Amniotomy, also known as artificial rupture of membranes (AROM), is a medical procedure used in childbirth. It involves a healthcare professional breaking a pregnant woman’s water, or rupturing the amniotic sac, to stimulate or speed up labor. This is typically done using a thin plastic hook to make a small tear in the amniotic sac.

Key Takeaways

  1. Amniotomy, also known as ‘breaking the waters’, is a common procedure during childbirth where the amniotic sac is deliberately ruptured to induce or accelerate labor.
  2. The procedure is typically performed by a healthcare professional using a thin, plastic hook to make a small tear in the amniotic sac, and it is generally painless with the discomfort being similar to a regular vaginal exam.
  3. While Amniotomy can help speed up labor, it also carries certain risks such as infection, changes in the baby’s heart rate, or umbilical cord problems. Therefore, it’s important to discuss with the healthcare provider about the benefits and risks.


Amniotomy, also commonly referred to as “breaking the water,” is an important term in motherhood and obstetrics as it’s a key procedure that can be used during labor to either induce or accelerate the birthing process.

During an amniotomy, a healthcare professional deliberately ruptures the amniotic sac, the fluid-filled membrane that surrounds and protects the baby during pregnancy, thereby releasing the amniotic fluid.

This can stimulate uterine contractions and can help to progress labor, especially in instances where labor is not advancing naturally or as expected.

Consequently, it is a vital intervention that can directly impact the course and management of labor, affecting the mother and baby’s health.

Therefore, understanding the implications of amniotomy is crucial for expecting mothers, their families, and their healthcare providers.


Amniotomy, often referred to as breaking the water, is a procedure used predominantly during childbirth to stimulate or expedite labor. The primary purpose of an amniotomy is to accelerate the process of labor, particularly when labor has started but isn’t progressing ideally.

The procedure helps increase the efficiency of contractions, enabling a smoother, quicker delivery process. It could also allow doctors to examine the amniotic fluid for signs of meconium (the baby’s first stool), which could indicate fetal distress if present.

Amniotomy is generally conducted by a healthcare professional or a skilled birth attendant using a thin, plastic hook to make a tiny incision in the amniotic sac, enabling the fluid to drain out. This in turn puts more direct pressure on the cervix and assists it in dilating more effectively.

Additionally, it provides the medical staff a way to monitor the baby’s heart rate more accurately. This procedure is frequently utilized as a part of active management protocols of labor and could prove particularly beneficial in preventing prolonged pregnancies and decreasing the requirement for cesarean sections.

Examples of Amniotomy

Amniotomy, also known as ‘breaking the waters’, is a common medical intervention during labor where the amniotic sac is artificially ruptured by a healthcare professional to speed up or induce labor. Here are three real-world examples:

Medical Induction: A mother in the late stages of her pregnancy may have her doctor recommend an amniotomy if her labour is not progressing as expected. The doctor would rupture the amniotic sac using a medical hook to stimulate contractions and further labour progress.

Post-term Pregnancy: If a mother is past her due date without showing signs of natural labor, an amniotomy may be performed to induce labor. This procedure can set in motion the labor progress and help to prevent potential complications associated with prolonged pregnancies.

Nonstress Test: In some cases, an amniotomy is done before a nonstress test (to monitor baby’s heartbeat) in mothers with high-risk pregnancies. By breaking the water, doctors can better monitor the fetus and can decide next steps based on the presence of meconium or in case of any distress. It allows them to take informed decisions about whether to induce labor or perform a cesarean section.

FAQ: Amniotomy

What is an Amniotomy?

An amniotomy, also known as “breaking the water”, is a procedure in which a doctor makes a small opening in the amniotic sac during labor to speed up contractions and delivery.

When is an Amniotomy necessary?

Amniotomy might be needed if a mother’s labor isn’t proceeding fast enough or if immediate delivery becomes necessary due to a medical emergency.

What are the risks involved in Amniotomy?

There are risks associated with amniotomy, such as infection, umbilical cord problems, and changes in the baby’s heart rate. However, it is a common procedure and complication rates are low.

What to expect after an Amniotomy?

After an amniotomy, contractions usually get stronger and more frequent, and labor may progress more quickly. It might feel slightly uncomfortable when the water breaks, but it’s not usually painful.

Can I refuse an Amniotomy?

Yes, like any procedure, you can refuse an amniotomy. However, in some circumstances, it might be recommended for the well-being of you or your baby.

Related Motherhood Terms

  • Obstetrics
  • Fetus
  • Membranes
  • Labor Induction
  • Birth Canal

Sources for More Information

  • Mayo Clinic: A non-profit academic medical center focused on integrated clinical practice, education, and research.
  • WebMD: An American corporation which provides health news, advice, and expertise.
  • Healthline: A provider of health information and guidance focused on making people stronger.
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG): A professional association of physicians specializing in obstetrics and gynecology in the United States.