A Stretch and Sweep is actually a natural way of promoting your body to go into labour. The process stimulates the production of oxytocin naturally in your body, which hopefully will start labour.
How is it done?
It is an internal examination, where a vaginal exam is performed with two fingers usually to reach for the cervix. If the cervix is slightly open, then it is possible to stretch and then sweep the membranes of the cervix.
The procedure can be quite uncomfortable and you can ask your doctor/midwife to stop at any time you want. Not uncommonly, there can be some vaginal spotting or very light bleeding at the end mixed with some mucous. This can gradually continue on as a brown discharge for a couple of days.
What can I expect?
As a stretch and sweep is intending to naturally induce labour, you may expect some cramping pains after the procedure. This may build up to contractions, and then hopefully natural labour! Sometimes, your waters might break or leak before you are in labour – so please ring your healthcare provider if this happens. A stretch and sweep is not a guaranteed of getting labour started, so don’t be too disappointed if labour does not start.
Is there any risk?
There is a very small risk of infection, and this is why it is sometimes not offered especially if your waters have already broken. Sometimes, your waters may also break at the time when a stretch and sweep is being performed, and this may mean you need an induction on the same day especially if you are GBS (Group Strep B) positive.
When can I have one?
A stretch and sweep can be offered when you are close or past your due date in low risk pregnancies. If you are thinking of having one, talk to your obstetrician or midwife to discuss your options.