Photo courtesy of Maureen Shaw

I Had My Membranes Stripped To Induce Labor, & Within 30 Minutes My Contractions Were Breathtaking

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If I were a betting woman, I’d wager that most every pregnant woman nearing or past her due date has begged a doctor to “get this baby out of me” (GTBOOM). I was absolutely one of them, especially with my last pregnancy. My enthusiasm on GTBOOM was great enough that I had my membranes stripped to induce labor, and for those of you anxiously awaiting the stork, I have good news on that natural induction technique.

With my first-born, I was very blessed to have an easy pregnancy; it wasn’t until the very end of my third trimester that I started to feel uncomfortable. Frankly, I was content with remaining pregnant until she was ready to come out. No begging necessary.

Not so with my son. From the moment of conception, it was a bumpy ride: severe nausea, UTIs, Group B Strep, false labor, and sciatica so bad I had to rely on a cane to walk. By my ninth month, I couldn’t take being pregnant one moment longer. My doctor estimated that my baby was 9 pounds (she was close! He clocked in at 8 pounds, 14 ounces) and carrying that load was miserable. My hips and knees ached, my lower back was in constant pain and I peed every three minutes.

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At my 40+ week appointment two days later, I pleaded with my doctor to 'get this f*cking baby out of me.'

I was certain I’d deliver before my due date. It was my second pregnancy and I had been contracting on and off for weeks. I had no doubt I was already dilated. And when I lost my mucus plug at 39 weeks, I put my hospital bag by the front door. I was ready. I was desperately ready.

The day before my due date, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I’d read about certain physical activities rumored to help induce labor and tried them all. I did squats. I had sex. I got on my hands and knees and scrubbed the kitchen floor. I took a long walk.

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At my 40+ week appointment two days later, I pleaded with my doctor to “get this f*cking baby out of me.” She looked at me knowingly (she was pregnant as well) and said we could schedule an induction if labor didn’t commence within the next few days.

It was a nice gesture, but it wasn’t good enough. I grunted and asked her to check my cervix.

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I was already 4 centimeters dilated and my baby’s big ol’ head was very low.

“Can you strip my membranes,” I asked.

She looked surprised. “You’re already 4 centimeters, are you sure?”

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“Hell. Yes.”

So strip my membranes she did. It was uncomfortable, but it paled in comparison to the 24/7 discomfort I was experiencing. And it was over in four seconds.

Within 30 minutes my contractions were two-to-three minutes apart and were literally breathtaking.
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On the car ride home, I started contracting. Not too intensely or with regularity, so I didn’t think much of it. I was jaded at that point.

I shouldn’t have been so skeptical. Within 30 minutes my contractions were two-to-three minutes apart and were literally breathtaking. I had skipped the manageable buildup of early labor and was in the thick of active labor. It was so intense that on the way to the hospital — a 10-minute drive — I was afraid I was going to deliver in the car.

Luckily, that fear went unfounded. But as my contractions grew even closer together (by the time we got to the hospital, they were 60-90 seconds apart), I became terrified there wouldn’t be time for an epidural.

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As it turned out, that was also a near miss. I was able to get my epidural, but because my labor progressed so quickly, it didn’t fully kick in. It took the edge off for roughly 20 minutes, but that’s it. And as luck would have it, it was time to push 30 minutes after getting the epidural.

I felt everything. The burning, the tearing, and pressure so powerful I literally thought my ass was going to explode. Labor moved so fast, but I managed to find the time to genuinely wonder if this is what death feels like. (Seriously).

Of course, the second my son was placed in my arms, I no longer cared about the pain. He was perfect and healthy and that’s truly all that mattered.

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In hindsight, I can’t help but wonder if my labor would have been as fast as it was if I hadn’t demanded my doctor strip my membranes. Of course, there are other factors to consider—it wasn’t my first delivery and I was already dilated past early labor—but I have no doubt it played a major role.

So if you’re wondering whether or not to strip your membranes, take caution! It might do exactly what you want it to.

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.

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