Difference Between Stripping Membranes & Rupturing Membranes

When I was becoming a doula, learning all the terms for the various practices and procedures in relation to birth, one of the ones I got a bit confused about was stripping vs. rupturing of the membranes.
Looking back, I don't know really why I was so confused about it; it's pretty self-explanatory.
But writing them down helped me to remember them. (Just like it helped me to remember the difference between the stages and phases of labour!)

Perhaps some of you lovely folks out there are unsure just like I was. So in this post I'm going to break it down for you!

Stripping the Membranes

This is when your doctor or midwife separates the amniotic sac from the uterus to release prostaglandins which help to ripen the cervix & possibly start labour.

It's done by your caregiver inserting a clean, gloved finger inside your vagina and doing a sweeping motion. It's offered around 40 or 41 weeks before other induction methods because it's the simplest, least time-consuming & medicine using, to do. 

It should not be done on your own as it is considered a medical intervention (even though no medicine is involved). I talk about it briefly in my post on inducing yourself non-medically

Sometimes your doctor may start to do it at each appointment leading up to your due date. It's always up to you though if you want it done. You have every right to say no. Your consent is important.


Rupturing the Membranes

Using an amnihook

Using an amnihook

This is when your healthcare provider inserts an amnihook (which looks like a crochet hook) into your amniotic sac to break your water & start contractions. This is done only if your cervix is already ripe and dilated. 

This procedure can't be done too early or there is risk of cord prolapse (when the umbilical cord slips down between cervix & baby's head) which is dangerous for baby. 

This should also not be done on your own. Not every woman's water breaks naturally, and some don't ever break at all (this is when babies are born "en caul" meaning in the sac). If your water has not broken on it's own, don't try breaking it.
Either your care provider will, or they'll determine it does not need to be done and your baby could be born still in her sac, which is said to be good luck!

This also should only be done with your consent. You always have a choice. 

Beautiful birth en caul. Photo by  Leilani Rogers

Beautiful birth en caul. Photo by Leilani Rogers

Have any of you had your membranes stripped or ruptured? What were your experiences like? 
Let me know in the comments!


A little video companion in case some of you are more watchers/listeners than readers!


Pregnancy Care Packages now available! Click here!