Never Break Your Own Water to Start Labor

Julie Kirk
uncomfortable pregnancy

When your doctor breaks your water, it is typically a safe and simple procedure. However, attempting to break your own water can be dangerous for you and your baby and put you at risk of infection and possible labor complications.

The Challenges of the Third Trimester

The third trimester can be particularly challenging. You are physically uncomfortable and emotionally ready to have your baby. This can be a difficult time and waiting for your new arrival can become almost unbearable. You may even become anxious and wonder if there's something you can do to move things along, such as breaking your own water to start labor. However, you need to consider the potential dangers of breaking your water on your own.

The Wait for Labor to Begin

Be reassured that labor will begin when the baby is ready, and there's no need to rush things along by breaking your water. You may want to consider finding things to do to help make the wait more bearable, such as, learning relaxation techniques, preparing the baby's room and reviewing your birth plan. If you happen to go past your due date, your doctor may also recommend inducing labor, if necessary.

Can I Break My Own Water to Start Labor?

The 'bag of waters' or amniotic sac is important to the health of your baby. The sac itself is comprised of a membrane that is filled with amniotic fluid. The amniotic fluid is what surrounds, protects and acts as a shock absorber for your baby. Therefore, you should never break your own water to start labor under any circumstances. The risks are simply too high for both you and your baby. Serious problems that can occur if the sac is broken too early include:

  • The risk of infection. Once the water breaks it is easier for bacteria to enter the uterus. If an instrument is used to break the water, it could also introduce bacteria into the uterus.
  • The fluid in the sac may gush out, leaving the baby with no protective cushion.
  • If an instrument is used to break the water, there is a chance of injuring your baby.
  • Water may break but labor doesn't start, which can lead to serious complications.

Amniotomy Procedure

Your doctor may recommend that he rupture your amniotic sac. This procedure is called an amniotomy. This is typically done after your cervix is thinned out and dilated and the baby's head has shifted into your pelvis. The doctor uses a specially designed instrument with a hook (an amniohook or amniocot). The hook tears and ruptures the membrane which will release the amniotic fluid. Usually, labor will begins within hours of your water being broken. If the rupture of membranes does not help labor progress, you may be at an increased risk of having a cesarean birth.

Preparing for Labor

If you are becoming anxious or uneasy about labor, discuss your feelings with your doctor. In the meantime, consider some methods to make the last few days more bearable.

  • Use relaxation techniques to stay calm, focused and to decrease your anxiety.
  • Stay busy. Anticipating the baby's arrival can be very difficult and, if you stay busy (mind and body) you are less likely to focus on the waiting.
  • Prepare for the baby's arrival. Pack your bags, decorate the nursery, or do other activities to help welcome the baby.
  • Review your birth plan.
  • Try taking walks. Walking is a great form of exercise for many pregnant women that may help induce labor, which in-turn, could help your water break naturally. Being upright and walking can help shift baby lower into your pelvis and closer to the cervix. However, you should discuss if walking is okay with your doctor and avoid walking if you are experiencing a high-risk pregnancy.

Patience Is the Key

Waiting for labor to begin is never easy, but you should never take it upon yourself to start the process by breaking your water on your own. While it is hard to be patient in a time of such anticipation, your baby will make its arrival when he or she is ready. If this doesn't happen, your doctor will discuss further options with you.

Never Break Your Own Water to Start Labor