Studies, Risks, and Dosage for Inducing Labor With Castor Oil

Updated on April 23, 2018
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Susannah Birch is a certified birth doula and owner of Trimester Talk, a leading pregnancy website. She used castor oil in the 41st week.

How to induce labor with castor oil.
How to induce labor with castor oil.

Is It Safe to Use Castor Oil to Begin Labor?

Castor oil is a pale or yellow vegetable oil that's pressed from castor beans, and it can be found in most drug and health food stores. Although it has been used for centuries to treat a variety of health conditions and is most often taken orally as a liquid laxative, it is also a widely-used and effective way to start contractions after 40 weeks of pregnancy. According to Karly Nuttall, licensed midwife and hormone specialist who has helped deliver over 700 babies during her two decades of clinical experience,

Using castor oil to induce labor is simultaneously a good and bad idea. It's strong and often effective when no other non-chemical methods of induction work, but you pay the price in intestinal woes! My clients who have been brave enough [...] say they're glad they did it but would never do it again. [...] Because of that I only recommend it as a last resort [...] and I only recommend trying it after 41 weeks.

I am a certified birth doula and owner of Trimester Talk, a leading pregnancy website. During the 41st week of my own pregnancy, I decided to drink a little castor oil as a last-ditch effort to get things moving, and it worked. Below, you'll find all the research I conducted and the questions I found answers for in order to make my decision.

How Does Castor Oil Help Start Contractions?

When taken orally, there are three main ways castor oil works to induce labor:

  1. It induces contractions in the bowels, which in turn can cause the uterus to to begin contracting as well.
  2. It dehydrates the body, which can also cause contractions.
  3. Scientists have discovered that ricinoleic acid, a key component of castor oil, targets prostaglandin receptors on smooth muscle cells in the intestines and uterus to stimulate contractions.

The Meconium Debate: What Is the Biggest Risk of Taking Castor Oil to Induce Labor?

If you research castor oil induction thoroughly, you'll find that there are two camps:

  • Those who claim that taking castor oil may have the same laxative effect on the baby as it does on the mother. As such, using the oil to induce may increase the chance of meconium—the baby’s first stool—being passed during labor. This can potentially be harmful to the baby if it’s aspirated, or inhaled, into the lungs, potentially causing pneumonia or developmental delays.
  • The second camp claims that castor oil labor induction has no relation to passing meconium.

This is still an area of controversy, so you’ll want to talk to your doctor and look at the research yourself before you decide. But here are some facts that might help you make a decision:

  • Babies born postdate (40 weeks and over) have a higher chance of passing meconium in the womb because their bowels are more mature.
  • Babies born without using castor oil to induce labor can still pass meconium in the womb (at any gestation date).
  • Babies born with castor oil labor induction often do not pass meconium in the womb.
  • No well-documented study has linked meconium and castor oil labor induction or proven that (these types of) laxatives can pass through the placenta.
  • Approximately 57% of women who take castor oil after 40 weeks go into labor. However, this is a vague statistic and doesn't account how far along they were (how many weeks over 40 they were pregnant) or other conditions such as pre-labor or other forms of natural induction.

A tablespoon or two of castor oil should be enough to start contractions.
A tablespoon or two of castor oil should be enough to start contractions.

Other Possible Risks, Dangers, and Side-Effects of Using Castor Oil to Begin Contractions

Along with the possible risk of meconium, there are some other things to consider:

  • nausea: although you have a 57% of inducing labor, the chance that you will feel nauseous is almost 100%. A small number of women also vomit due to the strong effect of the oil.
  • intestinal discomfort: intestinal cramping and gas are the most common side-effects.
  • diarrhea: since it is a laxative, this is a very common side effect.
  • dehydration: diarrhea usually causes dehydration, so you'll need to make sure to drink lots of water.
  • pooping during labor: nobody wants to talk about this, but it's true. Pushing the baby out uses the same muscles as pushing out a bowel movement, so you can imagine what's likely to happen during labor if you have diarrhea. But the truth is that it is extremely common to have a bowel movement while pushing, it can't be avoided, and it happens to most women, whether or not they used castor oil to aid labor.
  • nothing: some women will not experience any effects or side-effects at all.

Approximately 57% of women who take castor oil after their due date go into labor within 24 hours.

What Do Doctors and Experts Say About Using Castor Oil to Start Labor?

Medical opinion on the subject varies widely. Some obstetricians and midwives regularly recommend the use of castor oil to induce labor once a woman passes 40 weeks, while others discourage or strongly warn against it.

Until the last few decades, castor oil and soap enemas were commonly used in hospitals to induce labor. However, doctors discovered other methods of induction that had higher success rates because they were more forceful on the body.

If you do have a high-risk pregnancy or are ill, it's a good idea to either seek medical advice or avoid castor oil as an induction method.

Below, you'll find links to several studies and publications.

Medical Studies, Publications, and Links About Castor Oil Induction

If you want to do more research on your own—which I recommend—you may want to start with some of the studies and publications listed here.

  • Castor Oil Increases Labor Onset. This study found that women were more likely to go into labor within 24 hours of taking castor oil.
  • Castor Oil Study On 600 Women. This study found that there was no big difference in the likelihood of going into labor between those who did or did not take the oil. However, the study also found no harm to the mother or infants, either.
  • Castor Oil Literature Review. This meta-analysis reviewed the biggest studies on castor oil inductions, offering an overview of the current research on the subject.
  • According to a 2012 research paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists have discovered that ricinoleic acid, a key component of castor oil, targets prostaglandin receptors on smooth muscle cells in the intestines and uterus to stimulate contractions.
  • On this subject, the well-known guide What to Expect When You're Expecting says this:

Hoping to sip your way into labor with a castor oil cocktail? Women have been passing down this yucky tasting tradition for generations on the theory that this powerful laxative will stimulate your bowels, which in turn will stimulate your uterus into contracting. The caveat for this one: Castor oil (even mixed with a more appetizing drink) can cause diarrhea, severe cramping and even vomiting. Before you chug-a-lug, be sure you're game to begin labor that way.

But Isn't Castor Oil Used for Abortion?

