Sweeping the Membranes

Sweeping the membranes is a safe way of increasing your chance of going into labour yourself and reducing the risk of your labour requiring to be induced. You do not have to have the procedure done, it is your choice.

How does it happen?

Sweeping the membranes increases the level of naturally occurring hormones, called prostaglandins, around the cervix (neck of the womb). These hormones cause your cervix to soften and dilate.

How is sweeping the membranes performed?

Membrane sweeping is carried out during a vaginal examination and involves placing a finger inside your cervix and making a circular sweeping movement to separate the membranes from the cervix.

When can it be performed?

Sweeping the membranes can be performed in the week your baby is due or earlier if a first pregnancy.

Who does it?

Your doctor can carry out sweeping of the membranes during your routine antenatal clinic appointment. He will discuss the procedure with you prior to your EDD.

Is it painful?

Some women can experience some discomfort, however the majority of women do not find it painful.

Is it dangerous?

Sweeping of the membranes is not associated with any increased risk to either you or your baby. However there are some situations when the procedure can not be carried out, for example:

  • Your baby’s head is too high
  • The cervix is closed or to high up
  • The afterbirth is lying low

What will happen after my membranes have been swept?

Most women will experience some irregular contractions, may experience some slight vaginal bleeding, or notice the presence of some show (plug of mucous passed vaginally). This is quite normal and not necessarily a sign the labour has started.

You should however contact the Hospital if you are having any signs of labour e.g.

  • If contractions become regular and are increasing in frequency
  • If you have any fluid draining vaginally (ruptured membranes)

St. Luke’s Hospital 056 - 7785000