Disclaimer: Please do not try nipple stimulation before 40 weeks and without talking to your care provider first.
Nipple stimulation is one of the most common ways for women to try and start labor or keep a good labor pattern going.
Because it is easy to do, discrete, and does not require any extra equipment or monitoring it is a good choice for many. There is some debate on the best way to do nipple stimulation for the best results so I am going to break it down for you.
A Warm Shower
Sometimes a warm shower is just what the doctor ordered. The warm water running over your nipples can sometimes be enough to really kick in those contractions. This is an especially desirable method if you have sensitive nipples. The shower is also a great way to relax your body which will lead to more productive contractions.
This can be done in a sexual way with your partner. Rolling, licking, and stroking are great ways to stimulate your nipples while using this time to connect on a deep level with your loved one. By spending intimate time with your partner while the oxytocin is flowing you can strengthen your bond which will lead to more positive views of each other as parents.
Clinical Nipple Stimulation
This is defined as stimulation in a non-sexual manner. Your friend, partner, doula, or nurse can help you with this one. To do this technique you want to place your pointer finger and thumb around your areola and push in a little, then apply pressure (squeeze) and pull out. This is the same technique you use for hand expression of milk after the baby is born. This action mimics the babies sucking and is the most effective of the above techniques.
A breast pump is also an option to mimic the suckling of a newborn. Make sure that any method you choose is done under the care and approval of your nurse, OB, or Midwife.
What Pattern Should I Use?
Since nipple stimulation is still being studied, it is hard to give an exact “right” pattern. We have found that the below pattern is gentle enough for most women to use:
4 Minutes of stimulation then 4 minutes of rest for 30 minutes, followed by 30 minutes of rest. If you do not notice an increase of contractions after two hours, rest for an hour and try again.
Check out our blog on Natural Ways to Encourage Labor for more tips!
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