Inducing labor - membrane sweeping and bowel stimulants

It has been researched and it has been shown to be safe. My name is Greta Gill

I'm a Certified Nurse Midwife.

Another way that you can get labor going is to

have your midwife or doctor do something called sweeping the membranes or

stripping the membranes this is done at one of your prenatal appointments. I

usually do not recommend that you do this before 38 weeks of pregnancy. The

risk of having your membranes swept is that your water bag could break

prematurely and the second thing is it's not very comfortable but if you are 40

weeks or more or you really have other reasons to get labor going, sweeping the

membranes can be a very effective way to help the cervix get ready and also to

start contractions. So what we do is in a pelvic exam during your prenatal visit

check the cervix as far as seeing if it's soft, the position, whether it's

anterior or further back behind the baby's head. We feel how shortened it is

and we feel how opened it is and if it's relatively short fifty percent effaced

or more and relatively open at least one centimeter doing a membrane sweep will

cause you to loose a mucus plug you might even have some spotting and it

will almost immediately cause you to have frequent cramping and contractions

that if you are on the edge of going into labor could get your labor going. It

has been researched and it has been shown to be safe. Again the risk is doing

the procedure could prematurely break the bag of water and then yes, you're

definitely committed to having your baby but if you do it at your visits at least

one or two weeks in a row it's been shown by research to shorten the length

of pregnancy. Many women are aware that using bowel stimulants can put you into

labor and I have noticed as a midwife that this is a very effective way to

stimulate contractions and get things going so I never advise that you do any

of the following before 39 weeks of pregnancy. I also recommend that before

doing something to stimulate the bowels that you know if your cervix is ready

for it because if your cervix is checked during a prenatal exam and it's pretty

closed then doing the bowel preparation will not put you into labor but it will

make you pretty miserable. The first thing you can do is to do a simple enema.

You can buy these over-the-counter fleets or soap suds enemas. What you're

doing when you're emptying the bowels is feeling the relief of that but also it

can stimulate some contractions and if you are very close to going into labor

those contractions can continue and proceed into the birthing of your baby.

So those are some things that you can try to help your body be more ready for

labor or even get labor going but I also want to say that I am a midwife and I

have seen time and time again that the best medicine in most cases is patience

Your body knows how to grow the baby and your body knows how to give birth to the

baby. So with a little bit of patience and time your body will do what it's

designed to do.