Nipple stimulation is sometimes used to naturally induce labour, speed up pre-labour and help the uterus contract back down after the birth. Nipple stimulation can also be used during labour to strengthen contractions.
Nipple stimulation may be advised for labouring women who find that their contractions have slowed or stopped. Nipple stimulation can cause contractions to become more effective by making them stronger and longer.
How Does Nipple Stimulation Work?
Nipple stimulation should mimic the motion of a suckling newborn. When your nipples are stimulated in this way, the hormone oxytocin is released into your body. Oxytocin is the hormone responsible for uterine contractions during labour.
How To Do Nipple Stimulation
1. Only stimulate one nipple at a time.
2. Use your thumb and forefinger to gently roll roll your nipple.
3. Start with your thumb and forefinger at the areola, and gently pull down over the nipple. This should cause the nipple to become erect. This can be achieved orally be licking (or gently sucking) the nipple. If using a breast pump, pump until the nipple is erect.
4. Continue to stimulate the nipple for about a minute once it is erect.
5. Take a break for 2-4 minutes.
6. Then repeat the above steps on your other nipple.
7. After you have waited another 2-4 minutes, repeat on the original nipples. Repeat this process.
Nipple stimulation can be achieved by hand, orally or using a pump. You can stimulate your own nipples, or ask your partner to do it during labour. If you are breastfeeding an existing child, each feed will stimulate the nipples in the same way.
If your nipples feel sore and tender, you may find that lubrication helps to ease the discomfort of nipple stimulation. A natural nipple butter, coconut oil or a few drops of breast milk will work well as lubrication.