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What is Membrane Stripping & How Safe and Effective is It?

What is Membrane Stripping?

Membrane stripping is a procedure of inducing labor in people who are in their full term with a fully or somewhat dilated cervix. It is also known as membrane sweeping.

During the Membrane stripping procedure, the doctor inserts two fingers through the cervix to manually separate the amniotic sac from the uterine lining. It is a painful procedure but the discomfort lasts for only a few minutes.

What is Membrane Stripping?

Why is Membrane Stripping Suggested?

Membrane stripping is suggested for those who are near or have passed their due date.

If a pregnancy goes longer than 41 to 42 weeks, the female and her child are put at a greater risk of problems. These include:

  • The placenta becoming less efficient in delivering nutrients and oxygen to the baby
  • Increase in the chances of stillbirth
  • A serious problem for the newborn

How Safe is Membrane Stripping?

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Gynecology and Obstetrics, there is no risk or negative effects in women on whom membrane stripping is done.(1)

The females who undergo membrane stripping have the procedure done on them just once. There are no chances that they may have a cesarean section or any other complications.

How Effective is Membrane Stripping?

The effectiveness of membrane stripping depends on how far the pregnancy has reached and has a female used any induction method or not.(2) However, it is more effective if the induction methods are not used.

The membrane stripping can be effective for females who have passed their due date as it may increase the likelihood of them delivering within 48 hours.(3)

Membrane stripping may not be as effective as other induction methods but is generally used in situations that do not demand medications for induction of labor. Advice from a nurse educator is important and the procedure should be done by an experienced doctor. There may be discomfort, bleeding, and cramping after the procedure. If the procedure works positively, it may prevent medication induction for starting labor.

A study performed on 800 females found the membrane stripping procedure to be more effective that other induction methods in the following ways:(4)

  • It reduces the time between the induction and labor
  • It helps in increasing the rate of delivery in females
  • It lowers the need for oxytocin, a drug used to induce labor

Who Should Avoid Membrane Stripping?

Membrane stripping is not recommended for those females in whom vaginal delivery is not safe.(5) These are the females with:

  • Prior cesarean section
  • History of preterm delivery
  • Multiple births
  • Active herpes infection
  • Current bacterial cervical infection
  • Placenta Previa
  • Severe fetal abnormalities
  • Abnormal fetal positions
  • Vasa Previa
  • Prior uterine rupture
  • Pelvic structure abnormalities
  • Mullerian duct abnormalities

What to Expect After Membrane Stripping?

Membrane stripping can be an uncomfortable procedure and the female may be too sore after it. There may be light bleeding during and after the procedure that may be considered completely normal. Those experiencing excessive bleeding should contact their doctor immediately.

Membrane stripping is a non-surgical intervention for inducing labor, which is performed during the final few weeks of pregnancy between 38-41 weeks. It is a safe procedure and can be helpful in increasing the likelihood of spontaneous labor.

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 25, 2022

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