What to expect in a sweep???

Hi ladies,

Im currently 37 weeks and 5 days today, due on the 20th (nervous!) but on the 14th, the midwife wants me to go in for a sweep at the doctors (thought i would have to go to hospital?!) she didnt really explain things to me as she said th other midwife (who i prefer) would be doing it.

I would just like to know what i should expect, what happens. Ive heard it can be uncomfortable x

7 Replies

Hi, sweeping of the membranes means I think that they are trying to separate the membrane at the point of the cervix. I believe you need to have started to dilate to do it. My consultant asked that the MW did one at wk 38, she refused, said pointless exercise, at wk 39 different MW, couldn't reach then I finally had one at 39+6 on ANDU as I thought my waters had gone.

It might feel uncomfortable, (similar to that of having a smear but a little worse) I only had one and its felt like a low cramp, best thing is to breathe through it & stay relaxed, good practice for childbirth ;-) There might be a little blood after. I had cramps that night but didn't start my labour X


Hi. I had two sweeps carried out. I was expecting it to be really uncomfortable but found that it was about the same as having a smear.

For the first attempt I was at doctors surgery. On this attempt I was not dilated at all and my cervix was quite far back.

The second time I went into hospital (I was 40+ 11) and this time midwife was able to do the sweep properly. I went out shopping afterwards but started feeling sick & Braxton hicks started strongly. Had a show that night and baby was born at 3:45 next day.


I have one booked for tomorrow, I've never had one before but (two previous came before edd) I am 39+2 but MW doesn't want me going over due to previous section.


Firstly, it's fine.

Last Thursday my midwife tried to have a go but couldnt because my cervix was posterior (behind baby's head) so she couldnt get at it. However, ended up going into triage on Saturday afternoon (dont ask!) and the hospital midwife had a go there. She said she didnt know what thursdays midwife was doing, but she found it 'easy'.

I wouldnt compare it to a smear test as I find smear tests painful -the speculum hurts me and I come out in a sweat. Proper HATE smears.

Sweep does NOT involve speculum OR horrible scraping sensation that you get with a smear test. Essentially, the midwife inserts 2 fingers (sorry if tmi, but you did ask ;) and makes a circular motion around your cervix to try and separate the membranes. Its 'uncomfortable' (and slightly undignified) but not painful. It made me 'make a face' but thats it -the expectation of what is about to happen is far worse than the actual event.

Midwife said it might trigger some period type pain and spotting. I had the period pain & baby became VERY busy that night, but no blood and nothing else happened. However, last night I had the characteristic 'show' (that basically looks like youve had a cold and blown your nose!) so I now know that it was successful.

Hope my explanation helps. Good luck!


Hi, i had a sweep with my first pregnancy and went into labour without further assistance 2 days later. It's pretty much as described above,a little uncomfortable but very quick and nothing to worry about. hope all goes well for you xxx


I had a sweep - found it uncomfortable but pain free and it is really quick. I went into labour the next day. Good luck!


Thanks for the replies ladies! Much appreciated x


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