Membrane Sweep


Also referred to as stretch and sweep, membrane sweep is a manual procedure carried out by a doctor or a midwife, most often, when the expectant mother is past her due date. Here is some important information about membrane sweep.

Last Updated: Oct 22, 2020 11:29 GMT

Membrane Sweep
Membrane Sweep
How is membrane sweep done?

The procedure is usually carried out during a regular antenatal appointment. A doctor or a midwife will insert a finger through the vagina, into the opening of the cervix and make a firm but gentle circular, sweeping movement with the finger. This would separate the membranes of the amniotic sac which is pressed against the cervix.

How does membrane sweep help labor?

The separation of the amniotic sac membranes from the cervix causes the release of hormones called the prostaglandins, which play an important role in stimulating contractions. Cervix begins to soften and ripen which will further help in the kick-starting of labor. Most likely, within 24 to 48 hours after membrane sweep is done, labor begins.

Who is membrane sweep for?

When pregnancy has reached its full term, that is, 40 weeks, natural labor is expected to begin. However, only 5% of full term pregnancies deliver a baby. A few days past the due date should not be a concern, provided the doctor has examined the health of the mother and the baby through fetal stress test.

But, when there is no sign of labor onset in the late 40th week, membrane sweep will be done as a first step to stimulate labor manually. Membrane sweep can be repeated at 41 weeks before proceeding with other methods of labor induction.

What are the risks involved in membrane sweep?

Membrane sweep is a non-invasive procedure, that is, the amniotic sac is not penetrated. Hence, there are no risks including risks of infection. It may be uncomfortable and painful for some women during the insertion and there may be slight bleeding afterwards, though it is mostly mild.


If water breaks and labor hasn’t started, membrane sweep should not be performed as it increases the chances of infection. 


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