What even is a sweep? Well, a sweep is a form of induction. A midwife or doctor undertakes a vaginal examination and if possible, inserts their fingers into your cervix, moving in a sweeping motion. The aim is to detach the bag of waters from the cervix/uterus lining. This releases hormones which theoretically could 'induce' labour.
For a first time mum, sweeps are offered from 40 weeks and for subsequent births 41 weeks of pregnancy. This may differ in individual circumstances.
There is limited evidence on the effectiveness of sweeps, the majority says that they only do the job of starting labour if your body is gonna do it soon anyway.
What we do know is that a sweep may reduce your chance of going past 42 weeks by half (41% to 23%) and reduce the length of your pregnancy by up to 4 days.
It may not be all it's cracked up to be though... A sweep can be uncomfortable, especially if your body just isn't ready yet.
It can result in bleeding, on and off contractions/surges and there is a 1 in 10 chance of your waters breaking in the process.
They can also only be performed if your cervix is slightly open and within reaching distance! Consider how you may feel if your midwife says that your cervix isn't 'favourable', would you feel worried that labour is never going to happen? (Totally not true!)
It is a complex topic so please leave your questions below. And please remember the most important thing: CONSENT. It is always your choice and with such an intimate procedure, do not feel pushed into anything you are unsure about. The phrase 'just going to do a quick sweep' is so often used and it is a violation of your rights. If you are having any procedure AT ALL, you should be made aware of the benefits and risks of it vs the benefits and risks of doing something else or nothing at all. Only when you have been given this information and the opportunity to ask questions, should you make your decision.
Unfortunately, many healthcare professionals have got stuck in a rut of not giving you the opportunity to consider your options and this makes it hard to do what you actually wish to. This is why my classes can be so helpful, providing a safe space for you to explore and reflect on your experiences and choices.
You can learn all this and more in one of my in person hypnobirthing courses, get in touch if you are pregnant in East Sussex 🤰💖👶