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What does an internal sweep involve?

(32 Posts)
mummy22gorgeousboys Fri 24-Jun-11 13:53:12

I know it sounds like a silly question, but I'm booked in for one.

What will the MW do and is it painful?


NorthLondonDoulas Fri 24-Jun-11 15:00:18


It will be a bit like an internal examination, the midwife/Dr will insert a couple of fingers and sweep the membranes away from the opening of the cervix. My experience of them is not painful but there is certainly some discomfort. Im sure its different for everyone but like a smear it should not hurt.

Good luck and i hope it starts things off for you...x

del1 Sat 25-Jun-11 20:28:35

I had one with my last pregnancy at 40 +2.
It was 4pm, I laid on the bed with my legs spread and the midwife had a good old dig ( sweep) inside. It wasn't painfull just uncomfortable.
I had some blood and she told me I was 2cm dilated, and it was 'favourable'.
She told me to expect some mild cramping afterwards.
So, I had cramps staright away, and just felt a bit off. My DP went off to work for his night shift, and the cramping continued through the night just really mild.
When I got out of bed at 7am in the morning to get DS ready, the cramps became more frequent and I gave birth about 2 1/2 hours later!!
I will defo be having one this time, and will be hopeing it works that quickly again!! smile

Tangle Sat 25-Jun-11 21:42:40

When your sweep was booked, did they explain why they were suggesting it? It sounds like you haven't been given very much info yet - feel free to ask as many questions as you want to before you agree on the day (if you still aspects of the procedure that you feel you don't understand).

I'm glad the two PP didn't find sweeps too bad - and for many women that's the case. It might just be worth being prepared as some women do find them quite painful. You might want to practice a phrase like "Stop that AT ONCE!" in the mirror, just in case you decide that, actually, you're not so keen on this now its happening... (Its a phrase recommended by Mary Cronk, and was actually once used against her by a woman she'd taught it to - because she was getting too enthusiastic while giving a sweep!)

I'll confess now that I've never had a sweep. But I did have to have a selection of VEs with DD2 and they had to insert prostin gel - I did NOT enjoy the experience and wouldn't have agreed to it had circumstances been different (there was a medical need to induce and prostin was the lesser of the evils available).

MummyAbroad Sat 25-Jun-11 22:14:55

I had an unsuccessful sweep - another thing you should be prepared for. Basically the mw had a feel around and then announced that a sweep couldnt be done because my cervix/baby wasnt in the right position, I was re booked for another one a few days later but the same thing happened again. I was then booked for induction, which I really didnt want, so out of desperation I took a dose of castor oil and it bought on labour. (Please note, I am not recommending this unless you are desperate, it gives you diarrea, which is not fun in early labour!!)

SerenaJoy Sat 25-Jun-11 22:44:00

I had one earlier this week - I found it quite uncomfortable, verging on painful, but it was over pretty quickly. I was dreading it beforehand, but the reality wasn't as bad as I was expecting. I think the key is to try to stay relaxed (easier said than done I know). I felt quite crampy and sore afterwards, and had a little bit of bleeding.

I've since lost my mucus plug, but no sign of labour yet! I'd have another one though, if I thought it was going to make a difference.

mummy22gorgeousboys Sun 26-Jun-11 20:33:45

Thanks for your answers.

Tangle - On wed when I'm booked in for a sweep I'll be 41 weeks so that's why I've been booked in. Nothing was explained but then I didn't ask either so prob both MW and I at fault.

Still no signs but might try castor oil?? Feeling sooo uncomfortable and don't fancy a sweep at all. We''ll see.

Thanks again for your replies and advice.

elseIlltellyourfather Sun 26-Jun-11 20:41:55

Watching with interest as will be having one tomorrow at 40+5. Fingers crossed it works and good luck to you OP - we must have had same due date, 22/06

hubbahubster Sun 26-Jun-11 20:49:21

Please please don't try castor oil, it's dehydrating as well as giving you the trots, really not what you need in pregnancy. Sex is way more likely to work! Get the oxytocin going smile

mummy22gorgeousboys Sun 26-Jun-11 20:55:58

hubbahubster - I wish!! DH does not find the pregnant woman form attractive at all!! We've been together 12 years and the only time he doesn't want sex is when I'm pregnant!

Maybe not castor oil then? I'm just sick of waiting. You worry about labour for the last month don't you, worrying about the pain etc. Then you reach a point when you just think, "Bring it on" - I am at that point. I want to see my baby!!

EthelredOnAGoodDay Sun 26-Jun-11 21:01:06

I had one at 41 weeks and DD was born at 41+1. as others have said, uncomfortable rather than painful. Good tip from friend of mine was to clench your fists and put them under your bum cheeks grin. I did it and it seemed to help a bit. Good luck!

hardlyshreddinghippo Sun 26-Jun-11 21:31:42

I had three, found them rather uncomfortable, but it doesnt last long, I'm sure less than a minute.
Even though I didnt like having them done, I kept agreeing to another and another and another as I just wanted a spontaneous labour and not to have to go in to be induced.
DD was born later in the day after the third sweep.

Dartfordmummy Sun 26-Jun-11 23:04:56

I had one and 1 hr 47 mins later my DS arrived after 2 pushes!!

