How Effective Is Membrane Stripping for Inducing Labor? A Nurse’s Take

How Effective Is Membrane Stripping For Inducing Labor?

A Nurse’s Take

A nurse with over 20 years experience in obstetrics and gynecology has written an interesting article about striping membranes for inducing labor. She writes: “I’ve been doing this job since I was 18 and have seen many things happen during my time here.” Her experiences include several cases where stripping membranes failed to induce labor.

So what does she think is going on?

Here are her thoughts:

“The most common reason why stripping membranes fail to induce labor is because the woman isn’t actually pregnant. If you strip a woman’s fallopian tubes, it doesn’t affect her pregnancy status. You might get some false positives (the cervix may move) but they’re rare and usually go away within 24 hours.

Also, if you strip the uterus or ovaries, those organs don’t produce hormones that cause a miscarriage. Finally, if you strip the placenta, it doesn’t make any hormones that cause a miscarriage either. That means there’s no way to tell whether your procedure will work or not unless you actually see the baby come out of the mother’s body. So even though stripping membranes might seem like a good idea in theory, it probably won’t do anything except waste money and hurt someone. There’s a reason why women get an ultrasound before doctors try this procedure. And if you’re looking for something to make money, it’s not stripping membranes. The procedure costs around five hundred dollars and the drugs used during labor cost around two hundred more. If you’re that hard up for money, you’re better off doing something else.”

So what did this medical professional do to help her patients?

Here are her suggestions:

“My favorite way to induce is a process called “Gloving”. This involves lubricating your hand and putting it into the mother’s birth canal. The mother feels some pressure and it makes it easier for her to push.

In some cases, this is all that’s needed to start the birth process going. The first time I tried gloving was quite a surprise but it definitely did the trick.

The second way I usually try is through the nose. Mothers have smaller nostrils than most people realize and by gently pinching them shut, it makes the baby have to come out. Sometimes, mothers don’t even feel this procedure and it’s a great way to get contractions started.

I only do this if the patient is in active labor or if gloving doesn’t work.

A more risky procedure is rectal stimulation. This involves putting a lubricated finger in the patient’s rectum and moving it around to stretch the lining. The best results are with women who have had kids before as their rectums are bigger.

The reason this works is because the lining of the rectum and the lining of the uterus are similar in that they’re both very stretchy. When you do this to a mother, it gets contractions started immediately. The problem with this procedure is you can tear the lining of the rectum and have to perform an emergency colostomy. This procedure is very rarely needed and only done in extreme emergencies so you don’t have to worry about me doing this to you. But I wanted to tell you about it before we do the gloving procedure so you are mentally prepared for it.

So those are your options. I’m going to leave it up to you as to which one you want to do. Whatever you decide, please don’t ask for an epidural.

I can’t give you that here, the hospital is too far away and it would take too long to get it. Anyway, I’ll leave you to think it over and come back in a few minutes.

A few minutes later…

So which do you want to try, stripping membranes or gloving?

“Stripping membranes”

Even though it doesn’t always work, stripping the membranes is the safest and easiest to do. All you have to do is put some lubricant on your hand and put your entire hand into her birth canal. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all the way up to your wrist, just a half of a forearm should be enough.

Once you do that, move your hand around a bit. It might feel quite good for you, but that’s not the purpose. By moving your hand around, you’re rubbing your uterus and that should get things going.


If you or your partner have had a previous C-section, then gloving will probably work. Since you’ve already given birth before, your rectum is bigger and your contractions could be strong enough to tear the lining of it. The best way to do this is to put on a latex glove and lubricate it.

Then, I put my whole hand up to your wrist. The tightness around your rectum should make you immediately feel a contraction. As soon as you feel the tightness, start pushing. With any luck, the baby will come out quickly.

Sources & references used in this article:

Management of pregnancies beyond forty-one weeks’ gestation with an unfavorable cervix by EF Magann, SP Chauhan, BG Nevils… – American journal of …, 1998 – Elsevier

Effective physician-nurse communication: a patient safety essential for labor and delivery by A Lyndon, MG Zlatnik, RM Wachter – American journal of obstetrics and …, 2011 – Elsevier

Parturitional factors associated with membrane stripping by SW McColgin, WA Bennett, H Roach, BD Cowan… – American journal of …, 1993 – Elsevier

Nonpharmacologic approaches to cervical priming and labor induction by CD Adair – Clinical obstetrics and gynecology, 2000 –

Methods of cervical ripening and labor induction by L Summers – Journal of Nurse-Midwifery, 1997 – Elsevier

The thinking woman’s guide to a better birth by H Goer – 1999 –

Membrane sweeping at term to promote spontaneous labour and reduce the likelihood of a formal induction of labour for postmaturity: a systematic review and meta … by H Avdiyovski, M Haith-Cooper… – Journal of Obstetrics and …, 2019 – Taylor & Francis