The Pregnancy Sweep /Stretch

The third trimester is both an exciting and anxious time for expectant mothers. Thoughts of finally meeting their baby make them glow. A source for concern and anxiety, however, arises when you go way past your due date (see our due date calculator) and you have to wait much longer to see your baby. 

Even with no other complications, your doctor may recommend induction of labor. The first option that your doctor might explore in the induction of labor is usually the membrane sweep.

How a Pregnancy Sweep is Carried Out

Your doctor will ask you to:

  • Empty your bladder completely then lie on the labor table
  • The table will be tilted towards the left side to avoid supine hypertension
  • The doctor then inserts a finger into the vagina to feel around for the position of the baby and checks whether the cervix is favorable for carrying out the procedure.
  • Then your doctor will make a gentle but firm circular sweep to separate the membranes that link the amniotic sac to the uterine wall and cervix releasing a hormone called prostaglandins to induce labor.

Why a Membrane Sweep/Stretch

A membrane sweep is done to avoid the chances of medical induction.  

In some instances, a membrane sweep may not be the best option if

  • The cervix is unfavorable or uneffaced
  • The cervix doesn’t open
  • The procedure is extremely painful or uncomfortable for the mother.
  • The waters have already ruptured.
  • There is vaginal infection
  • Low lying placenta
  • The baby’s head is not engaged
  • Mother is Rh negative
  • You are carrying multiple babies

After the procedure is done, you may experience the following:

  • Spotting
  • Painful contractions

If labor doesn’t start with 24hrs-48hrs you can get another sweep done.

Risks Involved

Risks associated with this procedure often include:

  • The sweep may not start labor the first time
  • Extremely painful or uncomfortable
  • Risk of rupturing amniotic sac
  • Vaginal bleeding and irregular contractions post procedure
  • May lead to other ways of induction of labor

Benefits of a membrane sweep include:

  • Promotes onset of labor devoid of drugs
  • Generally safe
  • Requires no hospital admission

How Effective is a Membrane Sweep in Inducing Labor

This procedure doesn’t have a very good success rate with just over 24% of women going into labor in the first 48 hrs. Most women who have had a membrane sweep deliver their babies within a week after the procedure.


Please note that development differs from one child to another.  

Content intended for educational purposes only, and not a substitute for medical advice from your doctor.

Be careful when using any products mentioned on this website. We hold no regulations for such products or their providers.

Last reviewed March 2019 

Sources: babycentre, tommys, todaysparent, momjunction

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