Some people argue against using castor oil because they've heard it’s an abortifacient, a substance that causes abortion. While this is true, it’s somewhat beside the point: abortion, induction, and the contractions experienced during labor all share the same basic goal: moving the baby out of the womb. Many medical induction aids, including Pitocin, are also commonly used both in abortion and in birth.

Before Inducing Labor With Castor Oil

  1. Try other natural ways to induce labor first. Other forms of natural induction (including nipple stimulation, evening primrose oil, exercise, and sex) can be a lot more pleasant and won't have as many potential side effects.
  2. Don’t try to induce contractions early, before 40 weeks. If your body is not ready to go into labor, it will not work and can cause complications. Unless you have a good reason (discomfort is not a good reason!), don't attempt this before 40 weeks. If you're facing medical induction, make sure you're aware that it's within your rights to refuse or ask for a later date.
  3. Only take it to induce. Do not take it as a way to speed up labor. Doing so can make birth even more painful.
  4. Do it at your own risk. Talk to your medical professional if in doubt.
  5. Don’t take too much castor oil. Never take more than 1-2 tablespoons (1 oz maximum, or approximately 30 ml) in a 24-hour period.
  6. Drink lots of water, as castor oil is a laxative and will dehdyrate you.

How Should I Take Castor Oil?

The short answer: You drink it. Some people drink it straight, while others prefer to mix it with something. Here are some suggestions:

  • Mix with juice or a strong-flavored drink to cover the taste or dilute the texture.
  • Take as a shot, and then chase it with something to remove the taste.
  • Drink slowly over ten minutes, either mixed or in small straight amounts.

There is some debate about how much castor oil should be used to induce labor.
There is some debate about how much castor oil should be used to induce labor.

How Much Castor Oil Do I Need to Induce Labor?

Many people recommend taking half a cup or more of castor oil. Personally, I'd only recommend taking 1-2 tablespoons at most. Take enough to let the oil do its job, but don't overdo it—in fact, taking too much can lead to severe dehydration.

What Does It Taste Like?

Castor oil is a thick liquid which some people do not like the taste of at all. Others say it is nearly tasteless. It is a thick, clear, oily liquid similar in taste and consistency to cooking oil. Some report a soapy taste as well.

What can I drink with castor oil?

If you need to, you can either mix or "chase" it with any kind of juice, tea, or liquid you'd normally drink. Have a tall glass of water on hand to wash it down.

How Fast Does It Work?

It can take anywhere from two to six hours for castor oil's effects to begin, and the effects can last from one to six hours. It can take from 5-24 hours for labor to begin, if it's going to, although labor does not start for approximately 43% of women who use it.


  • Make sure you have plenty of water available to keep you from being dehydrated.
  • Be close to a toilet.
  • Have your bags packed and ready to go to the hospital.

Mix the castor oil with other liquids to help it go down more easily.
Mix the castor oil with other liquids to help it go down more easily.

Benefits of Castor Oil Induction

  • You don't need to be dilated or effaced for it to work.
  • Although stronger than other natural induction methods, castor oil still will not put you into labor unless your body is ready—unlike a medical induction.
  • It's all-natural and plant-based. You can even buy it organic, if that's important to you.
  • You decide if you want to try it or not. Being in control of the if, when, how, and how much you use is a great comfort to many women.
  • It can clean out your system so that it's less likely you'll have "accidents" while pushing during labor, except if labor begins very quickly or was about to begin when you took the castor oil anyway.

My Experience

I decided to try castor oil as a last-ditch effort when I was at 41 weeks. I was scheduled for a medical induction at 41+3. According to the doctor just three days before, I was undilated, and the baby wasn't completely down in the birth canal.

I drank one tablespoon of castor oil at 3 p.m. in the afternoon. I was running to the toilet from approximately 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and then had no more side effects. I cleaned my house so I was ready, just in case, and at about 11:30 p.m., I decided that it was time for bed.

I lay down on the bed and immediately had my first contraction. This was followed by a second contraction two minutes later. We arrived at the hospital, and my baby girl was born four hours later, a healthy 8 pounds, 4 oz, with no complications. She had an almost perfect Apgar score of 9 followed by a 10.

In hindsight, I would not induce labor with castor oil again, because now I'm aware that I can refuse medical induction. However, I would still choose it instead of Pitocin in the event I needed it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much castor oil should I use?

You might have a powerful reaction, so it's smart to start small. Take a tablespoon or two and wait to see how your body responds. If nothing happens within 6 hours, you might consider taking a little more.

How fast does it work?

It usually takes at least two hours, but 7 at most, for the oil to work, if it's going to. It works for 57% of the women who use it after 40 weeks of gestation.

Is it safe to make yourself go into labor?

Women have been using various methods to prompt contractions since the beginning of time. Pitocin, a synthetic form of your body's oxytocin, is used in hospitals throughout the world to induce labor. It is always recommended that you wait until your baby is due before you try to give birth. Get an ultrasound to verify your due date.

Can I use castor oil if I'm 38 weeks pregnant?

It's important to let your baby grow at its own pace and let your body's natural cycles work. It is not recommended that you try to induce labor before 40 weeks. If you're hoping to use it as a laxative, not as a means of inducing labor, you should consider a different method. Talk to your doctor.

Can I use castor oil if I'm 39 weeks pregnant?

The last days of pregnancy can be very difficult and uncomfortable, and it's very hard to wait, but still, inducing labor before 40 weeks is not recommended.

What does castor oil do to the baby?

Although no reliable studies have been done, some believe that the oil might have the same laxative effect on the baby as it does on mom. If the baby passes meconium (their first stool) during labor, and if it’s inhaled into the baby's lungs, there can be complications. See "The Meconium Debate" above.

Does castor oil help dilation or effacement?

Although castor oil might promote the release of prostaglandin receptors and help trigger the cervix to dilate, there is no reliable evidence to support this fact. However, it often sets off contractions which, in turn, lead to dilation and effacement of the cervix.

Will using castor oil affect the mode of delivery? Does it influence whether the birth will be vaginal or via C-section?

