Are you ready to give birth? A bucket sweep is a way to help your body speed up the start of your labor - in a completely natural way! Is it really possible, you may ask? It is, but you need to meet a certain number of criteria for it to be possible for your midwife to perform. In this article, we tell you more!
How does it work?
In a tubal ligation, the midwife or obstetrician inserts two fingers through the vagina and into the cervix. They then try to create space between the fetal membranes and the lower part of the uterus by sweeping the finger or fingers in a circular motion. This releases prostaglandins, a hormone that naturally accelerates the maturation of your cervix and increases the tendency of the uterus to produce contractions.
When is a bucket sweep relevant?
For this to be possible, the cervix must be open to at least one finger, which corresponds to about 1.5 cm. Then, as a pregnant woman, you should will and consent to have a bucket sweep. You should always be given information about what a bucket sweep entails before it is carried out.
The recommended timing of a vaginal sweep depends on regional guidelines, but it is usually only recommended after you have passed your BF so as not to affect your delivery unnecessarily. I some cases however, you may want to speed up the natural process even before the BF.
If you are a first-time mother, it is often difficult to have a hysterectomy before the birth as the cervix is often closed, while it is more common for a second-time mother to already be open towards the end of the pregnancy. Pap smears can be carried out by midwives at the midwifery clinic and at the maternity hospital or specialist maternity care.
When is bucket sweeping not possible?
- If the fetal head is still mobile
- If the placenta is located low in the uterus
- If the fetus is stunted
- You have an ongoing infection of the cervix
- If the fetus is in breech or transverse position
- Fetal malformation has been identified
- You have previously undergone a caesarean section
What does the research say?
Research shows varying results after a Pap smear, but taken together from a large number of articles, it can be estimated that a Pap smear reduces the risk of going to 42+0 by around 14%. How much a Pap smear helps in your particular case is difficult to say, but it probably depends on how mature your cervix is during the Pap smear. The best effect is achieved by repeating the Pap smear every few days.
Are there any side effects?
After a buccal swab, it is common to experience 'pin pains', i.e. painful contractions such as the following not affects the maturation of your cervix. You may also experience some minor vaginal bleeding after the cervical smear. The bleeding is not dangerous and will subside.
So, vaginal sweeping is a way to help your body naturally accelerate the start of your labor. The effect is likely to be highly individual, but at the population level the effect is not so great. However, complications are rare and it may help you if you want to speed up your delivery!
With regard to GBS (Group B streptococcus), there is currently no research proving that bucket sweeping would lead to an increased risk of infection in the pregnant woman or the fetus, but the evidence is limited and no firm conclusions can be drawn.
*Note that regional and provider-dependent variations may occur.
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