Strip my membranes? What does that mean?!

I was like, strip my what?!?! My membranes?! I didn’t even know I had membranes to strip…

Northeast doulas is ready to tackle this curious phenomenon.

After reading this, if you become the next contestant on “My Doctor Wants to Strip My Membranes” you will know what it means, how it happens and what the benefits and risks associated are!

The goal of stripping the membranes is to separate the membranes of the amniotic sac from the uterine wall.

Doing so can trigger the release of prostaglandins that can aid in the softening or ripening of the cervix.

In order to perform the stripping or “sweeping of the membranes, a vaginal exam is performed. One gloved finger is slipped into the opening of the cervix and a sweeping motion separates the membrane.

This procedure is often more uncomfortable and a bit more assertive than a normal cervical exam.

Some providers do a membrane sweep as part of routine cervical exam around 38 weeks. If you want information about it or are curious if your provider does this routinely, ask the question, “Are you going to strip my membranes?” before they insert their fingers into your vagina. If you are not interested in this procedure, have the conversation before the exam.

What are the benefits of stripping my membranes?

The intention of a membrane sweep between 38 and 40 weeks gestation is to:

  • Increase the likelihood of spontaneous vaginal delivery
  • Reduce the likelihood of medication based methods of induction
  • Reduce the likelihood of the pregnancy continuing beyond 41 weeks

What can I expect after having my membranes stripped?

Once the procedure has been done, it is not uncommon to experience the following:

  • Light vaginal bleeding
  • Irregular contractions or overall crampiness

This procedure is relatively safe during low-risk pregnancies.

The following factors may make stripping membranes less suitable:

  • Previous cesarean section
  • Previous uterine rupture
  • Fetal abnormalities
  • Multiple births
  • Infection
  • Other medical conditions affecting the mother or baby

As with any pregnancy intervention, knowledge is power.

Ask the questions, work with a provider you trust, and make the decisions that feel best for you!

Northeast Doulas is proud to contribute to peaceful pregnancy and empowering deliveries!


Authored By: Randy Patterson