There is a big and ongoing debate about whether inducing labor increases the risk of having a C-section. However, according to a recent metaanalysis conducted at Thomas Jefferson University and published in American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, induction at full term does not increase the risk of cesarean section. In studies of castor oil cited above, the rates of cesarean section vs. vaginal birth was not considered statistically different between the groups of women who induced with castor oil and those who did not. In addition, "The incidence of meconium-stained amniotic fluid, Apgar scores, and birth weights was similar in both groups."

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What Was Your Experience Like?

If you're going to try inducing with castor oil or have already, I'd love to receive a comment below with your experience.


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    • profile image

      Dian 2 months ago

      hello and good morning! with my midwives guidance and recommendation I'm trying Castor oil this morning after a good nights sleep and a good breakfast. the reason I'm doing it is I'm at 41.4 days and if I get to 42 weeks I won't be allowed to deliver at The Birth Center. I will keep you posted on the outcome!

    • profile image

      5th baby 3 months ago

      Hello I am thinking of trying castor oil when I'm 36 weeks. I've spoken to my doctor and she told me it's safe to take, but I am scared.This will be my fifth baby. All my other children were born before 38 weeks. I was induced with my second, third and forth baby. My first baby I went into preterm labour at 31 weeks. My forth baby was weighing at almost 10 pounds. Given my history should I try castor oil since its more natural than being medically induced?

    • profile image

      Ty 4 months ago

      I tried castor oil and it totally worked for me also. I took it around 10:50pm woke up with diarrhea at 4am. Contractions began at 5am I still had diarrhea so I stayed home until 7:15am. Was to the hospital by 7:20am when I got there I was 8cm dialated & had my adorable son at 9:39am.

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      Leah 5 months ago

      My due date was November 29th but I didn’t go into labor that day. I took castor oil December 1st around 5 p.m went into labor that day around 11p.m had her at 3 in the morning December 2. Yes it worked for me

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      Nika 6 months ago

      I'm 40 weeks tomorrow I took the castor oil last night around 10 p.m. it hasnt did anything for me but make me go to the bathroom constantly. No contractions or anything.

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      Julie 7 months ago

      I’m praying this will

      Work for my daughter, only time will see as we start too watch her face for contractions

    • profile image

      Nikianf 7 months ago

      I'm 36 weeks and 4 days, I was wondering because the baby is breech and only weighing at 5 pounds and doctors wants me to deliver by 38 weeks if I could take castor oil before they schedule my c section. I took it with my first and was 40 weeks but I just want to make sure it won't harm my baby if I take it with her being so small.

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      Lilias 8 months ago

      I used Castor oil to induce labor in 2008 and it worked for me! I drank the mix at 7p and had all the side effects until 9p, lost my mucous plug at 10p, labor started at 11p and my daughter was born at 2:35a (the doctor almost missed the delivery she didn't think it would happen so quickly)

      I may induce again with it but Im afraid because it makes your labor so much harder, painful and faster than going into labor on your own....

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      Anita Mehnaz 8 months ago

      It didn’t work for me !

    • profile image

      mbally 9 months ago

      i am 38 weeks and have used caster oil but i haven't go to the toilet or had any contrations

    • profile image

      Ash Belling 10 months ago


      3:36pm took oil

      Mild cramping started at 5:56pm (I need to poop. First washroom run lol)

      6:26pm major washroom run!!

      The most horrifying diarrhea of my entire LIFE!!!!!!! (I'll spare you the gory details)

      Used washroom for the third time around 8pm (nothing crazy like the last washroom visit!! Thank all things heavenly!)

      I've had some mild contractions or cramps in my lower abdomen, at times the pain would slowly increase staying in one area and other times the pain would move down to my vaginal area while increasing; the pain felt sharp but wasn't anything I couldn't tolerate.

      It's 10:49pm still feeling mild pains, I'm having a hard time identifying whether they are Braxton Hicks, diarrhea cramps, or first stage labor contractions... or, are Braxton Hicks and first stage contractions the same thing? I'm not sure. I am also not sure if this method will work for me, I'm beginning to feel like its not going to... guess I still have a few hours to find out. Off to bed now 10:55pm.

      BTW: I've been typing this into my phones note pad as its been happening, just in case you were wondering.

      11:28pm washroom run.


      1:21pm still pregnant..! bowl movements are back to normal, though i'm happy about that, not so happy about getting medically induced...

    • profile image

      Ash Belling 10 months ago

      I don't think my comment posted the first time I tried... I still haven't drank the castor oil, I am about to right now though @ 3:30pm.

      Today (08-19-2017) is the last day of my 39w. I am scheduled for induction this upcoming week, I've decided to try this castor oil method as a almost natural way to induce labor after trying other methods like eating pineapple, nipple stimulation, spicy foods, and walking; non of which worked or caused any contractions. I am 2 1/2 cm dilated from my last OB visit I'm not sure if I have dilated anymore but, I'm hoping this method works for me as it has for other moms.. I will be taking it today at 3pm. I'll post an update on how our experience goes, hopefully I get to greet my baby very soon!!!

    • profile image

      Ash Belling 10 months ago

      Today (08-19-2017) is the last day of my 39w. I am scheduled for induction this upcoming week, I've decided to try this castor oil method as a almost natural way to induce labor after trying other methods like eating pineapple, nipple stimulation, spicy foods, and walking; non of which worked or caused any contractions. I am 2 1/2 cm dilated from my last OB visit I'm not sure if I have dilated anymore but, I'm hoping this method works for me as it has for other moms.. I will be taking it today at 3pm. I'll post an update on how our experience goes, hopefully I get to greet my baby very soon!!!

    • profile image

      sarah oty 10 months ago

      pls i need ur advice, my due date was on monday 7 August 2017. today i'm + 3 days. my first baby was throw cs due to postdate. I dont want cs again. can i try castor oil? pls reply. tanx

    • profile image

      sally 10 months ago

      I really appreciate your detailed explanations on castor oil . But i have a question.i had my first baby in 2013 tro CS by 42wks+2 days. I am 38 weeks today and i want to have my baby vaginally this time. Everything is OK with me and my baby. Can I use castor oil before 40 weeks if labor does not come before then?