WhoMovedMyCheeseToast Sun 26-Jun-11 23:12:35

Oh, mine was unexplained, unexpeced, painful and shockingly bloody. And I didn't go into labour for another week. And ended up with a strep B infection when I'd tested negative for it before the sweep. All in all, I hated it, thought it was unnecessary, and blame it for me ending up with a blood infection and nearly losing my firstborn. (Oh, and the resultant emergency c-section -- and, indirectly, my subsequent c-sections.) Sorry can't be more positive about it!

Zimbah Mon 27-Jun-11 11:53:07

I had four sweeps with DD2, well only one actually counted (the last one!!) as the first three times my cervix was too far back for the midwife to reach. I found the 3 attempted sweeps uncomfortable and a bit painful, I just focussed on my breathing and stayed as relaxed as possible. On the second one, I was going to tell her to stop as it was hurting to much and by the time I'd decided to say stop, she'd stopped herself as decided it wasn't going to work.

The fourth, successful sweep was actually less painful. It was quite bloody, I went home, an hour later started having contractions and 16 hours later DD2 was born. Overall they were no where near as bad as I'd thought.

elseIlltellyourfather Mon 27-Jun-11 12:05:47

Mine is booked for today after lunch...

I am 40+5 and have had no signs of labour - does this mean it is unlikly to be effective (or possible?). With my first DC I had no signs, then show and waters from nowhere (well, not nowhere!); have never experienced BH contractions so am hoping just because I have had no signs doesn't mean I am far away from being ready...?

hardlyshreddinghippo Mon 27-Jun-11 12:30:04

Quite right elseIlltell that means nothing! Good luck for this afternoon... we await your feedback!

elseIlltellyourfather Mon 27-Jun-11 13:17:38

Well, MW has been: It was ok, a bit sore and uncomfortable but not exactly painful. Made me breath hard but not gasp with pain so thats something! It did go on longer than I'd imagined - I thought it would be a 'sweep'; literally brushing her fingers over cervix but it is more a rub/stir! Has given me backache immediatly but baby is back to back so that might be why.

On a positive I am 2cms dilated, she could feel its little head and said I was 'very favourable' which I'll take as a compliment grin

hardlyshreddinghippo Mon 27-Jun-11 13:22:37

grin grin grin fingers crossed it has got things going for you!

elseIlltellyourfather Mon 27-Jun-11 13:25:11

Thanks. I currently feel a rising 'what have I done' panic - labour isn't exactly something to look forwards to is it.

Quick uncross fingers, changed my mind...

DitaVonCheese Mon 27-Jun-11 14:15:54

First one of mine was very uncomfortable, second one less so but still no picnic. Wear a sanitary towel afterwards as you may bleed a bit.

Castor oil is the only thing I didn't try to get 12 days overdue DD out - definitely a last resort. Would try sex, blowjobs (your DH might agree to that wink), nipple stimulation (best one for me), acupuncture, walking, bouncing on a birthing ball, clary sage oil first. Good luck smile

Catsycat Mon 27-Jun-11 16:45:19

I had 6 (count 'em) sweeps with my second DD, from 37 weeks onwards. ( I failed to go into labour with DD1, and there is evidence that with women who have previously failed to go into labour, early and repeated sweeps can help. ) I had to sneak into a neighbouring doctors surgery as our PCT won't do them before 41 weeks. smile

Although not my favourite day out, they weren't painful just a bit embarrassing and uncomfortable, mainly because my MW put a bit of pressure on the top of my bump to try and push everything down a bit. Breathing through it definitely helped, and it is over quite quickly. I never had any ill effects after so many of them, and did ultimately go into labour 14 days late (though I failed to progress and had an emergency CS anyway!!!).

My midwife explained that the sweep is not really intended to be like flipping a switch that instantly makes labour start - though for some lucky people it is - it is often just something that assists in preparing the body for labour perhaps in the next few days.

Hope this makes sense, and good luck!

Please don't try the Castor Oil - it was horrible, really horrible - hideous oily poo, and sitting on the toilet for ages with a cramping gut. Sorry if TMI. Even drinking it with orange juice it was revolting and made me retch. I tried it with DD1, born nearly 19 days late by emergency CS after a failed induction and no flicker of labour, so for me the castor oil was a horrible waste of time and money!

Catsycat Mon 27-Jun-11 16:47:41

Sorry, missed the post saying you'd had it - well done, sounds like it's all looking good for you to meet your baby soon!

hardlyshreddinghippo Mon 27-Jun-11 16:57:45

Catsycat OP hasnt yet, hers is booked for weds.

reikizen Mon 27-Jun-11 17:01:35

Just a couple of points really, for info. The sweep is intended to manually separate the membranes from the lower portion of the cervix/uterus in order to stimulate the body to make prostaglandins. We don't know what actually starts labour but we know prostaglandins play a part, and artificial prostaglandins are inserted in the form of prostin gel/propess for most inductions.
The discomfort is really linked to the state of the cervix. If it is posterior (behind baby's head) and very high and closed, it will be painful because the midwife has to really reach round to find it. In this instance the sweep may not even be possible and will probably not be effective. If your cervix is central and slightly open it is much easier, less painful and more likely to be effective. Hope all is going well for you.

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