spontaneous rupture of membranes

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Spontaneous rupture of membranes is a physiological event occurring prior to labour. It is usually referred to by the lay public as the 'breaking of the waters' because of the associated loss of amniotic fluid per vaginum.

The membranes may spontaneously and acutely rupture early, and thus may precipitate labour, or alternatively, there may be insidious oligohydramnios.

Spontaneous membrane rupture has been associated with an incompetent cervix - producing 'forewater' rupture - multiple births, foetal distress, chorioamnionitis, and breech presentation.

Last reviewed 01/2018