      Pls reply through Email: or phone 08031944307. thank you.

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      Nadya 10 months ago

      I tried castor oil at 41+4, I took 2 oz, followed by a 2-hour protocol with herbs, which included cotton root, blue and black cohosh, and some other homeopathic remedies, as was recommended by my midwife. I was 1-2 cm dilated with a slightly posterior cervix at the time. My first "run" took place 3 hours after taking the oil, with fairly strong contractions starting almost at the same time. The contractions were not severe, but fairly uncomfortable for about 4 hours with 2-5 minute intervals, with each contraction lasting 34 seconds to 1 minute, I had a couple at 2 minutes. After 4 hours everything went down hill. Contractions subsided first in intensity then in intervals. I took a walk.. That just killed everything completely. I did not have a baby that day nor the next. The results were obvious though. My plan is to try this again in 3 days.

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      Rachel Cairns 11 months ago

      I used castor oil to help induce labor with my fifth child. I was scheduled for induction for a second time and dreaded having pitocin again. They used pitocin for my previous four deliveries. They were worried about interuterine growth restriction so I was nervous about delaying again.

      I tried acupuncture and induction massage, while nice, neither induced labor. The night before the medical induction I took two teaspoons of castor oil at 12 am. At 4:30 am I awoke having a horrendous contraction, I also had diarrhea. Contractions continued. My family and I left for the hospital. My daughter was born at 8:15am after we flagged down an ambulance in bumper to bumber traffic and had them emergency escort us to the nearest hospital. Even though it was unconventional it was my best birth experience. I was even delivered by a midwife which I had always wanted. My husband walked through the door as our daughter was born and within half an hour they let all the children come back as well.

      I would definitely use castor oil again. It worked quickly yet within my body's tolerance. Pitocin always feels like it was forcing my body to do something it was not ready for, even when labor had already started.

      This was by far my shortest labor at 3 hrs 45 minutes. My other labors lasted anywhere from days to 12 hours.

      I would suggest taking a small amount first. I would not start with tablespooons!

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      Miranda Shelts 11 months ago

      38+1 today! I'm really waiting to see what my doc says tomorrow. I've been dilated 1cm on and off for about a month now. If I've closed back up, I'm definitely going to try the castor oil when I'm 39+4 days. I'm in a potentially dangerous situation as I have no friends of family to take me to the hospital if my husband is out in the field (supposed to be 26th-4th..due date is the 30th) and I go into labor naturally.

      I'm also TERRIFIED of being medically induced. I had no idea how bad it was until I started doing some research on it. No thank you! I would rather have one miserable day of vomiting and pooping with labor. Good luck to you all who are about to try this. Thank you so much for the detailed info!

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      Shyloh 11 months ago

      My mom used castor oil with all of her pregnancies and had all of us within 24 hours of taking it. I had an easy pregnancy with my daughter and didn't end up needing the castor oil for it but this pregnancy I'm going to take it tomorrow baby is measuring at 41 weeks and I will be 39 weeks tomorrow. Wish me luck

    • profile image

      Natasha Rodriguez 11 months ago

      Hello! First, thank you for sharing your story! I am currently 35 weeks 4 days pregnant and am scheduled to be induced at 39 weeks due to gestational diabetes. I have been told to drink castor oil to induce my own labor instead of Pitocin! I am so afraid of the Pitocin, I would rather induce myself. This is my first pregnancy and I want nothing more than to deliver a healthy baby girl. Any suggestions?

    • profile image

      Tonya 13 months ago

      Did u have take another dose of it or no?

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      Davianna 2 years ago

      I'm 38 weeks n 2. 1/2 cm 60% thin will it help out

    • profile image

      hafswa 2 years ago

      Am 34 weeks I want to use it am so tied I can't even sleep at night will it be ok

    • profile image

      Jess 2 years ago

      I tried with four ounces of Castor Oil, mixed up in a fruit smoothie, and drank it fairly quickly. Getting it down wasn't bad, and I didn't get sick. A few hours later I got pretty intense runs, and was very careful to drink a cup of water between every trip to the bathroom. I had some contractions about twelve hours later, but they only lasted about two hours, and then quit. No baby for me yet. I have very stubborn babies apparently.

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      Natalia 2 years ago

      Unfortunately I had negative experience with castor oil. I mixed 2dl of peach juice with 1,5 table spoon of castor oil. In two hours, the side effects started: strong diarrhea, vomiting, very strong cramps (difficult to identify if it was womb or intestines), subsequently blood in mucus from intestines. All lasted over 3 hours. It was the strogest, most painfull diarrhea I have ever had in my life and I am heading to doctor tomorrow morning. So far, I did not went to labor. I am in week 40+5, dilated on 2 fingers. I believe that it helped many women, but please be careful when using.

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      Heather 2 years ago

      Hi, I'm a doula and student midwife, and I would never recommend taking castor oil without some form of protein. Usually we mix it with peanut butter on toast or a cup of Greek yogurt. The protein helps reduce or even prevent diarrhea from the castor oil, as well as a lot of stomach discomfort. Juice does NOT do this, in fact it can increase your diarrhea. Just something you may want to add!

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      Cynthia Hoover 3 years ago from Newton, West Virginia

      Voted up useful and interesting! I went past my due date with my son. This would have been great to try!

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      jenn 3 years ago

      Hi im am 37 weeks in im dilated to a 3 almost a 4 is it safe for me to use castor oil

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      Angel 3 years ago

      Hey, I just read through all of these comments and I still have questions. I took 2 tsp. today around 6pm. Then by 7pm I got randomly extremly tired and when I walked around I felt weird. I went to bed and woke up around 9pm going straight to the restroom. I have felt sharp stabbing pains maybe 2 times in my lower abdomen, but that's about it. My son is moving like crazy. I was just wondering if anyone thinks it's working, or if I'm just getting the normal symptoms from it?

