Birth Plans


Amniotomy is the official term for artificially breaking the bag of waters during labor. It is believed that breaking the bag of waters will help to speed up an otherwise slow labor. Amniotomy is part of the Active Management of Labor practiced in some hospitals.

Amniotomy is performed by a midwife or doctor. A long, thin instrument with a small hook on the end is inserted into the vagina and through the cervix so it can catch and rip the bag of waters. To perform an amniotomy, the cervix must be dilated enough to allow the instrument through the cervix, generally at least a two.

Potential Benefits

Unlike other medical methods of starting labor, amniotomy does not add synthetic hormones to your labor. Instead it seems to stimulate your body's own labor process. Amniotomy allows the use of an internal electronic fetal monitor.


Amniotomy alone is unpredictable, it may take hours for labor to start. Because it increases the risk for infection, most caregivers use amniotomy in combination with synthetic oxytocin. Birth does happen faster when amniotomy is combined with synthetic oxytocin than when amniotomy is used alone.

Risks for Mother

Risks for Baby


Goer, Henci. The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth. 1999. New York: The Berkley Publishing Group.
Enkin, Keirse, Nilson, Crowther, Duley, Hodnett and Hofmeyr. A guide to effective care in pregnancy and childbirth Third Edition. 2000. Oxford: Oxford University Press.