Breaking the water to begin labor during pregnancy, also called amniotomy, is a procedure that should be only done in rare cases by a physician. The amniotic fluid sac protects the unborn child from invasive bacteria and infection and should normally break on its own during labor.
Water breaking prematurely can cause many complications in delivery and it is never recommended to be done at home. The risk factors for breaking the water too early include maternal or fetal infection, placental abruption, umbilical cord problems and delivery complications, according to the Mayo Clinic. If the water does not break on its own, an amniotomy may be performed by a physician in a planned delivery situation during active labor. If the water breaks prior to the 37th week of pregnancy, it is known as preterm premature rupture of membranes (preterm PROM) and generally the child is born within a week of the premature rupture.
Risk factors for preterm PROM
- A history of preterm PROM in a previous pregnancy
- A genital tract infection
- Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
- Smoking while pregnant
- A low body mass index, or BMI
Inducing labor is only done for the health and safety of the mother or child. Breaking the water prematurely for reasons other than medical and without the guidance of trained medical personnel is not worth the risk, according to WebMD.