Membrane Sweep: What it is and What to Expect
A membrane sweep, also known as a “stretch and sweep”, is a procedure used late in pregnancy to encourage the body to start labor. It is often done in a doctor’s office and can be done as early as 37 weeks into the pregnancy.
What is a Membrane Sweep?
A membrane sweep is a process that is done by a medical professional to help induce labor. A doctor or midwife will use their fingers to separate the amniotic sac from the wall of the uterus. This is done to release hormones that will stimulate contractions and cause labor to begin.
What to Expect During a Membrane Sweep
Before a membrane sweep, the doctor or midwife will do a routine vaginal exam to check on the length of the cervix, the position of the baby, and if the baby’s amniotic sac is still intact.
The procedure itself should not hurt, but for some it can be uncomfortable. The doctor will use their fingers to “sweep” around the cervix in an effort to separate the amniotic sac from the uterus. After the procedure is complete, the patient may experience some mild cramping or irregular contractions.
Benefits of a Membrane Sweep
There are several benefits to having a membrane sweep done.
- It helps to bring on labor naturally without the need for medical interventions such as a c-section.
- It can reduce the overall length of labor.
- It can reduce the risk of postpartum infection.
- It can reduce the risk of preterm labor.
Risks of a Membrane Sweep
Although there are benefits to having a membrane sweep done, there are also some potential risks associated with the procedure.
- Infection: There is a risk of infection due to the loss of fluid and the introduction of bacteria to the area.
- Premature Birth: There is a risk that the baby will be born prematurely if the membrane sweep is too successful.
- Uterine Rupture: Rarely, the amniotic sac can tear and cause a uterine rupture which can be life-threatening for both the baby and the mother.
A membrane sweep is a safe and effective way to induce labor. However, it is important to understand the risks and benefits of the procedure before deciding if it is right for you and your baby. Talk to your doctor to determine if a membrane sweep is the right choice for you.