The mucus sweep, or membrane sweep, is a common and safe method for helping induce labor in pregnant women who are ready to deliver.

If you’re pregnant and approaching 39 weeks, you are nearing the milestone known as full-term. You are, no doubt, looking forward to seeing your baby for the first time. And let’s be honest, you also might feel like you’re going to pop! You should be ready for your doctor or midwife to mention membrane sweeping, or a mucus sweep, to help induce labor. Here are some important things to know about this common procedure. 

What is a Membrane Sweep?

Membrane sweep is a natural and gentle way to trigger labor in a normal pregnancy that has reached full-term. Your doctor puts a gloved finger into your vagina and then into the cervix, making a gentle circular (sweeping) movement with the finger. This separates the amniotic sac from the sides of the uterus near the cervix. This separation causes your body to release hormones (prostaglandins), which may kick-start your labor. Do not attempt this at home. It should only be carried out by a trained medical professional. 

How Effective is a Membrane Sweep?

A membrane sweep increases your chances of going into labor naturally within 48 hours. While membrane sweeping is less effective than induction by medication, it is the most successful natural method of inducing labor. 

Is Membrane Sweeping Safe?

You can rest assured that a membrane sweep holds no danger of infection for your baby, as long as your water hasn’t broken. If your water has broken, a membrane sweep may not be advised, as it increases the risk of infection.

What Does a Membrane Sweep Feel Like?

Because the cervix is often difficult to reach before labor begins, a membrane sweep can be uncomfortable and even painful. Any breathing techniques you have been practicing may come in handy to help you relax during the procedure. You may experience some spotting, cramps or irregular contractions soon afterwards. If you experience any heavy bleeding, you should contact your doctor right away. 

When is a Membrane Sweep Done?

Your doctor or midwife won’t offer this procedure until you’ve reached 38 weeks. As you become more overdue, the risk of childbirth complications increases, so your doctor may want to induce labor. If you’ve passed your due date, a membrane sweep should be offered before other methods of induction. 

No matter where you are in your pregnancy journey, we are here to help. Contact us today!

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