membrane sweeping

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  • membrane sweeping involves the midwife or doctor placing a finger just inside the cervix and making a circular, sweeping movement to separate the membranes from the cervix. Membrane sweeping increases the chances of labour starting naturally within 48 hours and can therefore reduce the need for other methods of induction of labour (1)
  • if the cervix will not admit a finger, massaging around the cervix in the vaginal fornices may achieve a similar effect (2)
  • membrane sweeping (2)
    • at antenatal visits after 39+0 weeks, discuss with women if they would like a vaginal examination for membrane sweeping, and if so obtain verbal consent from them before carrying out the membrane sweep
    • discuss with women whether they would like to have additional membrane sweeping if labour does not start spontaneously following the first sweep


Last edited 11/2021 and last reviewed 11/2021