Scraping Membranes to Induce Labor

by Carol Roberts, Childbirth Researcher on June 25, 2011

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Late in your pregnancy, your midwife may suggest that you induce labor. Inducing labor is commonly suggested when you reach the end of your 41st week of pregnancy. While you should not try to induce labor earlier than week 39 (or you risk premature development in your baby), fatality rates for new babies and injury rates for mother and child both can start to rise after 41 weeks, and especially after 42 weeks. If you are this late in your term, it isn’t necessarily a cause for panic, but it should be a cause for concern.

One technique to induce labor which your midwife may suggest if you ask how to induce labor is scraping membranes. A “membrane scrape” is also known as a membrane sweep, or “stretch and sweep.” When the midwife performs a membrane scrape, she presses her finger around the cervix in order to attempt to separate the membranes surrounding your baby (the amniotic sac) from the cervix. This results in prostaglandins being released, which can cause contractions.

Scraping membranes to induce labor is slightly painful for most women and uncomfortable for almost all; many women say that scraping membranes helped them go into labor, but some women say it didn’t work.

If scraping membranes sounds unpleasant to you, you may want to try something else like eating herbs or foods believed to help induce labor, doing some gentle exercises, or visiting an acupressurist or acupuncturist. Reflexology is another technique which has been shown to induce labor.

What foods and herbs should you try to induce labor? Before using any herbs, consult with your doctor. Herbs you can use include black and blue cohosh, red raspberry leaf, ginger root, cumin, and evening primrose oil. Foods you can try are eggplant, spicy foods, balsamic vinegar, and especially pineapple. Pineapple is known to cause Oxytocin to be released in your body, which can cause contractions.

Exercises you may want to attempt include going up stairs two at a time, squatting, bouncing on a birthing ball, or taking light walks. You should talk to a doctor before you choose an exercise routine, and remember, never try to induce labor prior to week 39.

A far more comfortable alternative to scraping membranes to induce labor is acupressure. Acupressure, as well as its cousins, reflexology and acupuncture, is a type of traditional medicine created in China which works with the energy system in your body. By clearing obstructions from your energy system, flow and function are returned. This means if some obstruction in your energy is preventing you from going into labor, it might be removed. If there is no obstruction, then you won’t prematurely go into labor just from receiving acupressure. Acupressure respect’s nature’s timing. It only speeds along delivery if some unnatural energy block is disrupting nature’s timing to begin with.

Scraping membranes is a common tactic for stimulating labor, and it is used successfully on many women. It isn’t your only option though, so if it sounds uncomfortable to you, you can try something else first like acupressure to move things along.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Pamela June 13, 2012 at 7:20 pm

My dr stripped my membranes today. I ve dilated 1 will that make me go into labor?????? If not what will make me go into labor. IM DESPERATE!!!!! PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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