If you have never heard of stripping membranes as a means to move the onset of labor along then let me be the one to tell you that although it isn’t too pleasant, it certainly isn’t as gruesome as it sounds. My doctor stripped my membranes a few times during both my pregnancies, and although I didn’t enjoy the process I was willing to do whatever it took to get labor started so I probably would have agreed to just about anything.
From what I understand, stripping the membranes involved scraping a little bit of the mucus membranes off the cervix. I could be wrong because I’m certainly not a doctor, but I can tell you what it feels like with some degree of authority. It’s almost like a gynecological exam that goes too far…imagine your doctor getting a little too zealous in the exam and playing some sort of game to see how far she can reach, and then scraping when she gets to the furthest point. Okay, now you know what stripping the membranes feels like.
I bled a little after each time my membranes were stripped, and I don’t know if it really made any sort of difference in when my labor started. It wasn’t so incredibly painful that I would advise expectant moms against it though, because the pain isn’t too intense and it doesn’t last too long. I did feel a little crampy afterwards, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.
From what I hear, doctors are divided as to whether stripping the membranes is actually effective or not. For that reason, you may not even have the procedure offered to you. If your doctor does suggest it then get ready for an uncomfortable minute or two, but it isn’t really something you should fret over excessively.