When to start

We’ve put this first, because it’s the earliest point that you might start pumping. It’s also a really common question asked in forums.

Will pumping induce labor?

Historically, we also know that breast stimulation has been used across cultures and centuries to induce labour[5].

But we don’t know exactly how it works. We do know that stimulating the nipple and breast causes the womb to contract, possibly due to increased levels of oxytocin.

Should I pump to induce labor?

Hmmm…. not without clinical advice and supervision. This is definitely one for your health professional to give you advice for, because it depends on how your pregnancy and labor is going.

A Cochrane review (which is a review of a series of research studies on a particular topic), looked at six trials following 719 women, to try to evaluate whether breast stimulation would be associated with women going into labour within 72 hours, compared with giving oxytocin or doing nothing. They found insufficient research to really evaluate the safety of breast stimulation, and that nipple stimulation should not be used for women with high-risk pregnancies and labors[6].

If I pump to induce labor, what schedule should I follow?

When it comes to how they stimulated the nipple for these studies, most just had the woman stimulate her own nipple with instructions and supervision from the midwife or clinician.

One study did look at using an electric breast pump[7]. For that study, the women were already admitted to the labor suite. They set the breast pumps to 250 mm HG (which depending on your pump is different, but is probably in the upper levels of your settings), and pumped for 15 minutes per breast until uterine contractions reached a certain level.

For the studies not using electric pumps, they had different methods for stimulating the breast for women at term, which ranged from one hour, 1-3 times per day, alternating breasts every 10 to 15 minutes.

Again, this is something that should really only be done under advice and supervision from your birth team.


When to start pumping

  • Diagram of when people start pumping
  • Pumping to induce labour
    • Will a pump induce labour?
  • pumping colostrum
    • When do women ‘start’ to express colostrum? While breastfeeding a newborn / after 6 weeks / returning to work
    • Will a breast pump work for colostrum
    • can i pump colostrum
    • can you breast pump colostrum
    • can you pump colostrum
    • can you pump colostrum after birth
    • can you pump colostrum before birth
    • how much colostrum can you pump
    • how often can you pump colostrum
    • Interestingly, one study where 11 women were expressing colostrum, in the first 48 hours after birth, found that the women reported no pain more often than if they had hand expressed[8].
  • pumping - when to start
  • When use breast pump
  • When to breast pump
  • When pump breast milk for storage