Originally Posted by laughymama
it seems like a toss up of "It worked for me!" and "Didn't do a darn thing".
I've actually found the research shows the same thing! There are studies showing no effect & other studies showing - particularly if sweeps were done repeatedly in late pregnancy, women did deliver sooner than without sweeps.
Here's my experience:
Had it done on 41W4D. (Planning hospital birth, their "policy" was routine induction if I hit 42W, although at least one of the MWs flat out told me she didn't agree with this, so I would have declined, but obviously would rather not have to face it anyway.)
MW said I was about 3cm, went to 4 as she went around to do the sweeping.
She said it was "a perfect cervix. I really think this is going to work."
She didn't name the percentage effaced I was, although I didn't care much about the # since I know those stats are meaningless without labor. She just said "perfect cervix again." (I had asked about coming back to have it done like 10-12 hours later if nothing happened.)
I had previously not even had ANY BH ctrx & was starting to feel paranoid my uterus didn't even work!
Ctrx started 2 hours later. DS was born about 6 hours after that!
I had had the sweep done at 10:30 AM, so I was very fortunate to labor during the day - & since it was July & we had a big in-ground pool, I spent most of labor floating in the pool, which ROCKED!
My belief is that I would have gone into labor that night if I hadn't had the sweep (pretty sure I've read it's more likely to go into labor at night since oxytocin levels are naturally higher.) But as I said, laboring in the day was a huge advantage since I got in the pool outside! I also figured it was nice that I was well-rested instead of waking up at 2 AM with ctrx.
The sweep actually didn't hurt. It wasn't exactly 'comfortable' but it wasn't painful. One of my friends said it hurt her. BUT - this particularly MW has really tiny hands! she just did a pelvic exam on me a couple months ago & it was by far the most comfortable I've ever had - so I'm thinking it's likely her small hands helped the sweep to not be painful. (Hm, although reading a PP, maybe it was the fact that I was 3cm & stretchy?)
It also took maybe 2 seconds if that, she literally just ran her finger in a circular motion just inside the cervix. I really don't think it was more than 2 seconds.
The only risks I saw were introduction of bacteria- more of a concern if you're GBS +. I also worried about breaking the water, but my doula said, "Oh, they know what they're doing, they won't break the water." Not sure how often it happens that water breaks.
Another 'risk' I've read about is people having ctrx that start after a sweep & then never really go anywhere! So you're coping with the discomfort of ctrx, maybe not able to sleep, but not actually put into labor. Seems that would be a bit hassle... i.e. if I'm not going to actually be in labor
then I don't want to be dealing with semi-regular ctrx!
Based on my personal experience, I'd probably have it done again - in the morning - but only if I hit 41W or beyond again. I agree that it's sort of a "why not" thing - the risks are so low. AND - I really think it's like other natural 'induction' methods such as nipple stimulation & sex - it can help get things moving if you are ready anyway, but it won't necessarily put you into labor if your body & baby are NOT yet ready. Although, ha, that's not evidence-based! Just an opinion I have based on reading about it for years.
As for risks of going post-dates, actually, yes, the risk of stillbirth does go up after 41W & again after 42W - BUT, it is still a very low risk overall and I don't think it goes up substantially. There's also a risk that the placenta will begin to degrade, and therefore not adequately supply the baby with oxygen, but I really don't know how often that happens & a woman does NOT go into labor.