. Then, your physician or midwife will carry out a cautious vaginal examination to ensure the child’s head is firmly utilized to your cervix.

The membranes might be snagged utilizing an amnihook (a big machine with a small sharp finish, much like a crochet hook) or an amnicot (a glove with a small sharp hook on the finish of 1 finger). After a tear within the bag is created, the amniotic fluid will start to move out. It might unleash plenty of fluid directly or start as only a small trickle. You’ll proceed to leak fluid in small quantities for the rest of your labor.

Breaking the bag of waters should not be any extra painful than an everyday vaginal examination to test your cervix.

As soon as the amniotic sac has been damaged, the labor group will proceed to observe you and your child. If you wish to rise up and stroll round, your nurse will provide you with a big mesh pad to catch any drainage.

You might start to have contractions or really feel like your child has dropped additional in your pelvis. For those who had been having contractions earlier than your water was damaged, the depth could enhance. You might as a substitute really feel no distinction in any respect.

Dangers and Issues

So long as you have got a good cervix and the child is engaged, amniotomy has comparatively few dangers. Doable issues embody:

  • Twine prolapse: The probability of wire prolapse, or the umbilical wire dropping into the vagina in entrance of the child, is low if the fetal station is 0.
  • Failure of labor to start out: Labor could not start after amniotomy and utilizing pitocin. Nevertheless, by this level you might be normally “dedicated” to ship as there’s a small threat of an infection the longer the bag is damaged. When water breaks by itself earlier than labor begins, the vast majority of individuals go into labor inside 24 hours.
  • Fetal misery: Uncommonly, breaking the bag of waters can lead to fetal misery.
  • Enhance in fetal malposition: If the child’s head is just not effectively utilized to the cervix, breaking the bag of waters could enhance the chance of malposition, which might result in issues with supply.

Whereas a rise in ache is just not a complication, it is value noting. That mentioned, it may be checked out as an anticipated “profit” if the process is efficient, because it means the beginning and development of labor.

There’s a barely elevated threat of Cesarean supply when breaking the bag of waters is finished for induction. The C-section price is barely decrease when it’s finished to enhance labor.

In some instances, the detection of meconium after amniotomy and the related elevated C-section price wouldn’t be thought of a complication. With heavy meconium, a C-section could also be finished to keep away from having the child aspirate (breathe in) meconium throughout supply.

Inquiries to Ask

Earlier than agreeing to have your waters damaged, there are a couple of questions it would be best to ask your physician or midwife:

  • Are there different interventions which may be wanted due to this?
  • Do I’ve time to make this resolution?
  • How would you guess an amniotomy will change labor in my case?
  • What are my alternate options?
  • What indicators of issues will you be on the lookout for and the way?
  • Will I be allowed to stroll after my water is damaged?
  • Will I would like additional monitoring?

A Phrase From Verywell

The labor intervention of amniotomy has a number of benefits and drawbacks. As with all medical process, you will need to weigh potential dangers towards potential advantages. For instance, pregnancies that reach every week or extra past the due date can lead to issues, and induction is one solution to scale back these dangers. 

Each being pregnant is completely different. If amniotomy is taken into account, your physician or midwife can take into consideration your medical historical past, the state of your cervix, and your private preferences to find out what’s finest for you and your child.

Verywell Household makes use of solely high-quality sources, together with peer-reviewed research, to assist the details inside our articles. Learn our editorial course of to study extra about how we fact-check and preserve our content material correct, dependable, and reliable.
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  2. Caughey AB, Robinson JN, Norwitz ER. Up to date prognosis and administration of preterm untimely rupture of membranes. Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2008;1(1):11–22.

  3. Wei  S, Wo  BL, Qi  HP, Xu  H, Luo  ZC, Roy  C, Fraser  WD. Early amniotomy and early oxytocin for prevention of, or remedy for, delay in first stage spontaneous labour in contrast with routine care. Cochrane Database of Systematic Evaluations 2013, Situation 8. Artwork. No.: CD006794. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006794.pub4.

  4. Khandelwal R, Patel P, Pitre D, Sheth T, Maitra N. Comparability of Cervical Size Measured by Transvaginal Ultrasonography and Bishop Rating in Predicting Response to Labor Induction. J Obstet Gynaecol India. 2018;68(1):51-57. doi:10.1007/s13224-017-1027-y

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH

Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, creator, childbirth and postpartum educator, licensed doula, and lactation counselor.

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