A few days delay in delivery is no concern but if your delivery goes past two weeks your chances of a stillbirth increases. To avert the possibility doctors perform membrane sweep on an expectant mother to induce labor.
What is membrane sweep?
A membrane sweep is a process of inducing labor after birth becomes overdue. It is the first step that a doctor or midwife tries before considering other methods of induction.
How are doctors carry a membrane sweep?
Your doctor will carry out an internal examination by inserting his finger into the opening of your cervix (the neck of your womb). After the insertion, he will move her finger around your cervix gently but firmly. The movement separates the membranes of the amniotic sac; these membranes surround your baby in the cervix. The separation causes the release of prostaglandins (hormones) that induces labor.
A membrane sweep may also involve stretching and massaging of the cervix when the sweep fails to work. For that reason, it can also be called stretch and sweep, and the stimulation is enough to stimulate the ripening of your cervix. If your cervix opens after the stretching and massaging, your doctor will easily conduct a sweep on your next check.
Is membrane sweep necessary?
The efficiency of a membrane sweep depends on the delivery person and the mother. If your doctor performs it correctly, it will increase the chances of labor starting within 48 hours. The process works better when your cervix is gradually softening and preparing for labor- However, you won’t have to worry as it doesn’t predispose you or your baby to infections. However, if you break your waters earlier without labor then avoid taking membrane sweeps, as they increase your chances of an infection.
A membrane sweep procedure can be painful since the cervix area is hard to reach before the onset of labor. Midwives usually offer a membrane sweep after every 72 hours (3 days). For first-time mothers, they should have a membrane sweep at their 41-week antenatal appointment.
A membrane sweep is the first step in inducing labor. Midwives conduct these sweeps before turning to other methods of induction. An average of 2-3 membrane sweeps is necessary before resorting to other induction methods.
You have the option of declining the membrane sweep offer if you don’t like it. The procedure offers no guarantee for inducing labor but could help in preventing you from having your labor induction more evasive ways