If your baby is only a couple of days late, there is no reason for worry. But if your baby is more than ten or 12 days late, the risk of stillbirth starts getting higher – though it is still low. Doctors are unsure of the reason for this but one thought is that the placenta might not be working as well as it used to.
The first thing you may be offered is a membrane sweep. The membrane sweep makes it more likely that you will go into labour naturally and won’t need to have your labour induced.
The membrane sweep usually happens wherever you normally see your midwife rather than in a hospital. It does not take long. It is a bit like an internal examination. The midwife puts a finger inside your vagina and reaches the cervix. She makes a circular, or sweeping, movement with her fingers. The point of it is to separate the sac surrounding your baby from the cervix.
Doing a sweep helps to release natural hormones that stimulate contractions so it may get labour started. You can have more than one sweep.
There is a 50 percent chance that a sweep will start your labour within 24 hours but if it doesn't you may be offered a date for induction. If you prefer, you can ask to have one or more extra sweeps before making a decision about induction.
A membrane sweep can be uncomfortable for some women and there may be some vaginal bleeding afterwards.
- NICE (2008) Clinical Guideline 70: Induction of labourhttp://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg70/resources/guidance-induction-of-labour-pdf
- NICE (2008) information for public, Induction of labour:http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg70/ifp/chapter/before-you-are-offered-induction
At the end of your pregnancy, you may have some signs that your baby will arrive very soon, even though you may not go into labour for a little while yet.
The moment has arrived. Your contractions are regular and building up, and your baby is really on his or her way…
Typical signs that your body is getting ready for labour.
The waiting game. It can be torturous. Your due date has been and gone, you feel the size of the Mothership and you’re oh so tired of waddling to the loo every five minutes.
This is a common worry for first-time mums, but once labour really gets going you'll definitely know.
ℹLast reviewed on April 1st, 2015. Next review date April 1st, 2018.