image001 The amniotic sac which is also known as the “bag of waters” is basically the double membrane in which the fetus develops in the uterus. The amniotic sac is fluid filled to protect the fetus and acts as a shock absorber in case of any injury. It also allows for effective movement of the fetus in the womb. Typically, the amniotic sac is what you will hear most women saying that their “water broke” when it ruptures. Some health care providers may suggest “sweeping membranes” or “stripping membranes” towards the end of a pregnancy or at around the 40th week of gestation. This method usually involves a technique that is usually used to try and stimulate labor. According to some research,stripping membranes can be beneficial in stimulating the release of prostaglandin hormones that soften the cervix to prepare for labor.

What Is Membrane Stripping?

Membrane stripping or sweeping membrane simply refers to a technique that is used to bring up labor when you are overdue. This method is usually the first before any other induction methods are used, and it is performed by your midwife or medical doctor to stimulate labor or get your labor going. While carrying out this procedure, your doctor will sweep a finger around your cervix area. When this is done, it separates the amniotic membranes surrounding the baby from the cervix. The separation stimulates the hormones such as prostaglandins, which automatically kick-starts your labor.

This whole process may also be referred to as “stretch and sweep,” as your midwife or your medical provider may try to stretch or massage your cervix if the sweep isn’t possible. With this stimulation alone, it’s enough to ripen the cervix. If your cervix responds and starts to open and soften, your midwife can then be able to do a proper sweep on subsequent visits.

Want to know more about what membrane stripping means? Check out the video below:

Who Is a Proper Candidate for Membrane Stripping?

1. Who Should Have

You will want to try having your membrane stripped or seeped only when:

  • You are sick and the doctor or your health care provider tells you or advises you that you are supposed to have your infant at the moment.
  • When your doctor examines your infant and realizes that he/she is sick. In this situation, you may be told to do it since it could be safe for your infant to be delivered at the moment.
  • When you are 42 weeks pregnant.
  • You can have it after 42 weeks of pregnancy. If you are planning to have your infant at home or at a birth center where maybe you will not be allowed to deliver after 42 weeks of pregnancy.

2. Who Should Not Have

In other circumstances you may not be advised to have your membrane stripped off, and here are some of the situations:

  • When you have been told by a doctor or a health care provider that it’s not safe to have the baby vaginally.
  • If during your pregnancy period, you have experienced unexplained bleeding.
  • When during your regular medical examinations, it is found that you are supposed to have the infant urgently, and the only safer way is by use of medications.
  • When you want everything in regard to your pregnancy to unfold naturally and there is no good reason to get your labor induced.
  • You have a group B strep (GBS) in your vagina. If you have this, then you may not want your membranes to get stripped.

What Should I Expect After My Membrane Has Been Stripped?

When you have your membrane stripped, you will ultimately expect some normal contractions. You will also experience some slight scarce vaginal bleeding that will usually vary in color. Sometimes it could be pink or even blood tinged discharge. When you realize that these signs are eminent, it is important to continue monitoring the vaginal discharges as well as the contractions. The contractions become frequent and regular especially for first time mothers who will experience contractions every 5 minutes or less within the 2 to 3 hours. For other mothers, painful contractions will occur every 10 minutes or less and last for up to 1 to 2 hours. You will be required to go into labor and deliver the infant if you get the contractions or a vaginal discharge that is more like a period, or your water breaks.

Are There Any Risks of Membrane Stripping?

  • 24 hours after stripping, you may experience cramping, which may disturb your sleep, this actually means that you will have to struggle with sleep before going into labor.
  • Some people, however, may worry that stripping can lead to the rupture or breaking of the bag of water. Studies that have been conducted on this do not show prevalence of this effect with membrane stripping.

More Facts About Membrane Stripping

1. Restless After Membrane Stripping

Some women may become restless especially at the end of their pregnancy and wish they could make the labour begin. However, membrane stripping may make you lose sleep and become uncomfortable just before your labor begins, but it is advisable you remain as rested as possible when you wait for your infant and the labor as well.

2. Uncomfortable After Membrane Stripping

Membrane sweep may sometimes be uncomfortable since the cervix is difficult to reach before the onset of labor. It can prove to be painful with some women. If this is the case, they can use breathing techniques to relax as the process continues. Slight spotting and irregular contractions may also be experienced afterwards.

3. Usually Deliver by 41st Week of Pregnancy

Pregnant women will mostly deliver their infants by the 41st week of pregnancy, only about 3 out of 100 will go past 42 weeks of pregnancy. Thus membrane stripping may not be crucial to prevent you from going past 42 weeks.

If you want to see how your membrane is stripped, you can watch the video below: