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Castor Oil to Induce Labor: Is It Safe?

castor oil to induce labor

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The most widespread use of castor oil is treating constipation. The oil is a natural laxative as it stimulates the digestive activity and bowel movements. Due to this effect the use of castor oil to induce labor has been known for a long time, especially in cases of post-term mothers. However, castor oil for labor causes a lot of debates in the medical circles and future mothers often ask: “Does castor oil induce labor? Is castor oil safe to induce labor?”.

Mechanism of castor oil to induce labor

Castor oil is rich in the ricinoleic acid. It has nearly 90% of this acid according to Wikipedia. The ricinoleic acid influences prostaglandin receptors EP3 and EP4 in the intestine. These receptors have several functions in the intestines, one of them is irritation of the smooth muscles. After castor oil is taken, the ricinoleic acid stimulates the intestines and its muscles contract. After that the uterus muscles also contract and this may induce labor. Castor oil also causes diarrhea within 4-6 hours after its intake. Soon contractions start and labor is induced.  The other version is that castor oil leads to dehydration that induces labor.

 

SEE ALSO:  All Castor Oil Uses

How much castor oil to induce labor

Post-term women often inquire how much castor oil to take to induce labor. The dosage depends on every person and it is better not to consume the oil without doctor’s recommendations. The dose starts from 2 teaspoons to several ounces. As castor.org states there was a study carried out on 100 women. 58% of post-term moms started labor after taking 60 ml of castor oil to induce labor. Those women who didn’t take castor oil started labor only in 4 cases. Other researches show no guarantee of inducing labor after castor oil intake.

Castor oil is not of very pleasant taste and odor. Women prefer drinking castor oil with juice. When the amount of the oil is large it is easier to take it in one drought and then drink some pleasant liquid to wash down the aftertaste. Castor oil is recommended to consume with something cold as it works better then.

 

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Disadvantages

Castor oil is no longer recommended by doctor for inducing labor. There are modern medications for this aim. The disadvantages of castor oil to induce labor are:

  • Dehydration. The oil causes excessive dehydration. The intake of liquid is often not allowed in hospitals and dehydration can be a problem for women.
  • Meconium passing. There is a possibility that castor oil will stimulate the passing of meconium in future baby and it will enter the lungs.
  • Castor oil may induce side effects in women before they go into labor. They experience nausea, vomiting and gastrointestinal disorders.

In any case, castor oil can be taken only after 40 weeks of pregnancy. Sometimes babies are born at 42 weeks. Consult your doctor of your want to induce labor by yourself.