Posted by: babybumper | April 3, 2011

Rushing Water-does breaking water speed up labor?

If the water provides such benefit, why do people have their water broken artificially?

3 main reasons:

  1. Speed up Labor
  2. Induce Labor
  3. Use internal monitors

Does breaking the water speed up labor?

The Cochrane Collaboration is a network that advocates for evidence based practice by reviewing research studies and publishing recommendations. Independent from all companies, they hold to the highest standard of evidence, and now work closely with the World Health organization. Cochrane reviewed 14 research studies about amniotomy, or breaking of water, which involved 4893 women. Upon reviewing, they declare:

“Evidence does not support the routine breaking the waters for women in spontaneous labour. The evidence showed no shortening of the length of first stage of labour and a possible increase in caesarean section. Routine amniotomy is not recommended for normally progressing labours or in labours which have become prolonged.”

According to the highest level of evidence, breaking water does not speed up labor.

by B&M Photography


Even if it did, Why does labor need to be sped up? Does this help mom? Help baby? Increase chances of a vaginal delivery? Or just help the doctor get home for dinner, or get the midwife in bed on time? There are no proven benefits to breaking water in spontaneous labor, only risks.

I overheard a story of one mama, and I was so proud! She came in to the hospital at 37 weeks pregnant contracting. She was dilated to 5 centimeters when her contractions stalled out and she didn’t not dilate any more for 4 hours. Many times this is when she or someone else would suggest breaking her water. Maybe it would help get her back in labor.

Although I am sure she was ready to have a baby, she did not want any intervention, so she went home! Smart woman! She can go home, sleep in her own bed, eat her own food, relax in her own tub!

In 10% of labor the water breaks before contractions start. That’s cool, it is a natural process. For the other 90% Rushing Water has no proven benefit. However, keeping the water intact supports good blood flow to the baby by providing a cushion, prevents infection by maintaining a barrier, and comforts the mother by allowing her to labor around a water balloon.
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