Will midwife do a sweep if babes head not engaged?


Just wondered if anyone knew if m/w would still do a sweep if baby`s head was only 4/5th engaged? Or is it pointless?

Am not booked in for one until a week today but was just curious as last time bubs head was only slightly engaged



  • Yep she will providing its possible! Sometimes with first babies the cervix is still very high, hard and closed but your mw will examine you and should do a sweep if its possible. Evening primrose oil capsuals are very good for softening the cervix.
  • Thanks hun, i just wasnt sure if they`d even attempt it if the head was free. Ive heard that some m/ws wont risk it because it can cause your waters to rupture (although i dont see whats wrong with that - they have to go sometime!)

    Just dont want to "build up" to it and then for her to say no, sorry, i wont do one!

    Im only 39 weeks tomorrow but am already wishing away the end of the pregnancy as i just want to meet him now
    thanks again
  • I don't actually know the answer, but I would think 4/5 is sufficiently engaged. I think the reason they wouldn't want your waters to go if the head is free is in case of prolapsed cord (i.e. the cord falls down into the cervix before the head does and then gets squashed and cuts off the oxygen supply), but I think that's only a risk if the baby's head is completely free and not at all engaged, so as I say I think 4/5 is plenty engaged.

    Good luck x
  • Yeah they should, with Ashton I went into be induced at 40+10 and his head still wasn't engaged then but 3 different midwives had done sweeps on me at various times betweeen 40 weeks and going into hospital (had 4 in total). Only thing I would say is don't get your hopes up that it will definatly start labour as in my case it didn't do anything! Goodluck though! xxx
  • Thanks Moomin - thats a good point about the cord dropping down, like you say if the head is in position it more or less "seals" the hole up so there is no entry point for the cord.

    Thanks for that as well Tamara - i fully understand what your saying and am not fixing my hopes on it working at all to be honest! I just wanted to be mentally prepared that if she wont do it i wont work myself up to it. ( i have too much time on my hands i think haha!)

    thanks ladies

    K x
  • Hi Katy,
    I am in this situation at 41 weeks and my midwives won't do a sweep due to risk of waters going and cord prolapsing. my babies head is free but right at the pelvic brim.
    I am booked for induction on saturday but this is also more risky with head not being engaged so may end up with c section. i was told that bouncing on birthing ball may help head to engage.
    good luck and i hope your baby is engaged soon.
    nat x
  • Hi Katy,

    It seems the opinion is divided then, I have been wondering the same thing. My baby was free at my last ante natal appt on Thursday and I am starting to wonder if I'm now going to go overdue.

    We've just sorted out a home birth so I really want the baby to come before I need to be induced and have to go to the main hospital...

    I hope you are otherwise ok, the end is so close but does seem to be taking its time!!

    Bec 39+4 x
  • Sorry to hear you`re in that situation nat, i hope things go well for you on Saturday, you must be so excited and nervous. I`ve been on my ball but i just have a feeling this baby is an awkward little thing and aint going anywhere fast!

    We dont have much luck do we Goonie, first suspected breech, now heads not engaging! Is the head being free the same as 4/5ths? Im not sure, i know 4/5ths is barely there and they wouldnt class it as engaged. I cant face the prospect of still being here in 3 weeks time. I didnt realised you were going for a homebirth, i hope evrything works out and you get it. Im still hoping for a water birth in the midwife led unit at our hospital. I know theres people who are actually over due but Iam so so sick of waiting to meet this lo, like you say, these last few weeks are dragging like crazy

    Katy 39 weeks xx
  • HI Katy,
    Just saw this and I had literally just got off the phone to my MW. I was asking for a sweep at 40w (tomorrrow) as I have been having braxton hicks for ages, baby is in position and head only 1/5 palpable. Also I have been told that this is a big baby and so I am really keen not to go too overdue and have to get seen by consultants which will probably mean that I don't get my home birth, and possibly get led down the c section route.

    Anyway, sorry to tell you this but the conversation didnt give me much hope, she said that they don't like to give them until 41w as it is unlikely that they will work. I have an apt tomorrow and so she will get the MW coming to try, but basically she made me feel like a proper winger. Not sure if she has had a bad day but she made me feel so bad I have just been blubbing down the phone to my OH.
    Anyway, hope your MW is nicer about it ( really hoping that I dont get that one of the team at my birth now.)

  • mrsrc thats terrible, sorry to hear she was so negative. At this stage i think we all need a bit of tlc from our midwives and a bit of understanding.

    I think my surgery must be the one of the only ones that do a planned sweep at 40 weeks (i`ll actually be 39+6 all going to plan). Ive read loads of women on here who dont get one until 41 weeks. I think im just going to go prepared for her not to do one, that way i cant get my hopes dashed. even if she does do one, theres certainly no guarantees so im trying not to rely on a sweep working but its so hard isnt it? Cant believe im actually wanting someone to examine me "down there" and most likely cause me quite a bit of discomfort!

    At this stage i think we`re all just a bit sick and want to get on with the next stage. Hope your not feeling too down after that conversation

  • nope if babies not engaged or she cant feel babies head through the cervix she cant/shouldnt purely due 2 risk of cord coming 1st, i was supposed 2 be sweeped at 37 weeks but baby wasnt even at the brim so spent a week getting her down an come 38weeks she wasnt exactly fully engaged but doc could feel the head through cervix an it was less wobbly so i had my 1st of many then,

    good luck



  • Katy when i had my son 2 years ago they refused to sweep me at 41weeks as he wasn't engaged atall and they said all that would happen is my waters may break but baby wouldn't be in right position for labour.

    good sign your baby is beginning to engage though and i hope hear they have arrived soon x x
  • Katy when i had my son 2 years ago they refused to sweep me at 41weeks as he wasn't engaged atall and they said all that would happen is my waters may break but baby wouldn't be in right position for labour.

    good sign your baby is beginning to engage though and i hope hear they have arrived soon x x
  • Thanks ladies, its really helpful to hear all of your experiences. I am hoping that a) midwife will sweep me and b) of course that it works!

    If not i get another sweep at 41 weeks at home and then booked in for induction.

    I appreciate though if head is free she wont give me a sweep which is sensible and fully understandable. What would be really nice is if he came before next monday, then i wouldnt need any kind of sweep!

    thanks again
  • My mw was giving them to me at 37 weeks when I was expecting Theo!
  • Currently 39 weeks prego. My mw said she would sweep me, but i only have this week to have the baby as the next 2 weeks my family and in-laws will be gone. If it doesn't start labor in 24 hours, Will she break my water? I am currently 75% effaced, 2cm and -4 station...

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