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      Nate 3 years ago

      I had castro oil with my second child, 5 days before due day. I took 2spoons of castro oil with orange juice around 7 pm., at 12am my contractions started and at 3am I had a beautiful, healthy daughter. I believe that castro oil definitely helped but made it very painful and very fast. They had to give me pitocin to help my uterus contract since I was bleeding excessively. Not sure if that had anything to do with me drinking castro oil. I feel like castro oil did help me to go in labor but made it very painful. Do note that I deliver my children naturally with out epidural. I am 38 weeks right now with gestational diabetes, not on meds but monitoring my diet and checking sugar 4 times a day. I have very hard time keeping with my diet. I was told that my baby was already 7.5lb at 34 week ultrasound. I am trying to avoid castro oil but it might be a good idea in my case.

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      Brittany Bardo 3 years ago

      When I had my first child I took castor oil and it worked awesome. I tried the orange juice mix but couldn't bring myself to drink any of it. I found that making a waffle and mixing syrup and the castor oil and pouring it on the waffle. It helped a lot I couldn't even taste it and within a few hours I was in the hospital in labor.

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      Brandy 3 years ago

      I took castor oil but it hasn't worked for me 4 hours ago ...lets see how it go's

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      Brittany S. 3 years ago

      I took 2tsp of castor oil mixed with apple juice with my first child around 8pm and my water ruptured around 6:30am. I wasn't having any contractions or pains but I decided to go to the hospital anyway around 9am. I was 4cm(I was 3cm the day before at my check up). I wasn't dilating anymore so around 5pm the went in and broke the rest of my water. I had my healthy baby boy at 6:08pm without an epidural. I'm currently 37weeks and if this baby boy don't come on his own I will definitely try castor oil again to avoid being induced.

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      Christina 3 years ago

      I used castor oil at 40w+1, (after walking around for almost 2 weeks at 3cm. dilated & 95% effaced) with my firstborn in 2006 & confused what I now know were contractions with THE WORST urges to use the bathroom I'd ever experienced. I had taken a spoonful with pineapple juice around 8:00 p.m. & from midnight until about 5:00 a.m. was periodically on the toilet. I remember thinking to myself "Could this be it?" & trying to time the cramps, but as tired as I was in those wee hours, I didn't really see a pattern.... Until the "cramps" were 2 minutes apart & I couldn't stand up straight or talk during one! Made it to the hospital at 9cm. ready to push & had my sweet boy an hour later. No meconium, a 9 on his first APGAR & a 10 on his second. (They also offered an epidural, but at that point, I just wanted it to be over with!) Would I use the same method again? Absolutely! Did I have to with #2? Nope. He made up his brother's deficit & came 2 days early!

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      Lisa 3 years ago

      Hi, thanks for this post! I'm just wondering if this will work if one is not dilated? I'm 41 weeks, baby is 3/5 engaged, cervix is soft, slightly effaced but not really dilated. Does this matter or can it still take effect.

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      Steffi 4 years ago

      In 2012 with my first son I took castor oil 3 days before my due date around 2pm and 2hrs after had a little diarrhea. About 2 hrs after that I started with contractions. I went in that night and was only 2cm. I walked around the unit and was then 4cm n they kept me. My son was born the next day. Now I'm 39+4 due in 4 days. I took castor oil today at 8am today and nothing so far and it's 945pm. My hubby bday is in 2 days so maybe my son is waiting to come then.

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      tiffany 4 years ago

      I'm 39w3d and tried using castor oil. I've never taken a laxative in my life so wasn't sure how I'd react to it but I think it all depends if your body/baby is ready. I tried everything to kick start labor and this was the last thing on the list. I took it and nothing happened. I didn't even get sick or have to use the bathroom or get any cramps or anything. I guess I'll just have to be patient.

    • meltawayyourfat profile image

      Inga 4 years ago from New York

      A very useful information. Thank you! :)

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      kerry g 4 years ago

      Used castor oil with my ds in 2010 at 40 weeks and went into labour within 2 hrs had no complications and baby was born 2 days later due to being back to back I am now 40+2 days with pains on and off for 2 weeks had a sweep which didn't work so am going to take some castor oil tonight fingers crossed it works for me again

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      Serenity's Mom 4 years ago

      I'm 40 weeks and 3 days and I'm having hip pain and pelvic pain. I went to the midwife today and she said it wasn't open enough for her to even strip the membrane. I'm 1 cm dialated. I'm bout to drink some Caster Oil. I hope it works and I have a safe delivery. Wish me many blessings!!!

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      MamaEmm 4 years ago

      Oh also forgot to say I've tried every other form of natural induction (spicy food, sex, message, accupressure, walking, exercise ball, raspberry leaf tea, evening primrose oil pills, nipple stimulation) everything and nothing has worked, I've just got a very stubborn baby.

    • profile image

      MamaEmm 4 years ago

      I've received 2 due dates, both which I am past due (10/31/13 and 11/07/13) I'm scheduled for an induction this Thursday (11/14/13) but I decided to try castor oil tonight for the second time (tried it on Halloween(first due date) and nothing happened except severe contractions/false labor ending in a hospital visit and sent home after 4 hours of monitoring. Now being over due for both due dates I figured I'd give it a try. Took the oil at about 8:30pm went tobed and woke at midnight with tight stomach and a lot of pressure so I got up and spent about 10 mins straight on the toilet. After I took a hot shower, now I'm relaxing and watching a movie having some pressure and random contractions. Really hoping this is it. I've had a really rough pregnancy and don't think I'll ever get pregnant again. But this post is extremely helpful and the best one I've found and I did a lot of research and I must say kudos b.c this is by far the best!!

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      kerry 4 years ago

      Used castor oil with my 4th baby as I was told they wouldn't induce me because of 2 c sections 10 years before.I took it on due date at 11 pm and went into labour within an hour.had baby 2 days later due to baby being back to back will be using it again with baby no 5 xx

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      Kimberly 4 years ago

      Those of you who have used the castor oil before, can you tell me if you've ever been concerned that it affected your child's health? Especially your child having tummy issues when they're a few years older...just a curious mommy.

