Poll Results: have you or your SO ever broke your water during labor to speed things up?
I voted yes because during our UC - we tried to break my water because I felt stalled - but it didn't work - apparently my amniotic sac was pretty Glad-Bag Tough :). I wasn't really stalled and my water broke when I was pushing the baby out.
For my first birth - the midwife did break my water about 27 hours into labor and perhaps it helped things along a bit. We consulted about it before hand and decided it was the right move. I gave birth 4 hours later.
I think I'm a bit ambivalent about water breaking - but not ambivalent in that I think it should be more of a very last resort kind of thing - and not to just "get labor going" - that's a recipe for disaster, in my opinion. I'm just not sure it helps that much.
AROM sucks. Every time you have a contraction, gushes of amniotic fluid come out. It makes labor more intense (for many moms), and is much more uncomfortable and messy than it needs to be. I know because I had it done with my oldest at my homebirth. My mom had AROM with all of us and it sped up her labor, however, that is not the norm. With my UC's, my water stayed in tact until I was pushing. The force of pushing broke the bag. Less uncomfortable labor, less mess, better for mom and baby. The body continues to make amniotic fluid until the baby is born, so really, AROM just makes more work for your already taxed laboring body.
AROM = Artificial Rupture Of Membranes
I broke my own water when I began pushing with my last birth. If you watch my birth video (recently posted in this forum), I say "Oh yeah," very close to the beginning, after a push or two. That's me breaking my water. I just caught it with my fingernail during a contraction/push. Felt great, and got the baby out faster. I was in a lot of pain and wanted her out.
With my twins, my first twin's water broke right before labor began. The second twin's water broke directly before I started pushing her out, it only took a contraction or two to bring her down.
I think it was in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth where with one woman, labor was stalled, so she poked a pinhole (I think with a needle) into the amniotic sac. Not a true AROM like they do in the hospital, but it was enough to get labor going. I haven't broken my own - it was spontaneous with both - but had an amnio hook just in case, and it really does look like a crochet hook, just extra long. Some non-human primates will rupture their own using their nails, but I think that goes along with following your instincts.
I'd only consider it near or after full dilation and only if I felt like the BoW was in the way. But I think a baby born in the caul would be pretty awesome if it didn't happen to break so I'd have to be really convinced I needed it done. I'm not certain your crochet hook would be sharp enough to break it, but if you did try be sure to sterilize it of course. And wait until WELL into labor if you do.
I do not believe hosp. should break people's water, let alone doing something so interventive and unproven at a place (home) that isn't prepared for the consequences of interference. Birth may not be dangerous, but it is fragile. If stress and positioning will cause complications, I can't imagine what something like breaking your water would do.
As for the question, you can break your water with your fingers or anything else...