Stripping Membrane to Induce Labour: Facts, Pros and Cons


Pregnancy brings in your mind a host of questions filled with uncertainty and intuition. Becoming a parent for the first time is certainly not an easy task neither is carrying a baby for nine months in your womb. It is obvious that when you conceive for the first time, you will be filled with several doubts, questions and fears about how you would bring the baby to the world.  If Stripping membrane is something that you are clueless about, you have arrived at the right place!

All You Need to Know About Stripping Membrane to Induce Labour

stripping membrane

What is stripping membrane?

Stripping membranes or sweeping membranes is a conventional process of inducing labor in pregnant women. The process involves inserting a finger through the cervix to separate the bag of water or amniotic membrane or sac from the side of the uterus near the cervix. This is usually done during a routine pelvic examination. It is often considered as a safe method of inducing labour as it does not involve any kind of medication.

When is membrane stripping done?

The process of membrane stripping is resorted to when there is an urgent need to induce labour. So, membrane sweeping is done if your doctor feels that continuing with the pregnancy can be dangerous. This is possible either if one’s pregnancy has crossed 42 weeks or if the pregnancy poses any danger either to the mother or to the baby. The other reasons behind the implementation of the process include:

  • When the mother is undergoing some medical complication such as pre-eclampsia, symphysis pubic dysfunction or gestational diabetes
  • When the mother is pregnant with more than one gestations
  • There has been a rupture of the membrane or the placenta is lying too low
  • When the weight of foetus is too low compared to the standard weight
  • When the baby’s head is not engaged

How is membrane stripping done?

In this process, a doctor or a midwife basically stretches the cervix of the expecting mother, inserts his or her finger to it to separate the amniotic membrane or amniotic sac from the wall of the uterus near the cervix. This act of separating the amniotic labour facilitates the release of prostaglandins, which in turn induces the labour and child birth. Often massaging the cervix gently can help in softening the tissues in the area so that the sweeping action can be performed conveniently and easily.

What are the pros and cons of using this method to induce labour?

The advantages of inducing labour by membrane stripping include the following:

  • Natural method: This is a natural method to induce labour which does not have to depend on any kind of prior preparation or medication. As a result, it is relatively free from any side effect or complication
  • Saves an emergency situation: This method is very effective during an emergency situation when there is no other option left but to induce labour as soon as possible. This is the method which comes useful and handy in those situations.
  • Less complicated method: Use of membrane stripping for delivery saves the mother from other aggressive methods or interventions for delivery such as by using forceps, vacuum delivery of surgical delivery.
  • Induces labour: This method promotes the onset of labour immediately and spontaneously without much effort or complication
  • Does not require a hospital setting: This process can be resorted to even when the mother has gone for a regular pregnancy check-up. There is no requirement of a special hospital or nursing home setting to undergo this process. Hence, much preparation is not needed.

Read More: 21 Foods That Induce Labour


The cons of inducing labour with the help of membrane sweeping include the following:

  • Painful process: The process involving inserting one’s finger through the cervix of the expecting mother in order to induce labour. So, obviously it can be quite painful. During the advanced stage, the cervix is often bent towards the tailbone which makes it all the more difficult to reach.
  • Uncomfortable process: The process of membrane stripping is not performed under the effect of anesthesia. So, in most cases, this can be an extremely uncomfortable process for the mother.
  • Risk of rupturing the amniotic sac: This process involves a great risk as the person doing it has to rely entirely upon his/her assumptions. So, while separating the amniotic membranes, there remains a high risk of the amniotic sac getting ruptured which is very dangerous and painful.
  • Might be unsuccessful in the first attempt: The process of stripping membrane may not be able to induce labour at the very first attempt. In such cases, the process has to be repeated for inducing labour successfully.
  • Effects: Post the process, there might be certain symptoms observed in the mother such as infections, vaginal bleeding, spotting or irregular contractions. Those have to be taken care of in such cases.

What are the other ways of inducing labor naturally?

There are several natural and everyday methods which are said to induce labor naturally without any complications. Some of these methods include:

  • Exercising regularly: Exercising regularly under the guidance of a trained practitioner often decreases the risks and complications associated with pregnancy. It helps one keep healthy and fit and helps inducing labour naturally.
  • Sexual intercourse: Sexual intercourse facilitates the release of the oxytocin hormone which can start the uterine contractions. So, as long as the water hasn’t broken, it is completely safe to have sex unless one feels uncomfortable.
  • Acupuncture: This too helps in releasing oxytocin hormone which in turn stimulates uterine contractions to help in childbirth.
  • Nipple stimulation: Stimulating the nipples can also cause uterine contractions and initiate labour. This process can either be done manually or by using a breast pump.
  • Acupressure: This process is also effective in reducing labour but this has to be performed under the strict guidance or training of a professional to avoid complications.

So, before trying to induce labour on your own, you should always consult a doctor as inducing labour pre-maturely is recommended only when there is an emergency and there is no other option left. Otherwise, it is always better to have a full-term pregnancy, both for the mother as well as for the baby!

Read More: 21 Effective Ways to Induce Labor at Home