You might be almost ready to have the baby, and you're thinking about a membrane sweep. Our students ask us about them all the time inside our online birth classes.
Should I get a membrane sweep? Is it worth it? Do they work?
Listen to this episode, and I will explain everything you need to know about getting a membrane sweep and how it works.
You can also read this very informative article on the blog, where I break it down and explain the entire process step-by-step!
Remember, you can choose whether you want to try things to get labor going or you want to sit back and wait. Your body knows how to do it. So don't stress yourself out. Deal?
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trish: [00:00:00] My name is Trish Ware and I am obsessed with all things pregnancy and birth,
and helping you to navigate with the practical and the magical seasons of this journey called
motherhood. I'm an all day coffee sip and Mama of seven. I've had the amazing privilege of
delivering mini babies. In my 15 plus year career as a labor and delivery nurse, and as a mama
of seven, I'm here to help you take the guesswork out of childbirth so you can make the choices
that are right for you and your baby.
Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and does not replace your medical
advice. Check out our full disclaimer at the bottom of the show notes.
Good morning. Today we're gonna talk about membrane sweeps. I get a lot of questions
[00:01:00] about membrane sweeps inside of my community on Instagram and in our Facebook
group. So we're gonna talk about sweeping your membranes, cervical sweep, doing a stretch
and sweep, stripping your membranes, all the different ways that says exactly the same thing,
A membrane sweep. So a lot of people get confused about what exactly is a membrane sweep.
So let's go back just a little bit. The beginning of labor, those early stages, pre-labor stages.
Begin because of some hormones and prostaglandins that our body releases prostaglandins
work. By softening your cervix and getting it ripe, this is so important.
Now for first time mamas, this is really important. Your cervix has to get nice and ripe, nice and
soft. And thin out, and I always say this, if you pick up a peach or an [00:02:00] avocado at the
store, like it has to be ripe. It has to be soft and ready to eat, or otherwise it's not so good. So
your cervix has to get nice and soft before it can open and.
Opening is dilating, right? A ment is softening. And for someone like me who's had a lot of
babies, that can happen all at once. So as the baby gets lower into the pelvis and presses onto
the cervix, that. Tells your body to release prostaglandins to release oxytocin. Oxytocin tells your
uterus to contract.
Baby presses down more because of the contractions, and it all is just this beautiful cycle. Of
labor. A lot of times we get into this mindset of what can I do to help this baby come out? Which
is why we have a series of reels on Instagram called Get This Baby Outta Me, because I know
I've been there, I've been there [00:03:00] a lot.
I've had six. Pregnancies that have come to term, and I've been at the end where I'm like, I'm
done. I'm ready for this baby to come out. What can I do to help it a long? So a membrane
sweep is one of those things that. I'm actually a fan of, and if you know me, I'm pretty laid back.
I'm not so much about intervening or medical interventions for myself.
Now, for you guys, I'm all about education so that you can make the best choice for you
because your choice is not gonna be the same as mine, and you're not gonna find any judgment
here. So what is a membrane sweep? A membrane sweep is a procedure ish that your provider
is going to do. Most of the time they do it in the office.
The thing about a membrane suite, before I tell you exactly what it is you have to be dilated a
little because they have to be able to get their finger in there. So for [00:04:00] your provider to
do it, they have to be able to get their finger into the cervix, so they have to do a cervical exam.
And we have a lot of information on cervical exams and how to relax during cervical exams,
best positions, different mindset.
Strategies, breathing techniques, all of that so you can relax. It's a little more painful than your
normal, average cervical exam because of the sweep, if they're able to do it, because there's no
way they can sweep your cervix and your membranes. If they can't get their finger inside. So
what happens is your cervix, and this is so hard to do, like your cervix has to be open.
They're going to put their hands inside their two fingers, their pointer and their middle finger
inside of you, find your cervix, and then they're gonna take their index finger, go inside the
cervix, and they're going to sweep around separating the [00:05:00] membrane of your. Amniotic
sac from the cervix, and this is done by your provider, by a midwife, by your ob, sometimes a
nurse practitioner in the office.
This is never done by a labor and delivery nurse. This is outside of our scope of practice, at
least all the states that I've worked in. So most providers will do them. Not all. Most of them will
not do it before a certain stage of pregnancy, like 38 weeks if you're being induced, or 39 weeks.
