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Sweeping Membranes to Induce Labor

One of the safest and least invasive methods of inducing labor is the sweeping membrane method. Sweeping membranes to induce labor involves insertion of fingers into the vagina of the pregnant woman to separate the membranes holding the amniotic sac and stimulate uterine contractions...
HerHaleness Staff
The nine month gestational period seems like a long time of waiting for the couple. Their excitement and eagerness to hold their little baby grows as the due date approaches. However, disappointment sets in once the due date has passed and there are no signs of approaching labor. In fact, as the days pass by, anxiety and frustration also sets in. This is when couples decide to induce labor. There are various methods of inducing labor at home such as having sex, nipple stimulation, maternity acupressure, natural herbs, etc. However, have you heard of sweeping membranes to induce labor? Stripping or sweeping membranes are one of the safest methods to induce labor. It's a natural method of encouraging the baby in the womb to come out.
The fetus is held in a bag-like structure in the uterus called the amniotic sac, which is filled with a fluid called amniotic fluid. This sac is held in place inside the uterus by several membranes. To enhance passage of the baby through the vaginal canal, the cervix must dilate. Sometimes, the cervix may need some extra help to dilate. This can be done by separating the membranes holding the amniotic sac.
This procedure is only carried out by the doctor or midwife. In order to initiate labor, the doctor or the midwife inserts his or her gloved fingers into the cervix and attempts to separate one's bag of water (amniotic membrane) from the lower part of the uterus. After the midwife inserts her forefinger and middle finger into the pregnant woman's cervix via the vagina, she will make firm, circular or sweeping movements inside the cervix.
The mucus plug is removed and the sweeps will help separate one's cervix from the membranes of the amniotic sac that is holding the baby. Moreover, once the membranes have been stripped, there is a release of prostaglandins hormones, which instructs the brain to induce labor. They ripen the cervix and bring on uterine contractions for childbirth.
By this method, the chances of labor can be increased tremendously, causing the baby to arrive within the next 48 hours. At times, this method will not work and labor will still not be induced. This means the baby is not ready to come out and the procedure has to be repeated later. Thus, it is important to conduct a membrane sweep, only when the cervix has softened. Membrane sweeping carried out before the cervix has begun to dilate can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.
For some this sweeping membrane procedure may be painful, while some experience no pain at all. Each woman will have her own unique membrane sweeping experience. In terms of safety, this is a safe method because it does not involve the use of chemical-based methods to induce labor, such as prostin gel or ARM (artificial rupture of the membranes). This is the least invasive method of inducing labor and the safest method to end the pregnancy. Sweeping membranes can cause spotting for the next few days, however, this is normal.
For those planning home birth, sweeping membrane is a considerably safe method conducted by doctors or midwifes to induce labor, however, it is always safer to have it conducted in a hospital, where all the medical facilities are available, if something goes wrong.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.