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Membrane sweep, what is it exactly?

(32 Posts)
Mouseplus1 Fri 07-May-10 23:57:39

Hello clever ladies.x

I am 40 weeks tomorrow with my first baby and should the little sausage decide not to arrive by next thursday my midwide said she'd do a membrane sweep for me. She described it as an uncomfortable internal. hmmm.

what is it exactly that she will be doing pray tell?

Thanking you in advance.


hellymelly Sat 08-May-10 00:13:51

Don't have one.It is hideous (well you did ask).I had one with no warning and I felt as though I'd been assaulted-I suppose it was an assault technically.It hurt so much I started to cry and my DH in the end asked her to stop.It was as though she was looking for a lost sock in the washing machine of my vagina,but had got so annoyed that the sock MUST BE IN THERE SOMEHWERE she was rummaging with increasingly frantic vigour.
I asked my doula about it when I was pregant again,(and luckily it only took me one bout of sex to get pregnant again or I might have lost my nerve on remembering the rummaging)And she agreed with me ,she advises against them.Go have sex instead,drink castor oil or whatever it is that they say works,drink castrol GTX for Gods sake but don't put yourself through it unless you have a vagina of steel.

TheNextMrsDepp Sat 08-May-10 00:35:48

Yes, it's a little uncomfortable, but worked a treat on me and avoided a dreaded CS as I was overdue. The midwife just runs a finger round the cervix and "irritates" the membrane which will often kickstart labour. It does feel like a rather vigorous internal, but the midwife was so sweet and reassuring and I was so fed up with being massively pregnant that it was well worth the momentary discomfort. It is natural and drug-free, and I can't see why any doula would have a problem.

memorylapse Sat 08-May-10 01:37:30

I was induced 3 weeks ago at 37 weeks..and prior to the induction my consultant gave me a was uncomfortable..and tbh did nothing for me..but I was only 37 weeks..DD wasnt due until 4 days ago!...I guess if you are overdue a sweep might kickstart things..word of can feel a bit sore afterwards and have some pink/bloodstained discharge

Octaviapink Sat 08-May-10 05:48:29

It is vigorous, certainly, but it has to be as it's a form of natural induction. It sounds as though hellymelly did have a bad experience, and you might want to check out the size of your mw's hands before she does it! Essentially she will insert two or three fingers into your vagina and 'sweep' the membranes away from the cervix. It is definitely on the high scale of very very uncomfortable verging on painful, but if you go two weeks overdue it's a lot better than drug-induced induction.

EldonAve Sat 08-May-10 07:12:47

I had a similar experience to hellymelly although I had agreed to the sweep

If your cervix is soft it may not hurt
If your cervis is firm and closed it may hurt a lot

Just imagine someone trying to force your cervix open with their hand vigorously

vmcd28 Sat 08-May-10 14:39:28

well, I agreed to one, but my MW said they dont usually make much difference, but they "work for some people". I was prepared to try anything, but tbh I will never let them do it ever again! The first time, it was agony, I was in tears, and it made no difference. Then, a week later, when I went to hosp to be induced, they did it again there. It was actually fine, and I did go into labour a few hours later, but that was possibly coincidence - I mean, I was 42 weeks, so it was going to happen some time soon!!

hellymelly Sun 09-May-10 22:52:47

I think that if your cervix is closed and not ready at all for labour then it is horrible and really painful as it was for me.If your cervix is more "receptive" as they say,then it might work or seem to work but then you would probably go into labour anyway.My doula's aurgument was that anything which causes the body to go into labour when it isn't quite ready disturbs the complex hormonal process of birth and can affect the labour and the whole birth experience.For this reason she was against accupuncture as a way to kick-start labour too.My cervix and the rest of me was not at all ready for labour,I had pre-eclampsia and they were trying to induce me.I really think the sweep contributed to my c-section as it made me so upset,frightened stressed and in such pain that there was no way my body was going to go into labour.I think that sweeps are one of those things that are tried for virtually no reason and that when they "work" its pretty likely you were about to go into labour soon anyway.

Mouseplus1 Mon 10-May-10 09:05:43

Thank you for sharing your stories and experiences for me.x.

So sorry that some of you had horrid ones and I must admit that it has put me off. I'm 40 plus 2 days now and sweep should be this thursday. I wont be massively overdue but I was pretty eager to get things going. My mum has been staying with me for the past two weeks and she has to go home next Monday to have a hip replacement so I really really wanted her to see the baby being born before she has to go.

I shall try everything under the sun first I reckon and see what gives.

Thanks again.

EldonAve Mon 10-May-10 10:45:41

Good luck Mouseplus1

OnlyWantsOne Mon 10-May-10 11:14:39

I had a sweep with my DD - had it at 40+1 and it didnt hurt, was a tad uncomfortable, I went on to have my DD the next day

first1 Mon 10-May-10 15:59:37

I have just had one this afternoon at 39 weeks by a beefy male consultant. It failed so not only was it a tad uncomfortable, my dignity was shot for no reason! Got another one booked for Friday at 39+4. Fab confused

cinnamongreyhound Mon 10-May-10 17:22:33

I had one at 41+4 and found it at worst uncomfortable but not painful and it definately didn't bring me to tears. I had a long labour and after many internals it was painful but the sweep was no where near that painful. I had a very high, thick and closed cervix so didn't do anything for me but may suggest that it's not the state of your cervix (as others have said) but just the skill of those who do it?

