Breast Pump to Induce Labor: Does it Work?

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Usually, labor starts around 40 weeks of pregnancy. A woman starts experiencing labor pain as expected due date comes near. During labor, the belly feels enormous just like an overripe melon. But sometimes even the 40th week got passed still labor didn’t start. Such a condition is a matter of concern. Longer gestation could be a sign of any abnormality. Thus to avoid it, it is better to induce labor artificially like with spicy foods or a breast pump.

In this article:

Induction of Labor with the Breast Pump
How Does Breast Pump Work?
Nipple Stimulation and Labor
Is it Safe to Induce Labor with a Breast Pump?
Time of Induction of Labor
Other Natural Ways of Induction of Labor

All You Need to Know About Using Breast Pump to Induce Labor

Induction of Labor with the Breast Pump

It is found that the use of the breast pump starts labor contractions in the full-term pregnant women or in those women who had passed their due dates. The theory on which breast pump work is nipple stimulation increases the levels of oxytocin, a hormone required for induction of labor. Oxytocin helps in the relaxation of the body and contraction of the uterus. It is a beneficial method of inducing labor in low-risk pregnancy i.e. in healthy pregnancy but should be avoided in high-risk pregnancy.

breast pump to induce labor

How Does Breast Pump Work?

Before initiation of nipple stimulation, it is important to consult the doctor as this technique is usually performed at home therefore it is important to inform the doctor. Nipple stimulation should only be done when the cervix is already dilated or else there is a risk of premature delivery. Follow steps should be performed with care :

  • Complete sterilization of breast pump before its use.
  • Placing warm washcloth on both the breast
  • Once, the pregnant woman is ready, one washcloth is removed from the breast and then the breast pump is attached.
  • Turn on the breast pump if it is electrical or start pumping with hands
  • Pumping should be done for almost 15 minutes before switching it to another breast. The application of a warm washcloth on the breast is important during this switch.

This technique should be used continuously for 15 minutes on each breast until the pregnant woman experiences strong regular contractions. If the contractions do not initiate within one hour then it is advised to stop and should be tried again the next day.

Once the contractions are felt, nipple stimulation should be stopped to let the body go in labor on its own. If contractions cease pump should be reattached and stimulation should be done for five minutes per side.

Stimulation should be continued until a contraction starts.

Nipple Stimulation and Labor

Manual stimulation of nipples is helpful but the use of the breast pump is more beneficial. When compared with synthetic oxytocin, breast pumps are better for the induction of labor. The breast pump is effective in increasing the oxytocin naturally. Sometimes nipple stimulation should be performed for multiple days to increase the levels of oxytocin.

Is it Safe to Induce Labor with a Breast Pump?

Generally, it is considered safe to induce labor with the help of nipple stimulation. But it is always advised to go for this technique when the pregnant woman has passed her due date. Early nipple stimulation can lead to premature delivery. In premature delivery ( if delivery happens within 37 weeks) newborn may develop and suffer from temporary problems such as

  • Jaundice
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficult feeding
  • Inability to maintain body temperature

In later life these newborns may face growth developmental problems.

Time of Induction of Labor

Induction of labor is a risky process. Thus, it is important to consult the doctor to assess the situation and take care of the health of the pregnant woman along with the safety of the delivery of the baby. It is recommended to go for induction of labor if the pregnant woman suffers from high blood pressure or diabetes or the levels of amniotic fluid around the fetus are not sufficient.

Also if the pregnant woman is two weeks past her due date because it has been observed after 42 weeks levels of amniotic fluid decrease in the womb and this risks baby to be larger than the average.

Other Natural Ways of Induction of Labor

Following are natural ways considered for induction of labor

Exercise : It is considered to increase the heart rate by relieving the stress and keeping the body strong enough to deliver the baby.

Sex: It helps in the release of oxytocin which will initiate contractions. But if the water has broken , having sex is not safe.

Acupuncture: It helps in the release of oxytocin.

Membrane Stripping: It has to be performed by the doctor. This technique helps in the release of prostaglandins, the hormone which helps to induce labor.

Spicy Food: Studies suggest eating spicy food can induce labor.

Conclusion

Before trying the breast pump for induction of labor it is advised to consult a doctor to avoid any type of pregnancy related complication. The breast pump is a safe technique until it is performed properly at the right time.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3959016

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5813971/

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