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      Katrina Rae 5 years ago

      My due date is tomorrow, (fathers day!), I have tried castor oil twice with little to almost no side effects. (Which I guess could be a good thing considering some horror stories I have heard). I have not gone into labor yet and the last time I took it was almost twenty four hours ago. It did give me a little tummy ache, but beyond that didn't do much for me either time. The one I purchased is tasteless and odorless, but the texture is still hard to choke down. I don't think I'll ever take it for anything again. This was a last ditch effort for me, it wasn't my first choice, but nothing else had worked. I guess my baby girl is going to come when she pleases!

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 5 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      Gina Croote,

      In that case yes, I don't think it can hurt to try. Leave it as late as you can... possibly in the last 5 days before the planned induction and make sure you are careful.

    • Gina Croote profile image

      Gina Croote 5 years ago from Monticello, Kentucky

      they have told me that she is in the 3% group of the size she needs to be they said she is a good weight as far as the fact that the rest of her measurements are small as well they have me doing the NSTs 2x a week now and that's why they are saying inducing at 39 weeks cause she would have a better chance of growing better out of womb. this is actually my 3rd pregnancy and i had no problems at all with my two boys.

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 5 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      Gina Croote,

      Effacement and dilation is NOT an indication of anything. In fact, you can be 2-3cm dilated for several weeks or not dilated at all just hours before having your baby. Some medical professionals don't do internal checks at all for this reason.

      Have they actually given you PRECISE information about your baby's growth? If it was really serious, they wouldn't be telling you to wait another few weeks for induction. Baby size estimates can be up to a pound or more out EITHER way.

      The longer baby stays in the better, and they cannot force you to induce if you don't want to. I'd recommend making sure your doctor has a clear reason on why he wants to induce as often it can put you at higher risk if it's not needed.

    • Gina Croote profile image

      Gina Croote 5 years ago from Monticello, Kentucky

      I am 35 weeks and 6 days. Last i got checked i was not at 1 cm dilated and 50% thinned i have been having BH for the past week straight some are really strong and some are not. I am not thinking about going this way right now but maybe in like 2 weeks i might do it cause they are saying that come 39 weeks they will induce me cause they claim my baby is small and something about growth restriction. I was just wondering if i should try this way or not. I am not big on the hospital inducing me if i can go into labor with out it.

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      anj 5 years ago

      great article and i appreciated your personal experience at the end. i have two children who both went to 41w1d before i drank castor oil. with my first baby, a hospital induction was looming, and i badly wanted a natural birth. i succeeded. for my second baby, i had a homebirth with midwives so i was not under pressure, but was experiencing a lot of prodromal labor so i decided to go ahead. in both cases, i drank it in the morning and had a baby in my arms that night. 8'11oz first baby, 8'5oz second baby. im now 40w5d pregnant and planning my third castor oil induction on monday. i would like to go into spontaneous labor for once, but am grateful for a method which to me is tried and true!

    • profile image

      sneetches 5 years ago

      I was 41+6 with my second baby and getting pretty tired, with emotional strain on the family and various people (though not my midwives) starting to nag me about the dangers of waiting longer. Also, I really wanted to make sure nothing interfered with our plans to have the birth at home. Our midwives had just done their weekly check up so they were very nearby, and it felt like a really good day to have the baby. Also, I had had some indications that morning that labor might be soon, but over the previous couple of weeks I had thought things were moving along only to be disappointed, so I was wanted to take some steps to encourage my body to follow through.

      So, long story short, when the midwives put castor oil on the list of possibilities for me to consider, I decided to go for it. I also took some herbs under their direction, so it's possible that the effects I experienced were not the castor oil alone. But in any case, within half an hour of taking 2 ounces of castor oil I started feeling strong contractions in my back, within an hour and half post-castor oil I had contractions spaced 3 minutes, and in just about exactly four hours after the castor oil the baby was born with just 15 minutes of pushing.

      Apparently I'm the only person in history to have had no effect on my intestines from the castor oil. I was constipated before the birth, had a small amount of firm stool during the birth, and remained constipated afterward. Odd. But in any case, the birth was seamless -- painful, but no more than the previous non-castor-oil time, and much faster, which was a blessing.

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 5 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      May be worth a try as long as your midwife is aware :)

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      kerry 5 years ago

      First 2 were 41 weeks, 3rd one 38 weeks. Uncomfortable, baby already 8.5lbs a week ago according to midwife. Trying for unmedicated homebirth, so really don't want baby to get much bigger. :-)

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 5 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      Well it depends on you - how long your pregnancies usually last, if you're at risk for medical induction, how uncomfortable you are.

    • profile image

      kerry 5 years ago

      40w+1d been having BH for weeks. This is 4th baby. Past few days BH more often. Maybe beginning of labor, maybe not. Would you try it?

    • Jen Altig profile image

      Jen Altig 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      The information provided here is invaluable. Thank you.

    • Rfordin profile image

      Rfordin 5 years ago from Florida

      Great post and I will confess I am the mother of TWO castor oil induced babies. I THINK what is most important to highlight a gabazillion times is that if your body is NOT ready for labor castor oil will not force you into labor. Thank you for stating that.

      I enjoyed reading your article and can't tell you how many people feel the need to share their opinion on how harmful it is, how selfish I was, how horrible it is etc. I basically keep hush, hush on it unless asked directly. It's deifnitly one of those 'need to know basis topics.


    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 5 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      Nicole ,

      Unless there is a medical reason, there is no reason you need to have a c/section just for going postdate. And it's not a good idea to have castor oil if you're already in labour (as stated at the top of this article) as it can make labour quite painful and messy.

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      Nicole 5 years ago

      I'm 38weeks as of today, my scheduled c section is may 2. A few days ago I went in the hospital and found while I was there that I was already dilated at 3cm and 70% Effaced.

      While I was there I dilated to 5cm still 70% effaced.

      They sent me home because my labor stalled after that.

      I took 2tbs of castor oil earlier, could it help get things back on the road.?

