A membrane sweep is a method used by doctors and midwives to bring on labor when a pregnant woman is overdue, according to Baby Center. This encourages labor to begin within 48 hours.
An internal examination is performed, explains Baby Center. The practitioner sweeps a finger around the cervix, separating the amniotic sac containing the baby from the cervix. This is the least invasive way to induce labor and should be the first method undertaken. Prostaglandins (hormones) are released after the sweep, which may help initiate the process of labor. More than one sweep may need to be performed. Alternative solutions are at the discretion of the practitioner.