Are you headed to the end of your pregnancy and feeling ready to meet your baby? Many pregnant find the final weeks and days of pregnancy difficult because they are uncomfortable and anxious to see their babies face-to-face. So, they start looking for ways to speed things up such a pumping to induce labor.
At the end of my pregnancies, I was willing to try anything (safe) to get my baby out of the womb and into my arms. You are not alone in feeling this way! Let’s look at some of the reasons why nipple stimulation is a good choice to induce labor.
The History of Nipple Stimulation
Nipple stimulation to induce labor has been around for centuries. It has been regularly used by midwives over time to help speed up labor or assist during stalled labor. For women seeking drug-free births, this is a technique midwives use as well.
Today, many women use this technique to induce labor. But, with the added technology of a breast pump, it is even easier. In fact, there are multiple research studies that have been done or are being done on this topic alone.
Why It Works
Nipple stimulation seems to speed up labor because it helps the body release oxytocin, which is the hormone that causes contractions. When using a pump to stimulate the nipples, it may lead to uterine contractions which will help speed up labor.
Additionally, oxytocin is also what causes milk production and release. After the birth, the oxytocin from breastfeeding helps the uterus return to the right size.
When It Should Be Done
You should wait to try to induce labor until you are at least 39 weeks pregnant. It is even better to wait until you are several days past your expected due date. Additionally, pumping to induce labor may be done when you are experiencing mild cramping or have stalled in labor.
When It Should Not Be Done
Recent studies have found that nipple stimulation should not be done by any woman with a high-risk pregnancy. In addition to high risk pregnancies being carefully monitored, nipple stimulation may have serious side effects.
For instance, Amy Katherine writes, “Nipple stimulation can result in uterine hyper-stimulation—contractions that are too frequent or prolonged, and which can lead to fetal distress.” For mothers who are high-risk, this technique should be avoided.
How to Do It
If you are far enough along in your pregnancy and you are not high risk, you should speak with your health provider to see if this technique is advised. If so, there are some very basic steps.
- Locate your breast pump
- Pump one breast for 15 minutes.
- Pump your other breast for 15 minutes.
- Repeat steps 2-5
If you do not have a breast pump, you may manually stimulate your nipples – or ask your partner to help. You may also check out this video from eHow Health.
But What About Colostrum?
Now, some moms get very worried and nervous about doing anything that may sabotage their precious colostrum. This is because they know colostrum is important for their babies. As Jan Barger, a lactation consultant, explains, “Some people refer to colostrum as "high octane" milk. It's full of antibodies and immunoglobulins, which not only help protect newborns as they come into our world of bacteria and viruses, but also has a laxative effect that helps them expel the tarry first stools called meconium.”
However, moms should not worry about nipple stimulation affecting their colostrum. This is because your body will not actually go through the changes needed to produce milk until after birth. Then, it still takes 2-10 days for your milk to come in.
Once your child is born and you begin breastfeeding, be sure to read Is Your Baby Falling Asleep While Breastfeeding for some helpful tips.
Other Ways to Induce Labor
If nipple stimulation is not for you, there are several other natural ways to induce labor. If you are tired of being pregnant and have reached 39 weeks, then consider some of these other ways to speed things along:
- Take long walks
- Eat spicy food
- Have sex (Orgasm releases more oxytocin than nipple stimulation)
- Consider acupuncture
- Try evening primrose oil
- Try castor oil
While you may be anxious to have your pregnancy complete, you do want to be sure you are making safe choices for your baby and yourself.
To Wrap Up
Can’t wait for your baby to arrive and thinking of pumping to induce labor? It is possible as studies show women who used a breast pump went into labor quicker than peers and had the shortest duration of each stage of pregnancy.
While nipple stimulation has been used by midwives for centuries, this technique should only be done if approved by your doctor. You should be careful to concentrate on one breast at a time and then take rest breaks to avoid contractions that are too fast and dangerous.
What other labor induction methods have you heard of? Let me know in the comments!