Membrane sweep at 40 weeks

(15 Posts)
sassylassie Thu 12-Jan-12 18:41:15

My midwife's booked me in for a membrane sweep next Monday at 40 weeks (well 39+6 as she doesn't work on Tuesdays...), as apparently the new policy of our hospital to sweep all pregnant women at term (rather than term+10 as it was previously). Anyone else experienced this? I asked why they do this so early and she said it was shown statistically to reduce the chance of artificial induction (they get a 2nd chance to do another sweep at term+10 if the 1st one doesn't work) and also encourages a natural labour. But tbh having read loads of stuff online and various threads on MN about people's experiences I'm REALLY unsure about it. On the one hand I've been struggling for the last week or so - not sleeping, terrible backache, chronic heartburn, really bad night sweating and constant trips to the loo, so I'd love it if it all went well and it brought on labour, but on the other hand, I'd rather go into labour naturally, and I'm worried about it being really painful and just leading to false labour pains and bleeding etc.

There seems to be a lot of conflicting information out there. Does anyone know for sure:
- Stats for effectiveness of membrane sweeps at 40 weeks? (Want to make a decision about whether it would be better to delay it.)
- Whether midwife will attempt a sweep even if cervix is not dilated, and is this useful in getting things moving? Seen lots of posts saying sweep will only work if baby was pretty much ready to come anyway, but not sure where this info is coming from and seems pretty pointless for hospital to do this procedure if that was really the case (definitely seems to contradict what MW said).
- Anything else that will help me make up my mind! The rest of my NCT class are really envious (as they're only being offered sweeps at term+10 if at all), and it seems a bit mad to turn it down, but something doesn't feel right.

BillyBollyBandy Thu 12-Jan-12 20:31:06

A sweep is only possible if the midwife can get into to cervix to seperate the membranes, so from that point of view you would have to be ready. If the cervix is too far back, solid or closed a sweep would not be possible.

I had one at 40+1 also and baby arrived next day. Midwife said that my cervix was only very slightly open and that have meant it hadn't closed properly after dd1. She got half a fingertip in (sorry for tmi) but cervix was not central.

I went in on the night time and cervix was now central. DD arrived 36 hours after sweep.

It didn't hurt me and didn't cause any false labour pains even though I had been having them for a couple of weeks on and off anyway.

You could go for the appointment and ask the midwife to examine you forst? You may not be able to have one, she may think you are a while off, or she may think it is going to happen soon anyway.

Please bear in mind I was asking for a sweep at 38 weeks though to be met with a sympathetic but firm no smile so clearly I am in favour of them!

Abirdinthehand Thu 12-Jan-12 20:38:07

I had a sweep at 40+5 and baby arrived within 12 hours. But I had been having on/off pains for over a week, and was very 'ready'. I was 4cm already when she did the sweep! It was mildly uncomfortable rather than painful, and did not cause bleeding.

CrotchFlakes Thu 12-Jan-12 20:38:40
mumatron Thu 12-Jan-12 20:43:42

I only had sweeps with dc3. First at 40+7 and then again at 40+12. Cervix was favourable both times and I was in active labour about 6-7 hours after the 2nd sweep.

If you don't feel ready then absolutely do not have the sweep.

How confident are you with your edd?

flowerflo Thu 12-Jan-12 21:35:18

I went for a sweep today (am 40+7). She examined me and explained that whilst my cervix was soft, central and starting to dilate, she couldn't do the sweep properly as my cervix was still closed at the far end. Am really glad I had it though, as felt reassured that my body is starting to do what it's meant to (no labour signs at all so far!). It wasn't painful in the slightest, a bit uncomfortable maybe, but I thought it was fine (and I can't cope with any pain!).

sassylassie Thu 12-Jan-12 21:36:31

Thanks folks. mumatron - I'm not that confident about my EDD. Was originally 23rd Jan and then they brought it forward to 17th based on size of baby at 12-week scan, but tbh that doesn't really add up. Then again the whole 40 weeks thing is just an approximation - all babies are different and some countries use other lengths of time based on different studies.

CrotchFlakes notice you said in that other thread there's a risk of infection and waters breaking, which is obviously a worry. These aren't things mentioned in the info leaflet I got from my midwife. Where did you get that info from do you mind me asking? I was told there was no risk apart from possible false labour pains and bleeding (bad enough I know!).

BillyBollyBandy Thanks, having the internal exam and then deciding on that basis (how dilated if at all I am) is a good idea and I think I'd pretty much decided that's what I was going to do. In my case it's DC1 and I've had no labour pains so far, so have the feeling my cervix and the LO are just not ready really, although that could change in a few days...

sassylassie Thu 12-Jan-12 21:41:30

Thanks flowerflo - that's quite reassuring. Does that mean if she couldn't do the sweep properly you're not expecting much to happen in the next 24 hours or so? Good to know where you are though isn't it? I think I want the internal exam for that alone... Hope my midwife is as sensitive as yours.

Good luck - hope he/she makes an appearance soon! smile

Abirdinthehand Thu 12-Jan-12 21:51:52

Interesting reading that other thread.
It makes me realise I was a prime candidate for a sweep. I was 40+5, and having on-off labour pains for a week before hand. Baby's head was fully engaged. My cervix was already significantly dilated. So I think I was probably the right person for a sweep - my labour was stop-starting and it made it actually happen. But thinking about it, I'm not sure I'd accept one now if I had no signs of being ready, unless it was a last-chance-before-induction kind of thing.

flowerflo Thu 12-Jan-12 22:34:42

sassylassie I'm not expecting much to happen, but the midwife did say that it was possible that her just 'fiddling' down there today could have caused the hormones to get going a bit more so here's hoping! Am booked in for an induction next week so was keen to try a sweep to trigger things off.

Good luck to you too xxx

sassylassie Thu 12-Jan-12 22:36:25

Abirdinthehand I agree, it definitely sounds like it. My colleague had on off labour pains for a few days at 40+5 too, and she had a sweep at 2cm dilated and it worked for her. In my case, it feels like I'm the opposite of a prime candidate... but if it turns out I'm a few cms dilated when I have the internal exam I might go for it. Arrgh, still so undecided!! It was presented to us by the midwife as just what was done rather than as a choice we could make, which in hindsight I'm not really all that happy about. I saw a different midwife at the hospital yesterday (had to go in for fetal HR monitoring) and asked her about it to get a 2nd opinion, and she was very clear that it was totally my choice and I didn't have to go through with it if I didn't feel it was right.

BillyBollyBandy Thu 12-Jan-12 22:43:32

Just wanted to add regarding an open cervix, you might be fully closed but the baby could still be on its way.

With dd2 I was 4 cms when I got to hospital and had her within 30 minutes, so don't be disheartened if everything is still closed up.I dilated very quickly with both mine.

CrotchFlakes Fri 13-Jan-12 11:45:58

Infection because the MW will be pushing germs from your lower vagina to your cervix. I'm on my phone so difficult to find links but google AIMS, and Association of Radical Midwives, and UK Midwifery in yahoo groups.

BillyBollyBandy Fri 13-Jan-12 17:09:41

But wouldn't that happen during sex anyway? Although trying to find someone who wants sex at 40 weeks must be nigh on impossible. Maybe that's why!

kayjaybabe Fri 13-Jan-12 17:46:11

Crotchflakes is right with the infection part. Alot of ladies and or midwives are reluctant to practice even basic VEs due to infection, they wanted to keep doing VEs on me while i was in labour but kept putting them off till as late as possible as they didnt want to increase the risk. Although sex would most deffently have the highest rate of introducing infections and that is high recommend towards the end, unless they only worry about infections when your actually dialating??

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