Sweeping the Membranes
What is Sweeping the Membranes?
During a vaginal exam, your midwife will insert her finger through the cervix and pull the bag of waters away from the cervix. This can be uncomfortable and may cause some mild bleeding the rest of the day. Sweeping the membranes can only be done if your cervix is dilated enough for the midwife to insert her finger.
Sweeping the membranes causes your body to increase production of prostaglandins. This helps to ripen the cervix and stimulate labor.
Why choose Sweeping the Membranes?
Sweeping the membranes is a successful method of artificially starting labor and can decrease your chances of need chemical methods to stimulate labor. It is performed during an office visit, so allows you to stay home as long as possible.
How effective is Sweeping the Membranes?
In the studies that have been done, women who have their membranes stripped are less likely to use chemical induction methods because they are less likely to go beyond 42 weeks. However, no studies have determined if it decreases rates of cesarean or other outcomes.
Risks of Sweeping the Membranes
Overall sweeping the membranes appears safe. It causes mild discomfort for the mother, and an increased tendency for pre-labor rupture of the membranes. There is no increased risk of infection.
Goer, Henci. The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth. 1999. New York: The Berkley Publishing Group.
Enkin, Keirse, Nilson, Crowther, Duley, Hodnett and Hofmeyr. A guide to effective care in pregnancy and childbirth Third Edition. 2000. Oxford: Oxford University Press.