Is a sweep the same as stretching?

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jaimers617's picture
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Is a sweep the same as stretching?

So, I had my 39 week appt last night. I asked for the sweep, and was told they only really do them at 39/40 weeks. I told her - 'I am 39 weeks today' I honestly don't understand what the hesitation is and why I'm continually being told its done at a later time. Plus, on top of that, if I make it to 40 weeks, they make me do a NST at the appt. Doesn't that seem odd? After she told me then do them at 39/40 weeks, I told her that I had a sweep done at 38w5d last pregnancy and went right into labor. She said she would do one, but I'm not sure she actually did. Is a sweep any different than her just stretching me 'a little'. She literally said 'You might have some spotting because I stretched you a little' Is that the same as a sweep?? It didn't seem like she did very much. Last pregnancy when I had the sweep done, it took longer and the doc seemed to actually be doing something. This time I just thought she was checking me since it wasn't really much longer than a usual check. I thought I was starting to have contractions and slept awful last night, but I don't seem to be having much of anything this morning. Sad I'm so bummed and so not really thrilled with my doctors office.

kilahmaree's picture
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A sweep and stretch are totally different. With a sweep they are actually pulling your bag full of waters off of your cervix - moving it. Though you went into labor last time from this, it is actually proven that it only works to bring on labor less tahn 30% of the time, although it nearly always brings on contractions - they're just not going anywhere. But I am really sorry that she did not do what you asked. That's ridiculous and I would be super upset if I were you.

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From what I have read, it is normally done at the same time (stretch and sweep is often what it is referred to). The success rates can vary depending on how it is done, how favorable the cervix is (how soft, effaced, dilated), and how close you are to your EDD. Most studies found that women were anywhere from 40%-60% more likely to deliver within several days after having a sweep versus women who didn't. It sounds like your OB may not have been too thorough when she did the sweep (if she did one).
Maybe it will get something going in the next few days!!!

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I agree with the pp. A sweep consists of sticking fingers inside the cervical opening (the stretch) and then running the finger around the rim to detach the amniotic sac from the cervix. So it is done at the same time, but you would likely feel it because it's fairly uncomfortable. It's entirely possible that your cervix wasn't dilated enough for her to do very much.

jaimers617's picture
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Bummer - that sucks that they're two separate things Sad I know I'm at LEAST 50% effaced...I was 50% at 37 weeks. And I was dilated 3cm last night at the appt. I don't know how my cervix is doing at this point because they haven't said anything the last 2 appts. I wouldn't mind as much if she had told me I wasn't really ready for a sweep, or that it wouldn't take because I'm not far enough along. I'm getting tired of being told I can have one (and in the case of last night being told she actually did one) and then not having it done. Just tell me if it doesn't look like it'll take, or I'm not dilated enough...thats all I ask. Just a straight answer.

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Lurking

I had a sweep with DS around 39w5d and I didn't feel it. When he was done I said "oh, I wanted to see if you could sweep my membranes today" and he said "I just did". It was a little uncomfortable but I thought it was just because it was an exam and I was close to my DD. I was like 1 cm and 75% effaced. That was a Friday and I went into labor Sunday but didn't actually deliver until Tuesday. I believe PP when they say it brings on contractions but not necessarily labor.

Good luck - I know how it is to get so close to the end and you want something to get started.

ekcanada's picture
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Lurker!

This was a great question and something I never thought to ask! thank you!

I had "something" done at 38+ with my first and it was uncomfortable but did nothing. At 40 + 3 I had it done again. It hurt like crazy and my ob said he would see me that night (and he did :)). I guess the first was a stretch to pacify me (because I asked for it) and the second was a sweep?

Great question!!!

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"jaimers617" wrote:

Bummer - that sucks that they're two separate things Sad I know I'm at LEAST 50% effaced...I was 50% at 37 weeks. And I was dilated 3cm last night at the appt. I don't know how my cervix is doing at this point because they haven't said anything the last 2 appts. I wouldn't mind as much if she had told me I wasn't really ready for a sweep, or that it wouldn't take because I'm not far enough along. I'm getting tired of being told I can have one (and in the case of last night being told she actually did one) and then not having it done. Just tell me if it doesn't look like it'll take, or I'm not dilated enough...thats all I ask. Just a straight answer.

I doubt she misled you. They aren't the same so to speak, but they don't do one without the other. 3 cm should be enough for a stretch and sweep. They just need to get a few fingers in there to separate the bag a little. She very well could have done one...they aren't always painful and they don't always get results. :confused:
But it could still get things started in the next few days.

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*lurker*

Is this something that is normally done, or do you have to ask for it? I can't say that I've ever had this done, and my OB has never offered to do this for me... and this is my fourth baby! I guess it didn't really matter, as I went into labor on my own in the 39th week with both boys, and I was in a lot of pain with DD that my OB just induced me right at 39 weeks... I just find it odd that with DD when she knew how much pain I was in she didn't at least offer to do this sweep thing for me??

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I think it really depends on the practitioner. I would definitely want to try it before a traditional induction though. I didn't get one with DD, but I had her at 38w3d. This time, I'll ask if I go over 40 weeks.