Miss Jyve’s birth story (1) – The Sweep of Non-Consent

I’ve wanted to write this post for months now, but each time I’ve picked the laptop up, Miss Jyve stirs; and I am now typing this out while breastfeeding her on the other arm – talk about Multi-tasking Mom Power!

So 40 weeks came and went, and we were still waiting on Miss Jyve’s arrival. I knew that it was just round the corner with The Pregnancy Waddle, the increasing weight bearing down, the increasing downward pressure which felt like her head was right ‘there’, and the increasing stabby pains on the cervix each time she shifted and bounced on it. (Oh the joys of pregnancy!)

Would she be a June or July baby? I wondered.

For a bit of a background, we’d decided to work with a doula on having the natural, drug-free water birth that I wanted, using hypnobirthing techniques.

40 weeks + 0, Sunday, Cervical sweep

I scheduled a doctor’s appointment at the 40-week mark (Sunday) and was informed that I was 2 cm dilated. On hindsight, I should have rejected the ‘check’, because the A-hole of a stand-in doctor decided he would use it as a guise of sorts to perform a cervical sweep without my consent. My chosen gynae was in the midst of sorting her visa status out.

It hurt – quite a lot in fact, as it’s a manual act of separating the membrane from your uterus, and I was incensed as this was the exchange while the ‘check’ took place:

Me: *Squirming in discomfort and slight pain, then arghhhouch! Thinking it was normal as I was familiar with the stabby cervical pains during the pregnancy.

Doc: Are you feeling discomfort?

Me: Well, yes, it’s actually quite painful.

Doc (sneering): What? You are going to deliver a baby soon. You do know that, right…? Well, anyway, that’s called a cervical sweep…

Me: NOo! What?!

I would have jumped up and slapped him had I not been lying spread-eagle with the hand of this horrible man up me.

I was incensed. Like I should mind and feel ashamed to deem that ‘little procedure’ painful, the way he behaved like it was his every right to perform a medical procedure without a patient’s consent, nor even thought of informing her prior. It is still difficult for me to come to terms with what a horrible feeling it was as it literally felt like I was sexually assaulted.

I was so worried and kept reading about the effects of sweeps on the labour process. I had long ago made up my mind and STRONGLY BELIEVED that my baby would arrive when she was ready, and I had no right to find ways to get her out unless there were serious medical concerns.

Through my research, there are apparently no proven results for inducing labour but sweeps are still routinely performed by obstetricians around the world – shocking, go figure. While some articles say contractions may start within 24-72 hours. I say, the baby will arrive when he/she is ready, with or without sweeps, pineapples, old wives’ tales, foot reflexology or acupuncture!

If you are still unconvinced that messing around with the labour process i.e. inducing might be a bad idea, read on.

40 weeks + 1, Monday

Since I was past 40 weeks, I threw all caution to the wind and went for a mani-pedi, foot, head, neck and shoulder massage to ease some of the tension from waiting for Miss Jyve’s arrival. The therapists were worried I might have the baby right in the salon while I thought: I’ll not be able to do this for quite a while after the baby arrives (rightly so, writing this more than 3 months postpartum), so I just enjoyed the session for all it was worth.

Had been losing bits of my mucus plug in the last couple of days, told my doula about it, but she wasn’t concerned. I was in early labour, she said.

40 weeks + 2, Tuesday

Mild contractions started in the morning, so the husband stayed home from work.

Some messages exchanged with my doula that day, but we decided that I was still coping fine, and I didn’t want to trouble her until it was absolutely necessary – don’t want to exhaust all support systems till showtime! The contractions were still irregular, and still manageable.

Went to bed with contractions, with some waking me up throughout the night, did not sleep well at all.


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