My midwife this time seems to put a lot of faith in them, but I don't really know. I was of the mind that it can't hurt last time and would have another one this time without question.

poguemahone Mon 10-May-10 17:32:24

I had 3 with my first DC, over the space of 2 weeks. They were uncomfortable but certainly preferable in my mind to an induction. I didn't notice a difference in discomfort levels between the 3 of them (and my cervix would certainly have been more favourable by the 3rd).

I went into labour a day after the 3rd (and the day I was due to go into hospital for an induction). I don't know if it was related or not, but I was glad I'd tried it.

mosschops30 Mon 10-May-10 17:35:43

it can be uncomfortable depending on who's doing it. I had a posterior cervix so the better midwives would try and 'walk' my cervix forward first to do a sweep.

FWIW nothing will shift that baby if its not ready, take it from me who had 5 sweeps, followed by about 10 more in hospital, followed by propess, followed by prostin followed by artificial rupture of membranes, follwed by EMCS

Nothing was shifting ds2 grin

belly36 Mon 10-May-10 18:56:46

I had one with my last pregnancy and I'm sorry to say I was one of the ones who found it so painful I cried.

Now 40+1, have an appointment next Monday and will most likely refuse the sweep.

TheNextMrsDepp Mon 10-May-10 21:04:40

I would say it's worth a go unless you have a particularly low pain threshold; don't be put off. I found it less painful than drinking a cup of raspberry leaf tea and WAY less painful than actually popping the little blighter out! As long as you are prepared for the discomfort and find yourself a nice midwife. Good luck OP.

madcatsazz Thu 13-May-10 17:43:50

Thenext - I find it a little harsh to say "unless you have a particularly low pain threshold" because, as you can see from others experiences, it's less about your pain threshold and more about the condition of your cervix and to a point, the practitioner carrying it out. I had one today from a male consultant and I found him to be rough and painful - admittedly no tears but still extremely uncomfortable and verging on painful. My cervix was not "favourable". I tend to agree with Hellybelly though - very unpleasant and they seem pretty pointless to me. If the baby isn't ready, the baby isn't ready. For the record, induction isn't a 'given' and is in fact your choice OP. I refused today and have instead elected for expectant management.

FlyMeToDunoon Thu 13-May-10 17:51:46

I had an internal exam with first PG and it was very painful.
Later with 3rd PG and at 42 weeks it wasn't too bad. It was vigorous and MW said she had pulled my cevix round! However not painful. Dignity does go out of the window bit hey welcome to the childbirth experience.
Seriously- good luck with it all.

Trafficcone Thu 13-May-10 17:56:28

I've never found sweeps remotely painful. There's some scarily low pain thresholds here or some dodgy Mws!! It's just a vigourous internal while they break some of the mini blood vessels that connect the sac to the Upper cervix and womb lining.
MUCH better than a chemical induction.

CarmenSanDiego Thu 13-May-10 18:06:41

Gestation is anything from 38 to 42 weeks. Yet we have this number 40 stuck in our heads.

Yes, there are risks of degrading placentas the further along you go, but for many women, going past 40 weeks is absolutely normal and there ought to be more monitoring available to see whether there actually is any problem, not just to act as though there is. There's far too much of a rush to induce and get labour going. In the US, many babies showing signs of prematurity are being born because such an enormous amount of the population are induced or C-Sectioned.

A cervical sweep is more than a mechanical process too. It releases hormones into your body and tries to start labour. This has risks of infection and false labour before your body is ready.

I woud only do it if there were serious problems indicated, not because I was feeling a bit big and uncomfortable.

Your doula is right that sex is a better, more natural alternative. Semen contains prostaglandins to help the cervix ripen. Castor oil is not recommended though. Nor nipple stimulation.

TheNextMrsDepp Thu 13-May-10 18:11:32

Madcatsazz - fair enough, that was a bit of a glib statement about pain thresholds, but there is no doubt that there are people who can cope with pain/discomfort more than others. I guess I was just lucky and didn't find it hugely painful, particularly when I compare it to the chemical induction I endured with the previous PG - grim. And if the sweep doesn't work, you're no worse off than you were before.

madcatsazz Thu 13-May-10 19:23:07

I'm probably just feeling extra sensitive tonight TNMD - I'm feeling a little interfered with after my sweep today and it's left me achey and sore but with no signs of labour. Damn hormones playing up again!

vmcd28 Thu 13-May-10 19:52:13

It's nothing to do with pain threshold! If your cervix is still closed, of course it's going to be extremely painful for someone to stick two fingers in it and sweep them around!!!

Mouseplus1 Fri 14-May-10 07:28:12

Right then...

I had the dreaded 'sweep' yesterday morning at 11.00 and although my dignity was lost slightly I don't think it was nearly as bad as I was expecting.

I went on a 2 miles walk afterwards to try and get things going and upon my return DH took me for an eye watering balti.

have woken up this morning and there seems to be a lot of mucous pink goo on my tissue after I'd been for a wee.

What does this mean? Is this a show?

I feel fine and haven't had any twinges yet.

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