Should You Get Your Membranes Stripped?
The pros and cons of stripping your membranes.
At my 39 week appointment, my OB, an efficient Midwesterner, with a no-nonsense attitude toward pregnancy, put on a glove and checked my cervix. Then, I felt a sharp pain and she removed her hand. “I just stripped your membranes,” she announced. “Statistically this will help you not go overdue.”
I had never heard of membrane stripping. I hadn’t gotten to that part of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Also, after suffering from a small meltdown because I was convinced my pregnancy hormone-induced tumor called a pyrogenic granuloma (common in less than 5% of pregnancies) was cancer, I was taking a break from Dr. Google. So I did what any sane, ridiculously pregnant and hormonal woman would do in that situation. I asked an online forum what they thought of the practice.
Two seconds after hitting “post,” I was in tears. I was convinced that membrane stripping was going to hurt me, my baby and probably the universe. The internet was full of horror stories about intense bleeding, pain and unnecessary medical intervention. And yet, despite the warnings, I had no bleeding or extra pain until my water broke at three the next morning. After, I had my daughter and forgot all about membrane stripping until two years later, when I was pregnant again. And again, my OB snapped on her latex glove and got ready to get down and dirty with my cervix. But this time, I was more informed.
Membrane stripping is when your doctor gently separates the amniotic sac from the uterus in order to initiate labor. Many women object to the practice because it is painful or an unnecessary medical intervention. Spotting and strong abdominal cramps are a common side-effect and the practice is not recommended for women who test positive for Group B strep, and who have placental abnormalities.
On the other hand, studies show that the practice is safe for most women and, like my doctor said, reduces the risk of going over term. So, when my doctor saddled up to check my cervix at 39 weeks, I gave her my blessing to strip my membranes. She did and five days later, I had my son. While I know that membrane stripping is no guarantee of an on-time baby departure from a my uterus. If I have to go through this process again with baby #3, I’ll let my doctor strip away.
What are your thoughts? Are you for or against membrane stripping?
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