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How can I break my water naturally?

Many pregnant women, especially those nearing their due date, are eager to get labor started and meet their new baby. While there are medical options like induction to stimulate labor, some women prefer to try natural methods first. Breaking your own water, known medically as artificial rupture of membranes (AROM), is one technique some women use to naturally induce labor. This involves rupturing the amniotic sac yourself to release the amniotic fluid and trigger contractions. However, there are risks to consider with AROM and not all providers recommend it. Let’s explore when and how AROM works, its risks and benefits, and other natural ways to induce labor safely.

When Does AROM Work Best?

AROM may stimulate labor most effectively when certain conditions are met:

  • You are full term – at least 37 weeks pregnant.
  • Your cervix is soft, thin, and at least 2 cm dilated.
  • Your baby is engaged low in your pelvis.
  • You are in generally good health with no complications like preeclampsia or placental issues.

If your body is not primed and ready for labor, breaking your water early is unlikely to trigger effective contractions and delivery. It’s best to wait until at least 39 weeks, when your body has undergone the final hormonal changes needed for labor and birth.

How Does Breaking Your Water Help Induce Labor?

To understand how AROM works, it helps to first review the stages of labor:

Early labor

This initial phase is when your cervix starts thinning, softening and dilating. Contractions may begin but are usually mild and far apart. Early labor can last hours or even days for first-time moms.

Active labor

Progressively stronger contractions push the baby down, dilating the cervix to 6-7 cm. Contractions are closer together and last longer. For first pregnancies, active labor averages 8 hours but can be shorter or longer.


This most intense stage lasts an hour or two as contractions strengthen and dilation completes. With each contraction, your cervix opens wider, reaching 10 cm when you are fully dilated.


In the pushing stage, contractions move the baby through the vaginal canal and birth canal. After delivery, contractions keep working to detach and deliver the placenta.

So how can breaking your water help move this process along? Here’s how it works:

  • The rupture of membranes releases prostaglandins, hormones that ripen and dilate the cervix.
  • The release of amniotic fluid reduces pressure inside the uterus, allowing the baby to drop lower into the birth canal.
  • Lower baby position puts more direct pressure on the cervix, encouraging dilation.
  • Reduced amniotic fluid triggers release of oxytocin, the main hormone producing contractions.

Essentially, breaking your water kickstarts a chain reaction of hormonal and physical changes, priming your body for active labor.

What Are the Risks of Breaking Your Own Water?

While AROM can gently stimulate labor, there are some risks to be aware of:

  • Infection – Without the protective barrier of the amniotic sac, you and baby have increased risk of ascending infection from bacteria in the vagina.
  • Fetal distress – With reduced amniotic fluid cushioning, contractions or compression of the umbilical cord can slow baby’s heart rate.
  • Cord prolapse – With water broken, the umbilical cord can slip into the birth canal before baby, cutting off blood flow during contractions.
  • No labor progression – If membranes release but contractions don’t start, induction may ultimately be needed anyway.

For these reasons, many providers recommend AROM only be performed in the hospital where mom and baby can be continuously monitored. Timing is also key – avoiding too early rupture before the cervix is ready.

How to Rupture Your Membranes

If you choose to break your own water, extreme care must be taken:

Wait until at least 39 weeks

This allows labor hormones and birth preparations to complete.

Ensure your cervix is dilated at least 2 cm

Use your fingers to feel that your cervix has thinned, softened and begun opening. This indicates your body is ready.

Confirm baby’s head is down

Feel your lower belly for the hard round head pressing down on your cervix.

Wash hands thoroughly

Scrub well with soap and water up to elbows to prevent introducing bacteria.

Assume a squatting or supported squat position

This opens the pelvis and cervix making membranes accessible. Have support people ready to assist you.

Reach a finger inside the vagina along the cervix

Feel for the amniotic sac protruding through the dilated cervix.

Use a plastic hook device or gloveless finger to gently rupture the sac

If using a finger, keep the nail smooth to avoid scratching baby. Fluid should start flowing out.

Confirm flow of clear fluid

Green or brown tinged fluid indicates potential fetal distress requiring immediate care.

Monitor baby’s heart rate and contractions

Call your provider if labor doesn’t start within 6 hours or if any issues arise.

With care and ideal timing, AROM can safely kickstart a natural labor. However, risks do exist and medical support on standby is advised.

Other Natural Ways to Induce Labor

If you decide breaking your water carries too much risk, there are other natural techniques believed to help stimulate contractions:

Nipple stimulation

Gentle rolling and pulling of nipples triggers oxytocin release.

Sexual intercourse

Orgasm and prostaglandins in semen can prime labor. Use positions allowing deep penetration.


Fine needles placed at specific meridian pressure points may promote cervix changes.


Massaging the ankles in upward strokes and certain reflexology points can sometimes stimulate labor onset.

Castor oil

Ingesting castor oil may cause digestive distress and contractions in some women. Dosage is key.

Spicy food

There is limited evidence capsaicin in peppers, curry and hot sauces stimulate contractions.

Nipple stimulation

Gentle rolling and pulling of nipples triggers oxytocin release.

Squatting and lunges

These open the pelvis and can help the baby descend to put pressure on the cervix.

Red raspberry leaf tea

May help tone the uterus but best taken regularly prior to labor. Avoid if high risk.

Evening primrose oil

Source of prostaglandins which may soften the cervix when taken orally as a capsule.

Walking and movement

Helps baby settle into position. Lunges and figure 8 hip motions add gravity and pressure.

The key is finding what works best for your body. Be patient, keep mobile and have your birth team on alert once you pass your due date. With the right natural technique and some luck, you may find yourself going into labor without medical induction. But also be ready to accept intervention if needed for a safe delivery.

When to Call Your Provider

Contact your care provider right away if:

  • Waters break before 37 weeks.
  • Fluid is green, brown or bloody.
  • You don’t feel baby moving regularly after rupture.
  • Contractions don’t start within 6 hours.
  • You develop a fever of 100.4°F or higher.
  • You experience heavy vaginal bleeding.
  • You have severe abdominal pain.
  • You have any worries about yours or baby’s wellbeing.

Don’t hesitate to get medical care if concerned. It’s always better to be safe.


Breaking your own water can potentially trigger the onset of labor through the release of key hormones and physical changes like baby’s descent. However, risks like infection and cord issues do exist. Natural induction aims to gently encourage labor, not force it. Pay close attention to your body’s cues and your provider’s guidance when deciding if or how to self-rupture membranes. With patience and the right timing, you may be able to avoid medical induction and have a safe, healthy labor start naturally. Wishing you the very best in your upcoming birth experience!