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Difference Between Breaking Your Water & Stripping Membranes

Anne Sommers, Licensed Midwife


What is the difference between "breaking your water" and "stripping the membranes" as a measure to speed labor along?

"Breaking your water" is a process whereby an instrument, called an amniohook, plastic or metal, is inserted in the vagina. An amnihook looks like a plastic crochet hook. The practitioner (midwife, doctor, nurse) passes it through the vagina and cervix and then grabs a piece of the ballonlike amniotic sac, snags and breaks it. Water leaks out. It is usually done to augment labor, but can be done to induce labor. It is also performed so that an internal fetal monitor can be applied to the baby's head.

"Stripping the membranes" is another procedure in which the bag surrounding the amniotic fluid is separated by the practitioner's fingers from the uterus. This irritates the uterus, causing contractions. It is less invasive than breaking the amniotic sac.

Anne Sommers, LM is a Licensed Midwife in Southern California and founder of Agape Perinatal Consultation & Birthing Services.

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Guest Dec 10, 2014 05:14:10 PM ET

I had my membranes stripped today and really didn't feel much.

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Lisa Sep 28, 2014 05:12:30 PM ET

That's not true because they strip my membrane and I didn't get any infections.

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Mrs B Nov 21, 2011 07:03:04 PM ET

DO NOT have your membranes stripped! It is extremely painful, not a natural procedure and causes infection. It is NOT the same as having your water broken. It also is not a guarantee that you will start label.

Tiffany Jul 22, 2017 09:42:08 PM ET

It's not painful for everyone. most of the time it's only painful if your cervix isn't positioned right or if you aren't dilated at all. it is the most natural way to induce labor without medication. therefore, it is natural. it isn't the same as having your water broken but, it helps to get things going in a natural way. it doesn't always work but, the success rate of having a membrane sweep is very high. every woman and every pregnancy is different, so it may not work for you but, in most cases it does work and the success rate is very high.

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