Otherwise, just depends.
So you have to talk to your provider. So you would go in for your regular OB appointment.
Sometimes you can specifically schedule an appointment just for an A membrane suite. But
your provider should explain it all. Get your informed consent. They should never do a sweep
without your consent. You should hear all the risks and the benefits.
Now, let me go back just a little bit. Y'all know I, I go [00:06:00] all over the place, but here's
some reasons why some women might need a membrane sweep or want a membrane sweep.
Again, just cuz you're ready to have the baby, like you're done. You've hit 40 weeks, you're done
being pregnant, but you really don't wanna be induced.
You just wanna get things going. Little knock on the door. If you're a Vback mama and you just
want a little extra help because maybe your prof. Particular provider will not induce. Or maybe
you're being induced and you want to increase the success of your medical induction of labor,
maybe your high risk or higher risk of having to be induced.
Does that make sense? You desire to have spontaneous labor, but you just want a little help. Or
maybe you're feeling pressured by family or friends or your provider that you may end up having
an induction and you just wanna do whatever you can. And I say in quotes at home, cuz this is
minimally medical, but obviously it is [00:07:00] if your past, your due date if you're overdue,
which according to standards is.
After 42 weeks gestational age, which even I'm not so comfortable with you going past 42
weeks and you just want it. So that's that. So now back to the regularly scheduled program. You
go in for the suite. Your provider consents you, you've given informed consent. You'll get into
that same position like you do for a cervical exam.
And if you follow me, I teach you to lay back, relax your knees to the bed, put your feet together.
Like you're clapping your feet, wiggle your toes, and practice your relaxation techniques. And
again, your provider's going to use their index finger, they're going to sweep around, and they're
going to separate the membrane of the amniotic sac from the cervix.
And this tells your brain and your body to get things going. Hopefully now, in my opinion and my
[00:08:00] experience, Unless your body is absolutely ready for labor and probably in the
beginning stages of pre early labor or early labor, it's not going to work first go. I usually see that
it takes two or three times, two or three sweeps for it to really get going and I know there's.
Vast, group of you that probably had your membrane sweep, boom, it happened. You know that
if your body's ready, your body's ready. So the next thing that I get asked is, what does it feel
like? Does it hurt? Is it painful? A, it can be, and I want you to also keep in mind, a lot of women
will tell you that a cervical exam is like the worst pain ever.
It's horrible, and I will give you this, sorry if you're a provider listening, but labor nurses do it
better. We are so much more gentle. We do a lot more cervical exams than anyone else on the
universe. And we've honed our skills. We usually are a little more gentle than the [00:09:00]
ryers, at least from what I've been told.
So if I'm wrong. But your provider may not be as gentle as your labor nurse, so keep that in
mind. Plus, when you're in labor, you've got other things going on. So the cervical exam is not
like you're just doing fine. You lay back, have it done, there's nothing else going on. So a lot of
people say a cervical exam is painful, but this is your opportunity if you have one to practice
your relaxation techniques and you're refocusing and your, visualization techniques and
breathing techniques and all the things.
So it can be. A little more painful than a cervical exam because we're getting in there and
messing with things. So you might feel cramping during and after, but you should not feel like
severe pain during it if you feel severe pain, if it's unbearable. Ask your provider to stop. This is
okay. It's a no-go.
Just say no. Don't wanna do it. But I am a fan of it. If you can [00:10:00] tolerate it, and most
people can. So after your membrane sweep, after they perform it, you know you're gonna go
home. And I do suggest that you wear a pad, at least a mini pad, because after every cervical
exam you. We use lubrication. You may have lube coming out and you may also have some
light bleeding, so I would definitely wear a pad.
Hopefully they got things stirred up enough that you have a bloody show or you lose your
mucus plug, which is fantastic. You might also experience some cramping again, some light
pain. It should not be horrible. You probably, and hopefully. We'll have some increased Braxton
Hicks contractions and hopefully the real deal, real contractions.
But again, if you hang out with me enough, I don't want you timing them until they are really
declaring themselves. You're gonna have some discharge and you're gonna have some light
bleeding. [00:11:00] Now, I said light bleeding. You should not have heavy bleeding. You should
not have gushes of fluid because one of the risks of a membrane sweep is the chance.
