They don't always work... In fact the evidence that they do much at all is pretty shaky but you'll get lots of anecdotal evidence that they are amazing and work within hours... That said, its pretty much a given that you're going to go into labour at some point!!
They can be really painful... I had one failed one with dc1 that was extremely unpleasent and I refused to have one with dc2.
I think the pain level depends on how favourable your cervix is. I had one with DD and it was no worse than a smear. Labour kicked off two hours later. Saying that I was 2cm dilated and fully effaced. I had also had stop start contractions for 3 days. I think most midwives will examine you and tell you how favourable you are first. So if you are concerned ask to be examined first and then you can decide if you want to proceed.
Had one with my second, I had been having contractions the night before but they came to a stop by morning, had a sweep early evening where the midwife pointed out that I was 2/3cms dilated. It seemed to get things going again and DC2 was born the next afternoon. So based on my experience I think they can help if you're already in early/slow labour.
They can't even do one if you aren't already partly on the way. I had an attempted one this week at 39 weeks as I'm due to be induced at 39+6. My cervix was still completely closed so it was no more than an examination (and therefore not painful at all). So agree with others, it's only going to help if your body is already making a start on its own.
In my experience sweeps only work if your cervix is ready and baby is ready to arrive otherwise it is incredibly painful and carries risk of infection. I had a sweep when I started labour with my second baby just to get the membranes clear so the surges would continue nice & string. Like being induced I would only have a sweep as an absolute last resort. Trust your instincts as your body will know what to do. Good luck.x
I had one today at 40+2 ahead of induction on Saturday.
It's been almost 4 hours and nothing yet though I did have period pains for around an hour and a half from 45 mins after the sweep. I'm half effaced with a soft cervix that can be brought forward and 'allows for 1 finger'. Not sure what all that means but fingers crossed something will happen! Not all that hopeful though
It's a personal choice but I wouldn't have one unless there was some medical urgency (???), same with induction. Don't see a point, surely sooner or later our body will go into labour on it's own. Had three spontaneous labours at 39+5, 40+6 and 41 and refused any offers of a sweep. It's your body and your choice! Good luck Megan