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      blu 5 years ago

      I did it with all 3 of mine, no poop no cramps and it took around 2 hours each time to work. Good luck :)

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      miriam 5 years ago

      Hi IM 37 weeks and 5 days IM 3 cm dilated and IM having contractions would I be able to try castor oil ? To get my labor going

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      patricia 5 years ago

      i am 37 weeks today 2 an a half dialiated doc says he feels baby head gonna be induced at 38 weeks due to high blood presure this is my fourth kid do you think i should wait or try castor oil

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      Malice 5 years ago

      I am 40 weeks and 1 day today and it is new years eve and i took the castor oil about 5pm and am currently waiting for the labor effects to (hopefully) take effect. I had a little diarrhea that lasted an hour or so so am hoping that next come some contractions. I am super excited to be a mom for the first time and cannot wait to meet my little man. I do so hope this works, my friend who suggested it swore by this method...

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      Tyana 5 years ago

      I am 39 and 4 with my 3rd child and I drank some castor oil mixed with iced tea and cran grape juice today around 2:30 pm and at 5:30 started having diarrhea. It is 7:50 and still have the diarrhea but it is starting to calm down a bit now. Let's hope it works because I do not want to end up having a repeat c-section. I am having a vbac after 2 cs.

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 5 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      Desiree Abrams,

      That's FAR too early to try. It probably won't work anyway (it only works if you're ready.)

      At that gestation, babies will need to be in the NICU, have double the chance of infant death in the first year, miss out on important mental development and so much more. Not to mention probably needing steroids to mature their lungs at birth, and a feeding tube.

      I strongly recommend waiting to give your baby the best start to life - it's only a few extra weeks for you, but it can change their health for a lifetime.

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      Desiree Abrams 5 years ago

      Im 31weeeks and im seriously thinking about trying castor oil in about 5 or 6 more weeks.I know its to early right now that's why im waiting.Just wanna know can it hurt the baby???

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 5 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      Stacy, I think it's far too early to be trying the castor oil. Since a first pregnancy is up to 80% more likely to go postdate (and you're NOT overdue till 42 weeks), don't try and force your body into something it's not ready for.

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      Stacy 5 years ago

      It is 3:20 am. I drank the castro oil at about 1pm, then a little more at 3. I went to the nathroom a few times and I'm feeling contractuons every 7-4 minutes consistantly for about 20 minutes and then they only come every 20 minutes.Amd then back to just several minutes apart. Could this be early labor and mean I'll be in full blown labor in judt a.few hours? This is the first thing I've tried.that gave me conttactions. I've fone a lot of walking, sex, cleaning, nipple stimulation but nothing ever happened until now. I will be 39 weeks tomorrow.

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      Hilary 5 years ago

      I took 1 oz of castor oil at 39w 6d and I went into labor 6 hrs later. No diarrhea, no side effects at all. And no meconium. Just thought I'd share! Worked for me!

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 5 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      You can be dilated for weeks before birth - internal exams are nothing but a stress on the mother whether before or during labor.

      EDDs can be up to 2 weeks out depending when you ovulate, so I'd recommend at least waiting till 40 weeks. This is an important time in baby's mental development.

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      Elliot 5 years ago

      I'm 39+2. Went to the dr. Yesterday and am 3 cm

      Thinking of going for it. It's my second child.


    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 5 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      Samantha, it's really a personal choice.

      I did my research before using it and I believe that a lot of the "horror stories" are from women who don't even bother to research, who take far too much castor oil and don't bother staying hydrated, or take it far too early.

      So do your research and have a good look at both what people do and don't say - everyone has an opinion but not every opinion is based on more than hearsay and incorrect usage.

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      Samantha Taylor 5 years ago

      Im 38 weeks and ive been reserching Castor oil a lot and a lot of ppl say its ok and they went into labor the day after or acouple hours after then a lot of ppl say no you shouldn't use it it didn't work..ect. Im not planning on using it unless i go over my due date but im kinda scared to try it because of all the negatives but then again i see a lot of positives too. Im just kinda stuck on what i should do does anyone have any suggestions?

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 5 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      Meg, based on your situation I'd highly recommend you do not take castor oil.

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      Meg 5 years ago

      Hi I'm 36 weeks tomorrow and have been in the hospital for a week my water broke at 35 weeks and when I came in they said I was 1 centimeter and 50% efface they haven't checked me since due to the risk of infection the day I arrived an ultra sound was done to measure his size and then he was 5 & 1/2 lbs. I received 2 rounds of steroids to give his lungs a last little boost for development I don't know how much longer I can stay in this room or bed they monitor me twice a day for an hour and no contractions at all what are the odds you think that castor oil will work for me

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 5 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      Hi Courtney,

      Everybody is ready at a different stage - due dates can be up to two weeks out as well. I suggest holding off - your baby needs as much time inside as possible!

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      courtneyyy06109 5 years ago

      Hey im 39 weeks plus 3 days i brought some castor oil 2 try go into labour and im not shure if my Body is ready 2 go into labour how do you no if your body is ready??

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      BeesMommy 5 years ago

      40 weeks as of today have tried everything from tea to black licorice(YUCK)btw to bananas, lots of walking and sex ;), have done loads of laundry, spicy foods, chinese food, pressure points and massaging….and still nothing so today I went to my local CVS and purchased a small amount of castor oil drank it with some OJ at 5:30 pm…..fingers crossed hope it works wish me LUCK……really want to meet my liddo man already :D

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 5 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      Krystal if you're in labour you run the risk of extra pain and mess if you try it.

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      Krystal 5 years ago

      Hi I'm 37 week's 2 day's pregnant with my third I went into labor Monday got too 4cms and stopped so they sent me home I'm still having contractions here and there and so much pressure do you think it would be too early so try castor oil and have my baby.?

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      erica 5 years ago

      im 38 weeks and 4 days im at 2 cm and about 80%... ive tried a lot of things to go into labor walking, stairs and pineapple, rasberry tea and hot sauce on food!! ive been having contractions for a cple months and been to the hospital at least 3 times in the past two months.... im so ready to have my lil girl. i cant sleep at night and im up all hours... i drink plenty of water. my mucus plug fell out almost 2 weeks ago... baby has dropped and i just want to know what else can i do!!!!! ive tried basil on my food....

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 5 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      Hi Helen. If your last baby went a week postdate I don't think your chances are extremely high, so up to you. Just make sure you take it correctly.

