When your pregnancy is down to the line and your due date is near or come and gone, your practitioner may ask about stripping membranes to induce labor. Sounds rough. What the heck does that mean?
Stripping Membranes To Induce Labor
In your uterus just above the cervix where your baby’s head is pressing down, there’s a line where the sack is attached to your cervix. This is the often the same point where your water will break. When your water breaks naturally, that membrane between sack and cervix is separated.
Then a chain of reactions starts to further along your labor. But this is usually closer to when you transition at the latter end of your labor.
So the idea is that if your doctor or midwife can separate that membrane just above your cervix, it can induce your labor to begin. That’s why it’s usually offered when a mother is close to or past her due date. It’s thought to spur things along. But that’s often not the case. There are other natural ways to induce labor that you can learn about, but this is an unnatural option.
Related: How To Induce Labor The Right Way
How does it work?
It’s just as uncomfortable as it sounds. Your doctor literally reaches their hand up there, like when they’re checking for your dilation, but then they reach beyond that, up through your cervix. They push against your baby’s sac, moving it out of the way, and running their finger in a circle as best as possible to separate the sack from your cervix.
It’s uncomfortable. And you’re already in enough discomfort as it is. But is it an option you want to consider?
“Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.” — Barbara Johnson
There are pros and cons associated with stripping your membranes and data to back it up. Before you decide that it’s the right thing to do, make sure you understand what you’re agreeing to.
- there’s a chance that it will stimulate the proper hormones and molecules that help to initiate labor
- it can be done by your midwife and doesn’t require hospitalization once your labor starts
- it’s a simple, drug-free procedure
- It may shorten your pregnancy by a few days
- it likely may not do anything to stimulate your labor
- you may start bleeding soon after
- your bag of waters may rupture prematurely, which increases infection risk if you don’t start labor soon
- it can be uncomfortable and even painful
- if you’re group B strep positive there are greater risks for your baby
The problem with stripping your membranes is that studies conflict each other. The odds of it working to stimulate your labor are 50/50. It may work great for someone else, but do absolutely nothing for you.
I have never had my membranes stripped. I don’t know what it feels like. Both of my doctors with my first two babies mentioned it at the end of my pregnancies, but I declined. I didn’t understand the risks and circumstances fully. But I sure thought that it sounded drastic.
Then with my third baby, my midwife mentioned it but quickly conceded that she didn’t recommend it because the benefits didn’t outweigh the chances of any effect. By then I knew more and agreed with her.
So it’s up to you, really. The risks are minimal, but they’re there. But when you prepare the proper way, your body will naturally be in line to initiate labor best on its own.
What do you think about having your membranes stripped?
Favorites In This Post:
Signs of Labor In Childbirth: Natural Ways To Induce Labor, straight forward and to the point about great things you can do