Labour assistance at your fingertips: Exploring the benefits of membrane sweeping during pregnancy

Preparing for labour is a crucial aspect of the final stage of pregnancy. One method that can help initiate labour is known as membrane sweeping. It's a procedure where the midwife or doctor gently separates the membranes from the cervix using two fingers and making a circular motion. The purpose is to stimulate the production of the hormone prostaglandin, which can soften the cervix and trigger labour.

Jenny Jansson

Read time: 2 m

Verified by Jenny Jansson

Certified midwife

Labour assistance at your fingertips: Exploring the benefits of membrane sweeping during pregnancyPhoto: Preggers

How does membrane sweeping work?

Undergoing a membrane sweep is relatively straightforward. You will receive information about the procedure and have the opportunity to ask questions before it's performed. You'll be asked to lie down on an examination bed and place your feet in supports. The midwife or doctor will wear sterile gloves and gently insert a finger into the vagina to reach the cervix. By making circular movements, the membranes are separated from the cervix.

How might you feel after a membrane sweep?

After a membrane sweep, you might experience some discomfort or mild pain. It's not uncommon to feel tired or have a sense of pressure in the pelvis. Light bleeding or spotting can also occur. Some pregnant individuals might even experience contractions. If you experience severe pain, heavy bleeding, or other concerning symptoms, you should immediately contact your midwife or doctor.

When not to have a membrane sweep

It's important to note that membrane sweeping is not suitable for all pregnant women. There are certain situations where it's not recommended:

  • If the placenta is low-lying and covers parts of or the entire cervix, membrane sweeping can be risky due to potential bleeding and complications.
  • If you have an ongoing infection in the vagina or cervix, as it can spread or worsen the infection.
  • If the fetus is not in the correct position for delivery, such as being in a breech or transverse position.
  • If there are suspicions of fetal abnormalities.
Jenny Jansson

Verified by Jenny Jansson

Certified midwife


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