Pregnancy: membrane sweep

Pregnancy: membrane sweep
November 22 20:34 2016

A membrane sweep is a well-known and practiced method of attempting to kick-start or nudge labor when a pregnancy is now overdue. It is the first recommendation by medical professionals to induce labor and get things started. All other methods of inducing labor are usually explored after membrane sweep has failed or when it is not an option.



What is induced labor and when is it done?

Induced labor is artificially starting the labor process. It is one of the most common things in pregnant women as 1 in 5 babies are not born on their due date. shell2Often, labor is induced when pregnancy has surpassed its due date, meaning it has gone over 42 weeks. Sometimes labor can be induced for medical reasons like to stop intra uterine bleeding, high-risk pregnancies and problems with the baby growth among other conditions.

In the majority of cases induction is planned and prepared for unless in cases of extreme urgency of course. This means that the pregnant woman and her partner have the time to discuss and weigh the options of inducing labor. The relevant doctor or midwife will let you know of all available options and their associated risks and advantages. On that list of induction, membrane sweeping is the first to be discussed. Ultimately, it is the patient’s choice o which method of inducing labor should be followed if induction is an option at all.

Medically, women have a choice to induce labor once their pregnancy has passed the 42 weeks mark. If they choose not to induce labor then they are put under high surveillance to make sure the baby is monitored all the time until labor starts on its own.


Reasons for inducing labor

Some of the reasons of inducing labor in pregnant women include the following:

  • Overdue pregnancy
  • The bag of waters has already broken but labor did not start automaticalluy
  • Problems with the unborn baby
  • High risk pregnancy


1. Overdue pregnancy

As mentioned above, this concerns women whom their pregnancy shave surpassed the 42weeks mark. After 42 weeks of pregnancy, chances of complicated pregnancy and births are increased.


2. Broken bag of waters

Normally once your bag of waters breaks, labor should follow automatically soon or just some time after. If this does not happen, labor has to be induced so as to prevent the baby from contracting infections and experiencing intra-uterus trauma, as there is not amniotic fluid to protect the baby anymore.


3. Problems with the unborn baby

Baby health problems can be a reason for inducing labor. The problems can range from growth issues to life threatening conditions. To protect or save the baby, induced labor can be the chosen route.


4. High-risk pregnancy

High-risk pregnancy is the second most common reason for inducing labor after overdue pregnancies. Women with diabetes, high blood pressure and history of pregnancy problems are the ones concerned by this cause for inducing labor.


Inducing labor by way of membrane sweeping

Membrane sweeping is a very easy procedure of inducing labor. Like any other method of inducing labor, membrane sweeping is performed at a medical facility with the presence of medical personnel. The doctor in charge or midwife performs the procedure after verifying all vital signs.

The procedure starts of by an internal examination, if everything is okay a finger is inserted into the opening of the cervix and circular movements are gentled performed. By moving around the finger, the amniotic sac adjacent to the cervix should separate, this separation of the amniotic sac causes the release of prostaglandins into the blood stream, which will make the pregnant woman go into labor.

In the event that the sweeping action of the procedure is not possible, the person performing the procedure will try to try and massage the cervix instead. This will stimulate the cervix into getting ready for childbirth. When it is ready it becomes soft and dilates, allowing for membrane sweeping to be done better and more efficiently in the coming days or so.


When a membrane sweep is performed, labor should begin within 48hrs. Chances of this procedure working are increased if the cervix is ready for labor (soft and dilated). The procedure if completely safe for you and your baby unless the waters have already broken then membrane sweep is contra-indicated. Performing the membrane sweep procedure when the waters have broken can increase the chances of you and your baby getting infections.

To some women, membrane sweeping may be somewhat uncomfortable as naturally the cervix is difficult to access and manipulate before labor has begun. As such, some women man experience pain during the procedure, in which case the labor exercises can be helpful in relieving most of the pain during the sweep. It is normal to experience light spotting and abdominal cramps shortly after the sweeping has been performed.

The natural indications of membrane sweeping for the women in their first pregnancy is around 40 to 41 weeks of pregnancy during the antenatal care visits. There after the procedure is offered to the women after every 3 days. Women who have been pregnant and given birth before can be look to membrane sweep at week 41 of pregnancy.


Other ways of inducing labor apart from membrane sweeping include use of medication like Pitocin, breaking the waters, physical exercise, acupuncture, and use of hormones.


In conclusion, membrane sweeping is a simple procedure that has proved very useful in kick starting labor. It remains the pregnant woman’s choice, if you do not want the membrane sweeping procedure there are many other ways to induce labor that can be made available to you.



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