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Birth a Baby by Silk Laef

Artificially Rupturing Membranes Fails to Speed Labor Progress, May Be Harmful

Evidence does not support the routine breaking the waters

for women in spontaneous labour

The aim of breaking the waters (also known as artificial rupture of the membranes,

ARM, or amniotomy), is to speed up and strengthen contractions, and thus shorten the length of labour.

The membranes are punctured with a crochet-like long-handled hook during a vaginal examination,

and the amniotic fluid floods out. Rupturing the membranes is thought to release chemicals

and hormones that stimulate contractions. Amniotomy has been standard practice in recent

years in many countries around the world. In some centres it is advocated and performed

routinely in all women, and in many centres it is used for women whose labours have become

prolonged. However, there is little evidence that a shorter labour has benefits for

the mother or the baby. There are a number of potential important but rare risks associated

with amniotomy, including problems with the umbilical cord or the baby's heart rate


Declercq, E., Sakala, C., Corry, M. P., & Applebaum, S. (2006). Listening to mothers II:

Report of the second national U.S. Survey of women's childbearing experiences. New York: Childbirth Connection.


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