When you’ve watched your due date come and go and spicy dinners aren’t doing the trick it might be time to try a more scientific approach to bring on baby and kick start labour.
Nipple stimulation is one of the easiest and, let’s face it, more pleasant ways to naturally induce labour. After checking with your doctor that you’re good to go (nipple stimulation isn’t recommended for expecting mums with a high-risk pregnancy), it’s time to get down to business.
Here’s what you need to know about how to stimulate your nipples to induce labour.
Why nipple stimulation induces labour
There are a huge amount of ways to bring on labour, including eating certain foods, having sex and professional massages, however, most are based on old-wives tales rather than hard evidence. But when it comes to nipple stimulation for labour induction, there have been scientific studies with positive results.
Senior midwife Kathy Fray told Mum’s Grapevine that stimulating nipples helps the body release oxytocin.”Oxytocin is the hormone that causes uterine contractions, so yes if the woman is ‘ready’ to go into labour (she’s over 37-weeks and has a ripe soft cervix), nipple stimulation may stimulate contractions.”
How to stimulate nipples for labour
According to Healthline there are just three easy steps to using nipple stimulation to induce labour.
Step one: Nipple stimulation to bring on labour is all about imitating a baby breastfeeding. So the first step is to mimic this using what you have available. Use a breast pump on a gentle suction, your own fingers or the most fun way – your partner’s mouth!
Step two: Now it’s time to move your focus to the area surrounding your nipples, the areola. Use your fingers or the palm of your hand to gently rub or massage the areola.
Step three: Take your time and focus on stimulating just one nipple at a time. Women’s & Newborn Health at Westmead Hospital recommends stimulating the nipples for five minutes per hour throughout the day and night. It may take a few days to trigger enough oxytocin to bring on labour.
Does nipple stimulation work?
According to science, it has been proven to work. But only when your body is truly ready.
“If the woman’s body is not ready to go into labour, then in my experience it could do not a lot,” explains Kathy. “The more common time we use nipple stimulation is during labour if the contractions start to peter off a little, and nipple stimulation can help them to increase strength, length and frequency. After the baby has been born, it can also be used to stimulate the uterus to expel the placenta.”
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