According to a study published in PLOS Medicine, when a pregnant woman’s water breaks early it is best to wait and watch instead of forcing the labor along, especially in cases where the event occurs prematurely. The study goes so far as to state that natural delivery is the best option and that doctors should not induce labor to speed up delivery.

David van der Ham and colleagues, of the Maastricht Medical Center in the Netherlands, studied the effects and outcomes of more than 500 preterm deliveries that presented with premature rupture of membranes. The rupture of membranes took place between the 34th and 37th week of gestation. The women were broken into two groups – expecting delivery management and induction of labor.

When all statistical data was collected and reviewed, there were no differences between the management and induction groups in terms of blood infection or respiratory distress. When C-sections were required for delivery, the induction group was less likely to suffer maternal infection, but this outcome was expected based on previous medical research.

Despite the statistical insignificance between the outcomes, researchers noted that underdeveloped countries and countries without access to adequate antibiotic treatments may not have the same outcome as the Netherlands. It is appropriate for medical professionals to make decisions regarding labor and delivery based on medical interventions and treatments available to the patient in a given country.

Source: DP van der Ham, SMC Vijgen, JG Nijhuis, JJ van Beek, BC Opmeer, et al. PLoS Medicine. April 26, 2012.