Amniotomies are routinely performed in laboring women. Although amniotomies have benefits, they also have risks and pregnant women should be aware of prior to labor in able to help them make educated and informed decisions regarding their care while in labor.
What is an amniotomy?
An amniotomy is an artificial rupture of the membranes (bag of waters). An amniotomy is generally performed in one of two ways; with an amniohook or an amniocot. The amniohook resembles a long crochet hook with a sharp point at the end used to rupture the membranes. An amniocot is similar to a medical glove, however, has a sharp point at the end of one fingertip used to rupture the membranes.
How is an amniotomy performed?
An amniotomy is typically performed by a physician or midwife. Using either an amniocot or an amniohook, the caregiver inserts the instrument into the vaginal canal and is then dragged along the amniotic membrane. Than amniotomy is typically done between contractions in order to prevent a large gush of fluids. The mother typicall feels nothing from the actual procedure aside from mild discomfort and possible cramping.
What are some reasons an amniotomy may be needed?
An amniotomy is usually performed for one of three reasons; to check for meconium in the amniotic fluid, to speed up or induce labor, or to allow the placement of an internal fetal monitor.
What are the advantages of an amniotomy?
By performing an amniotomy, caregivers are able to view the condition of the amniotic fluid as well as check for the presence of meconium in the fluids, which can be dangerous for the baby. By performing an amniotomy, it may allow physicians to take any other necessary measures to care for a baby that may have inhaled meconium.
By performing an amniotomy, labor intensity and cervical dilation may increase, thus speeding up labor.
What are the disadvantages of an amniotomy?
Performing an amniotomy may increase the risk of fetal distress and cord prolapse. An amniotomy also increases the chance of infection, and this chance increases when vaginal exams are performed.
Once an amniotomy is peformed, a caregiver may restrict the woman’s mobility by asking her to remain in bed. She may also be told she is not to use the tub or shower.
Once the membranes have been ruptured, many physicians only allow a specific time to pass (generally 24 hours) before they begin pushing a cesarean.
Vanderlaan, Jennifer. “Amniotomy.” Birthing Naturally. Web. 24 Sept. 2010.
“Amniotomy: 8 Things You Need to Know – IVillage.” IVillage.com: Health, Beauty, Pregnancy, Entertainment, Women’s Community and More. Web. 24 Sept. 2010.
“Amniotomy FAQ – Childbirth.org.” Childbirth Dot Org – Where Childbirth Meets Your Life. Web. 24 Sept. 2010.
Johnson, Robert V. Mayo Clinic Complete Book of Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year. New York: W. Morrow and, 1994. Print.
Kitzinger, Sheila. The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth. New York: Knopf, 1989. Print.