Use of Castor Oil to Induce Labor


Castor oil has been used for quite awhile now to ease constipation or facilitate vomiting when it is required, such as in the case of accidental swallowing of dangerous substances. However, the use of castor oil to induce labor is an alternative use for castor oil, one which is somewhat controversial as to its true effectiveness. Both midwives and doctors have used it for that purpose in years past, but the numbers of practitioners who still suggest to use castor oil to induce labor to women whom have exceeded their 40 week pregnancy term has dwindled recently, due to the advent of more modern medical interventions, such as pitocin.

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How To Use Castor Oil to Induce Labor

Castor Oil to Induce LaborCastor oil is a vegetable oil derived from the castor bean. It is, in essence, a laxative. It stimulates the bowels, thereby causing tightening and cramping of the intestinal muscles. The castor oil induced cramps eventually reach the uterus, where they stimulate contractions by tightening up the muscles within the uterus. One study performed found that 57% of women who ingested castor oil went into labor within 24 hours, while another study with similar test factors stated that the use of castor oil to induce labor had no effect on women who had exceeded their 40 week term.

How much Castor Oil is needed to Induce Labor

Castor oil has a very unpleasant taste and texture, so the mere thought of drinking it in any amount may be enough to make one ill. However, most midwives and nurse practitioners recommend using about 2 ounces in order to see results. Most women find it too unpalatable to drink straight, so there a number of recipes that have been put forth over the years to mask its taste. One such recipe for the use of castor oil to induce labor suggests mixing it with orange juice and baking soda, while yet another recommends blending it with milk and ice cream to make shake.

Castor Oil to Induce Labor – When You Can Expect it to Work.

Some pregnant women claim to begin feeling the effects just a couple of hours after ingesting the castor oil to induce labor, while others feel not effect whatsoever for days afterward. There are some accounts of babies being born within hours of their mother’s taking castor oil, though there are no concrete statistics to prove this. Most nurses, midwives, and doctors believe that the use of castor oil can help to ripen the cervix, due to the cramping associated with the diarrhea it causes.

Can Castor Oil be Dangerous for Pregnant Women? Taking castor oil to induce labor can be harmful to the expectant mother. Here are the possible side effects:

  • Fetal Distress. Castor oil has the ability to trigger labor before the baby is ready to be born. If ingested too early, it can lead to premature births and babies who are born with underdeveloped immune and anatomical systems.
  • Meconium in the baby. The expectant mother lacks sufficient bodily fluid, therefore the baby may pass their first stool, or meconium, into the amniotic fluid, which can lead to the baby contracting a serious illness.
  • Dehydration. Excessive diarrhea and nausea caused by castor oil has the possibility of dehydrating the mother. This poses a particularly large risk, due to the fact that most hospitals do not allow mothers to drink any fluids while in labor. This leads to further aggravation of the uterus and extreme fatigue.

Castor Oil to Induce Labor May Not Work for Everyone.

Use Maternity Acupressure to induce your laborIf you decide to drink castor oil to induce labor, you may be putting you or your baby at risk without a guarantee of it actually working. Under no circumstances should you use castor oil if you have not reached full term, as this can lead to a variety of problems. For castor oil to be effective, ideally, your cervix should already be ripened. The possibility of actually going into labor will increase if you’ve already begun to dilate and efface. Those who are experiencing a high risk pregnancy should not attempt to use castor oil to induce labor, as it can further complicate things. Also, it’s imperative that you ask a medical professional before ingesting castor oil, just to be safe.

If You Decide Castor Oil to Induce Labor l Isn’t For You.

There are other alternatives to using castor oil if you’re due date has come and gone, and you would like to induce labor naturally. Here are just a few options:

  • Stretch and Sweep of the Membranes. Your doctor, midwife, or nurse practitioner inserts their finger into the uterus and gently sweeps amniotic sac away from the uterus. It can, in some cases, be painful, but has been proven to induce labor within days or even hours within some pregnant women.
  • Eating Spicy Foods. This has somewhat the same effect as castor oil, in that it triggers the digestive system, thereby relying on the cramping method to cause uterine contractions. This option is also hit or miss, however, and may only result in an upset stomach.
  • Raspberry Leaf Tea. This alternative to inducing labor with castor oil should be started at around the 34th week of pregnancy. If it falls short of doing the trick, then you will at least get the added benefit of it strengthening your uterus to get it ready for labor when it does finally start.
  • Massage and Reflexology. There are several pressure points on a pregnant woman’s body which, when pushed in tandem and for a certain period of time, can induce labor naturally. It has been known to work days after the actual technique is performed for some women, and simply just relax others.

It has not been clinically proven that it is effective to utilize castor oil to induce labor, nor has been guaranteed as being safe for mother or child. The simple truth is that you should ask your doctor or midwife to decide what’s best for your particular situation, even if you’re frustrated and tired of being more than 40 weeks pregnant. After all, there’s a reason why the age old saying is still used today…it’s always better to be safe than sorry.