Your medical caregivers will tell you that a stretch and sweep is not considered an “intervention” as such, because it doesn’t involve drugs, so it is natural.
However, anything that is trying to start labour (other than your own body) is an “intervention” and has risks.
The stretch and sweep success rate is not very high.
A stretch and sweep is performed from 38 weeks (sometimes even as early as 37 weeks) and studies show that only 24% of women will go into labour within 48 hours of having a stretch and sweep.
Your midwife or Obstetrician will insert their gloved index finger into your vagina and in through the cervix.
The cervix has to be “favourable,” which means it is soft and stretchy and slightly open to get the finger inside.
Once inside, the finger is moved around in a circular motion (sweep) inside the cervix to separate the membranes (amniotic sac) from the cervix.
This is a way of triggering the release of prostaglandins, which may initiate labour – but more often than not it doesn’t.
The stretch is the massage and stretching open or movement of the cervix with the finger to again trigger the release of prostaglandins.
Stretch & Sweep Benefits
- This procedure can reduce the risk of women going over 42 weeks;
- A more gentle way of inducing in comparison to other medical procedures;
- May help to trigger the release of prostaglandins;
- It is a quick procedure;
- Can be repeated after 48 hours if nothing happens.
Stretch & Sweep Risks
- This procedure can be quite uncomfortable, even painful;
- Bleeding and increased mucous loss along with nausea and lower back pain;
- Women may experience intense cramping and feel they have gone into labour, but then the cramping subsides. This can go on for days without any progression, eventually leading to exhaustion before the woman is in real active labour;
- Pre-mature rupture of membranes (PROM) leading to an increased risk of infection;
- Once rupture of membranes occurs it is a race against the clock for some women due to hospital policy;
- Psychological and emotional distress due to women feeling their body is failing them and that they won’t go into labour unless they are “helped” along;
- If your dates have not been calculated correctly there is the risk of pre-term birth.
Here are the RANZCOG Guidelines for Induction of Labour in Australia and New Zealand.
OTHER INDUCTION METHODS
Prostaglandin Gel – CLICK HERE
Balloon Catheter (Foley’s or Cook’s) – CLICK HERE
Artificial Rupture of Membranes (AROM) – CLICK HERE
Synthetic Oxytocin (Syntocinon) – CLICK HERE
My name is Vicki Hobbs and I am a Childbirth Educator (Back to Basics Birthing), Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner, Certified VBAC Educator, Remedial Massage Therapist specialising in Pregnancy & Postpartum Massage, Birth & Postpartum Doula, Certified Placenta Encapsulator, Hypnotherapist, Aromatherapist, Reiki Practitioner and Life Coach. I am a serial workshopper and learner, so that I keep up to date with new research and information so that I can provide you with up to date resources. My focus has always been on the mind, the body and the emotions and how they all need to be in balance for harmony. You can subscribe to my newsletter by adding your details in the box on the right-hand side and when you do I will send you a free relaxation meditation to help you feel calm and relaxed. I am based in the northern suburbs of Perth and can be contacted by email at [email protected] or phone (08) 9303 9111 or click here to go back to my Blog Page for more great articles and information.
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