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How is breaking the water (amniotomy) induce labor?


Updated May 21, 2014

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Question: How is breaking the water (amniotomy) induce labor?
Answer: Breaking the bag of water, also known as an amniotomy, is one way to attempt to induce labor. During a vaginal exam, your doctor or midwife will insert an amniohook (a large crochet hook looking device with a small sharp end), and snag the amniotic membranes. By creating this tear in the bag, the amniotic fluid will begin to leak out.

The actual breaking of the bag of waters shouldn't be any more painful than any other vaginal exam. It may unleash a lot of fluid, so it is usually done while sitting on special towels to collect the fluid which can be removed. Typically you will continue to leak fluid in small amounts for the remainder of your labor.

After your water is broken you may notice that you begin to have contractions or you may feel like your baby has dropped further in your pelvis. If you were having contractions before your water was surgically ruptured, this is called augmenting labor. If this is the case, then you may feel an increase the intensity of the contractions or you may feel no difference at all.

Risks associated with breaking the water include:

  • fetal distress
  • augmentation of induction with Pitocin
  • failure of labor to start
  • increase in fetal malposition
  • increase in cesarean rates
  • increase in pain sensation with labor

More Information:

Pitocin Induction | Foley Catheter Induction | Other Interventions in Labor

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