Your feet and ankles are swollen and pulsating, you’re tired of needing to pee twenty times a day, and you’ve been craving sushi for months.
You’re ready for this little bean of yours which has transformed into what feels like a Butterball turkey to make her grand entrance into this world, but she’s clearly comfortable where she is and has no intention of leaving her cozy suite.
The doctor or midwife tells you to “wait it out”, but you’re saying “screw it!” and are seeking alternative solutions, like castor oil.
Does using castor oil to induce labor really work?
Table Of Contents
First Up: Sounds Gross, Tell Me More
Castor oil is a substance which is produced when the ripe seeds of a castor plant are pressed.
It has been used by many different cultures for many different reasons.
Some of the most common (and often unfounded) health woes castor oil has been used to treat include:
- Birth control (interestingly enough, there is some evidence that a shot of this stuff can work as a contraceptive for as long as a year – but we wouldn’t recommend it)
Here’s the good news: if you’re feeling a bit “plugged up”, as anyone who has ever taken castor oil will tell you, it is a fantastic laxative (in fact, it’s a bit too good).
Should you ever have a difficult time pooping, castor oil is your buddy.
Just be prepared to be camping out by the porcelain “gardyloo” for a while.
Be Honest, Does Castor Oil Induce Labor?
If you’re on the hunt for a natural and harmless way (at least for the baby…) to induce labor, then there is a chance that swallowing a dose of castor oil may induce labor.
Evidence has shown castor oil does have the ability to stimulate the uterus of full-term pregnant women (that’s anywhere from the 37-week mark and beyond).
One small study showed that a single dose of 60mL of castor oil got the labor process rolling for 57% of pregnant mums who tried it.
WebMD also states that there is “some” evidence that women who are at term and whose water has already broken are more likely to go into labor and are able to avoid a Cesarean section if they just take a sip of this goo.
Apart From Pooping, Are There Any Side Effects?
Let us be absolutely clear here: castor oil will not only make most people poop, but it can also result in violent and explosive diarrhea which, on the one hand, is not the state you want to be in upon entering the delivery room.
On the plus side, getting it all out of your system may prevent you from pooping during the “push-push-breathe” part of labor.
Your call on this one.
Castor oil is also not the most pleasant thing you will swallow.
Think of it as drinking Vaseline or petroleum jelly that has spent a bit of time in the sun.
Then there are the other potential side effects including:
- Stomach discomfort
Did we mention violent diarrhea?
Healthy Ways To Induce Labor
The majority of mums have been there: the weeks are dwindling, the discomfort is increasing and the excitement is almost unbearable.
If you’re looking for alternative and healthy ways to potentially induce labor without having to swallow a mouthful of “yuck”, consider these:
For those who are brave enough to be stuck with 20+ needles, this may be your best best.
Asian countries have been using acupuncture for centuries to get the labor juices flowing.
One small study conducted by the University of North Carolina found that soon-to-be moms who received acupuncture (between 39.5 to 40 weeks pregnant) were more likely to go into labor without any medical help (70%).
This is in comparison to mums who receive standard care where the success rate was only 50%
Much debated (not by your partner, of course) but still, there may be some truth that sex (particularly the sperm that helped get you here in the first place) can help induce labor.
The thought is that the prostaglandins which are contained in your lovers’ baby batter can help stimulate the cervix, which may then lead to contractions.
But let’s be real here, ladies.
After bubsy-wubsy arrives, you medically should not engage in vaginal intercourse for 4 to 6 weeks at least anyway.
Consider letting him get in some last minute fun while he can.
#3. Evening Primrose Oil
As fancy as this stuff sounds, you can find it on the shelf of any wellness store and some well-stocked markets.
The reason: the substances contained within this rather mythical-sounding liquid turns into prostaglandins when inside of our bodies.
It can soften up that cervix the same way sperm does – but without the sex!
The Rundown On Castor Oil
Castor oil can work if you are close enough to labor (and by close, we mean clooose).
The primary issue with castor oil is that is can cause diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration, which is not good when in labor.
- Speak with your doctor/midwife about castor oil and follow their recommendations
- Consider alternatives which won’t leave you sitting by the crapper
- No woman has given birth to a 44+ week baby. The end is near!
Ask and share with us how you handled those last few weeks and if castor oil worked for you.