Of your water breaking. And I actually have had a couple students, their providers have
accidentally broken their water and that's that. So that's one of the reasons why I suggest,
unless you have a medical reason and you're being induced for that medical reason, I wouldn't
mess around with this guy until you're really ready to have the baby and babies ready to come.
Another risk could be infection cuz we're getting up in there. Especially if your water breaks and
if you have any signs of infection or you have more bleeding than you are comfortable with, it
should be light bleeding. It's always okay to contact your provider and let them know that this is
I always say air on the side of. Caution. [00:12:00] So how soon after a membrane sweep will
labor start if it starts? This is a fantastic question and one that I have really no answer for
because it really just is dependent on your body and what was going on when you went into that
appointment and got it done.
So if you don't know what Bishop's score is, we have a great blog and I'll try to remember to link
in the show notes about Bishop's score. Bishop Score lets us know how favorable your cervix is.
Your body is for labor, so obviously if the more favorable you are for labor starting, the more
likelihood one sweep will work and the quicker you're gonna go into labor.
But it's all that magical concoction of labor hormones. Body ready, baby ready? Boom. You are
ready. So I can't really give you an answer. That's my answer for that one. It could kick start
labor within hours. And for others you might have to have several sweeps done. [00:13:00] So I
really don't know, but I am a fan of sweeps because it's a nice, gentle way to knock on the labor
door and get things started.
It's not a waste of time. That's my thought. So keep a good mindset if it doesn't happen right
away. So yeah, that's that. Hope that helped. Probably didn't, but hopefully did. Some of the BIM
benefits that I feel of a membrane sweep is you might avoid having to be medically induced if
that's coming your way.
If you know that's a likelihood, if you have gestational diabetes, that's uncontrolled. If your diet
controlled, I always. Suggest having a dialogue with your provider and asking them if you can
wait for spontaneous labor. Again, for my Vback Mamas, y'all have so many roadblocks. This is
why I created the Vback lab and have my membership where we support you guys.
But I love it because yes, your provider might be helping you get things started, but you get to
go home and wait for labor to begin and. One of the most powerful things you can do to
[00:14:00] decrease further interventions is laboring at home as long as possible, because when
you're at home and you're in your own environment, you are going to experience labor.
Much differently than from the moment you get to triage and you get admitted. It just is different.
And think about this, if you're sick or and not that I'm saying birth is sickness, don't get me
wrong, but just in any experience when you're in your own environment, it's different than when
you're in someone else's environment.
And that's the same with birth, which is why we really are passionate about teaching our mamas
how to create their birth space. No matter where they're giving birth they are the owner of that
birth space. And what makes them feel good? What makes them feel special? What makes
them feel safe so that they can take that with them into their.
Birth space, wherever it's gonna be. So again, [00:15:00] do you need a membrane sweep?
We're gonna end it with this. I wanna remind you that you don't have to get one. It's not
something everyone has to do. So if you're like, eh, I don't know. You don't have to. The truth of
the matter is if you're patient with your body will make it happen.
Your body knows what to do, just like it knew what to do when you first got pregnant, and you
have to give it instructions or tell it how to do it or when to do it, or what to build on what day. It
just built the baby. You don't have to rush it if you don't want to. I think the biggest problem is
that we, as a society, we like to make things happen.
I'm guilty, totally guilty, and we, you get a lot of pressure that like, why is the baby not here? You
haven't had the baby yet. Let me know that the baby's come. You had a million texts. I know we
hear it from our students, our members all the time, and maybe from your providers. I don't let
my patients go past 41 weeks or 40 weeks or studies have shown you should be induced.
39 weeks, so I know you're getting all that pressure. But remember, [00:16:00] knowledge is
power. Use your knowledge. Make the best decision for you. You get to make the decision.
That's your choice. And if you're just not feeling it, girl, you don't have to get a membrane sweep
because your body will take you to the end, bring you the baby.
All on its own. Just be patient. And for those of you like me that like to have a little control in the
game, a membrane sweep is a great thing to try out. All right, you guys, I hope you enjoyed this
episode, breaking Down Membrane Sweeps, and if you have any questions, shoot us an email
or if you're one of our students or members, pop it in the membership.
And as always, I will see you guys again next Friday. Bye for now.
I hope you enjoyed this episode today on Mindset and affirmations, reminding yourself how
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appreciate it. It means so much to us when you do, and I will see you again next Friday
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