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Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cheree. A sweep’s not as bad as you think it will be…
OK, it’s not a barrel of laughs, but it can be effective. It’s very much like a smear test, except to add to the sense of jollity it’s a finger rather than a speculum that is inserted. A bit like an internal, but with extra rummaging.
The midwife or doctor inserts a finger into your vagina, easing the opening of the cervix slightly. They then ‘sweep’ round with their finger, rupturing the membranes from the cervix. This is supposed to encourage the release of prostaglandins and kickstart contractions. After the procedure, you will normally be sent home to see how things progress.
The downsides are that it can be uncomfortable or even painful. It may cause a little bleeding – although that shouldn’t last long. The positive side is that it can work to start labour and reduces rates of chemically inducing labour by around 20 per cent.
A cervical sweep is usually done (and is most effective) around week 41, and if it is going to start the action, you should see some results within 48 hours. If it doesn’t work, you might want to try another sweep.
The anticipation of B-Day can be unbearable, so try to distract yourself: meet up with friends (while you can still give them your undivided attention) and go for short walks. Read up on labour, but remember that babies don't often read birth plans and your delivery may not go precisely as anticipated. Remember, too, that there are no medals for bravery; pain relief is as much for your baby as you - you'll bond faster if labour isn't too painful for too long.
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You're nearly there - what does week 40 look like?
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