A membrane sweep is a vaginal examination, which is offered to all women once they reach 41 weeks, to help encourage labour to start naturally. The midwife will insert a finger into your vagina and reach for the cervix. Once she has reached the cervix she will do a circular ‘sweeping’ motion around the cervix to help separate the sac from the cervix. This can release hormones in the body that will help your body to go into labour. This will normally work within 24hrs and there’s around a 50% chance of labour happening naturally. It is possible to have more than one membrane sweep, so please discuss this with your midwife.
Membrane sweeps can be uncomfortable, and you may have a small amount of bleeding afterwards.
In the UK around 20% of labours are induced, mainly due to women who have gone past their due date. Induction of labour is the process of starting labour artificially. If your baby has not made an appearance by 41 weeks and 3-6 days, you will be advised to have an induction. This is recommended by the obstetricians, but you may do some research and feel that you would prefer to wait a few more days to allow your body to go into labour. You can discuss the risks and benefits with your midwife, so that they can organise a plan of care for you. You may also need an induction earlier if recommended by the obstetricians for various medical reasons.
Inductions will take place in your local hospital: Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester, or St. Mary’s Maternity Unit in Poole. Select the location below to find out more about the induction process.