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      helen :) waiting on number 4 5 years ago

      im 39+1 and i have SPD my last baby was a week over and labour lasted 24mins was very painful but quick and over and done with at the same time this time last time i was checked (2weeks ago my cervix was still long and tuby and 1 cm dialated which is because of me having kids already ive just bought some castor oil and nervas about taking it but i dont want to be started of not a big fan of needles just would like some advice anyone please? :)

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 5 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      Roro, the last five weeks are very important in brain and body development for your baby. Please wait till 40 weeks.

    • profile image

      Roro 5 years ago

      Hi im 35 weeks + 3 days is it to early to take i hate being pregnant now and willing to try anything :(

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 5 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia


      At this stage I think it's worth a try, since you are past 40 weeks. However please make sure you do it safely and are prepared, as outlined above. Good luck and let me know how you go. =)

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      jaime-lee 5 years ago

      i am 40 weeks plus 3 days, i was scheduled for induction yesterday, but the hospital was full so now i have to wait until sunday. the reason for my doc wanting to induce baby so early is because he is so big and my first child being 10 lbs tore me so badly as i am a very petite size. i was in the hospital 6 days with my first and am very scared to go threw that again. friends and family are saying to try castor oil but i am nervous being im not that far past my due date and a lot i am reading says its not safe to do to early on, but im also nervous because the longer baby stays in me the bigger he will get. should i wait until sunday or give the castor oil a try?

    • profile image

      Have PSD 5 years ago

      I'm 38 weeks today, but I have PSD and I find it really hard to walk at times, turn over, etc. I took a tablespoon and it helped with me going to bathroom once and gave me nice contractions with a loss of mucous plug with a bloody show, but then they stopped. This was two days ago. I might try to take another tablespoon this morning and see if it takes me the rest of the way through. With my 4 year old 1 tablespoon worked and I didn't need any other medicine to induce and with my 9 year old it put me into labor, but the doctor was peeved at me and broke my water and gave me pitocin, so my contractions were horrible. I also have gestational diabetes so I get nervous going too far. He was 6 lbs 40z at the day I turned 36 weeks, so he is probably at least 7.5 now.

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 5 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia


      That is extremely dangerous and about six times the recommended dose for induction. I would recommend drinking a LOT of water and probably going to the hospital so they can keep an eye on you.

      Dilation/effacement is no indication of impending labour - you can be 2cm dilated for weeks. As it's your first baby, you're less likely to go early anyway.

      I would highly recommend that everyone DOES THEIR RESEARCH before taking random herbal or medical potions ESPECIALLY during pregnancy!

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      ProudToBeMommy 5 years ago

      So Im 39 and some days..And my due date is July09,2012. Well Its my first child and I drank a whole 6oz bottle of castor oil at 8:00am this morning. Could I go into labor tonight or no?

      I would really appreicate it if you could get back to me asap.

      Thank You(:

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      shelly 5 years ago

      I am 39 n 4 days I am dilated to a 1.5cm I am not very thinned out yet ..should I take the c oil?

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 5 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      Thanks Mandi,

      I would recommend waiting - first time mothers are 70% more likely to go postdate, so there is a good chance it won't work this early. You aren't overdue till 42 weeks. If you do try it, remember it will only work if your body is ready.

      Two tips: giving birth on your back is the worst position as it closes the pelvis and I highly recommend having a look at delayed cord clamping to give your baby the best start to life.

      Good luck!

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      mandi 6 years ago

      I'm 39 weeks & 3 days along with my first child. I have been seeing my doctor weekly for the past several weeks and each week I hope for some progress, but only hear the same thing....that no progress is being made. My biggest concern is my boyfriend works away during the week and is only home late Thursdays - early Mondays. I convinced my doctor to schedule an induction for next Friday (2 days past my due date) when my boyfriend will be home. However, I've done a lot of research on castor oil and after reading this page, I'm highly considering trying that while my boyfriend is home this weekend, just in case she happens to come during the week before my induction. Besides, I'd rather not be medically induced. Hopefully you can get back to me with your opinion by tomorrow. If not, I think I will just go through with the oil tomorrow just to see if it works. Thanks for the advice in advance. And also for making this page. Best one I've seen yet informing women about castor oil induction

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 6 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      Kiyomi it will only work if the baby is ready.

      And dilation/effacement can happen weeks before labour or not till labour starts. It is no indication of how soon it will be.

    • profile image

      kiyomi sekigawa 6 years ago

      I am 1 centimeter and 50 percent enf. I am having a hard time in this pregnancy, and I really want to give birth. I am 39 weeks and 5 days and ready. I cannot sleep at night and feel miserable. I bought the castor oil. I want to drink it now. Will it work :( ?

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 6 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      Thanks for the comment MommyOfTwo. Just a reminder that this only has a 57% success rate because like all natural methods, it only works if the baby is ready. Hopefully you meet your little one soon!

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      Mommyoftwo 6 years ago

      Hello. I read this guide and it helped me decide to try using castor oil to try to induce labor. I'm 39+4 weeks and the only reason I tried to take matters into my own hands is because I had my membranes stripped two days ago and nothing happened. Yesterday I mixed 2 tbsp of oil with oj, and it was mildly unpleasant. I didn't have abowel movement until this morning and it was only one. I decided to try it one more time, this time increasing the oil to 3 tbsp with the oj then I went outside for a walk. I just had a bowel movement after 6 hours, again only one. I'm not going to try again! That'd be stupid. It doesn't work for everyone. We'll see how the rest of the day goes. Ladies, your baby will come when it is ready to! You're crazy to try this before it's close to your due date.

    • profile image

      kevia 6 years ago

      I'm 38 weeks and one day I jus took the oil I took to tablesppons full do u thk it will work for me I've dialated 2 in a half already

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      Danielle 6 years ago

      41 weeks 1 day and am scheduled for an unwanted induction for Friday. I am going to give this a shot this morning and see what happens. My doula suggested 3 oz of castor oil in an orange juice and ice smoothie, but after reading here that seems like an excessive amount. I will start out small I think. Wish me luck!

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 6 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      Elizabeth that is an excessive amount. You really need to stay hydrated. Lots and lots of water! If you're worried call the hospital. Good luck.


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