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

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.

Read More From Wehavekids

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.

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.

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."

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.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

Question: I am 37 weeks pregnant, and I have consumed castor oil to induce labor. However, I feel completely normal, should I take some more?

Answer: As outlined in the article, it can take up to 6 hours to start seeing side effects of an average castor oil dosage. It's also best to limit the amount of castor oil taken during a 24 hour period, to avoid severe delayed side effects due to taking too large a dose.

Question: I am thirty-four-weeks pregnant. Should I take caster oil?

Answer: Absolutely not. Castor oil has a powerful impact on your bowels and entire body, so it's not an option to be used without proper knowledge or need. It should only be used when past forty weeks, and when other less invasive options have not worked. At thirty-four weeks, a baby's lungs and brain have not finished development, and your baby hasn't gained all the weight and functions that develop in the last four weeks of pregnancy. A baby born at thirty-four weeks will end up in special care, and likely have difficulty with feeding, temperature control and be at higher risk of health issues. If you feel that the pregnancy is too painful or uncomfortable, find a medical practitioner or qualified natural health practitioner who can assess the problems and offer ways of dealing with them, without giving birth this early.


Estrellita ortega on August 02, 2020:

Iam 38 weeks and four days i drank castro oil but it didnt work

Allison on July 17, 2020:

I’m 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant. I have an induction on the day that I’ll be 39 weeks. As much as I’d like to wait for my induction, I’ll have to have the Covid test done before hand. Whereas if I go into labor on my own, I won’t need the test.. I’m already 90% effaced and 3 cm dilated, so would I be okay to use castor oil?

sange on July 02, 2020:

on yesterday at 7pm i drink full bottle of castor oil but i did not notice any sign of labor im 33weeks pregnant

what must i do???

Sylvia on June 13, 2020:

I take 100ml of caster oil but nothing has happened yet, it's now two days.

Faithchinaza on May 02, 2020:

I took one full bottle of castor oil once at my 40 weeks ,i had diarrhea and mild pain under my belly that comes and goes for like three times and stoped but waited for contraction for 6days now but it didnt happen ,now i dont know if i should take castor oil again , please i need your advice cuz am 40 weeks and 6days today thanks

Sarah on April 07, 2020:

I took castor oil in a peanut butter smoothie at 39+6 with my first, contractions started about 2 hours later and baby was born within 5 hours with no complications and I thought castor oil was a miracle.

The next 2 pregnancies I tried same mixture at 38 weeks because I hate being pregnant, it starts labour strong and hard so we ran to the hospital only to have the contractions die off each time after about 5 hours. I will say though all babies came out fine with no merconium problems and mixing with peanut butter seems to stave off diarrhea and vomiting.

Currently in 4th pregnancy, 38wk and just tried it again, same problem. Intense labour, thought “this is more like my first and this my 4th, this is the real deal” ran to the hospital and currently laying in bed with no baby and no contractions. Your body really does need to be ready. So chances are I will just have to uncomfortably wait 2 more weeks

Nelly on March 20, 2020:

Hi I am 39 week should I take castor oil

Mimiemhari on March 05, 2020:

I had castor oil at 6:30am l started having diarrhea at 10am until 5:30pm is it normal l have 40 weeks there is no sing of labour does that mean it didn't work for me

Jlp on December 06, 2019:

I might have messed up. Im only 29 weeks but i couldnt poop so my friend told me to take it. Im 20 and this is my 1st baby.. What do i do. I took some already then got sick and now have the runs. Is my baby going to be ok if i give birth after this!!--

Annette on November 23, 2019:

Hi there, I am 38 weeks pregnant and I tried using castor oil to jump start labor. However, the only thing I came across with my experience was the normal side effects of the laxative. I did have a few contractions but nothing to get labor going.

With my experience and listening to others, i do belive this only works if you have begun effacing or if your body is going to begin labor soon as it is.

I am glad it has work for other woman. Too bad I couldnt get the show on the road lol

Jessica on September 29, 2019:

I am 37 weeks, 3rd baby. I drank CO at 1045pm started having contractions and a lot of painful tightening. My son woke up so I had to put him back down. While doing so they stopped. At 2am I drank 2tbsp more with orange juice. And the tightening and contractions are back and constant. Its hard to even time it. Last week i was checked and was 3cm and 50%. What should I do? I dont want to go thru triage to just be sent home. I havent lost mucus plug and water hasnt broke.

Shane lean on August 18, 2019:

Im 39 weeks and 1 day should i take castor oil?

Patience on May 26, 2019:

As 37weeks 3days and my baby is breech and I was advised to take Castro oil,hope it wont affect my baby and if it induce labor will my baby be considered as a full term baby or not

Lucia on May 01, 2019:

Can i take castor oil on 38 weeks of pregnancy

Dacia on November 08, 2018:

With my first baby I was only 1 cm and 70% effaced. I mixed the castor oil with orange juice and drank it fairly quickly since taste and texture never bothered me. The next day I started having a few contractions but at 1 am in the morning they hit hard. I waited until 5 am to go to the hospital and I was still only 1 cm but 100%effaced. I walked around for about 45 minutes before they checked again and I was at 3cm. I had my beautiful girl at 3:09 pm. With my second baby I took it at exactly 38 weeks around 2am. At 4:25 am I started full on contractions but waited until around noon that day before I went in. She was born that day at 7:49 pm healthy as could be. I'm currently 37 weeks with my boy and he is breech plus I have low fluid. My doctor says it's ok to try becI have been 3 cm and 80%effaced for nearly a month now. If I try it and nothing happens we are scheduled to have him next week at 38 weeks. It has worked great for me and never had diarrhea or anything. I still say listen to your body. If you have doubts then please don't do it especially before 36 or 37 weeks. Wish you ladies luck.

Mary on August 14, 2018:

So this is slightly off topic but I managed to ease constipation with the use of just three drops of this stuff, and without inducing labor. I would honestly say it was gentler than exlax and cheaper too. If I wanted to induce then it would likely not take much, but I would do so more gently than tablespoons. Over a longer time but lessened dose.

Neelam Rajput on August 13, 2018:

Hi, I am 39weeks and 4 days pregnant today, and my Dr. Recommended using castor oil for inducing labor because I told her that it's getting difficult for me these days. She recommended a spoon of oil with one glass of juice in the night and if nothing happens then tomorrow night repeat. My question is how much time it will take? I read the whole article and your experience about 7 hrs is what it takes, as I am early than 40 weeks so will it take more time or less? I want my child's birth to on 15th August. So shall have it tonight or tomorrow? If two doses then how much gap should be there in between.

Kay on July 31, 2018:

DON'T DO IT. I did it at my mom's advice as she did it when she had me. Turned out I was colic and so was my daughter for 6 months. Not only that, my daughter pooped in the sack and could have died. There were several people having to drain her lungs it was a horrible experience. She had tummy problems for the first year of her life, was under way under the growth chart and projectile vomited... Not worth the risk. I had two other babies before her with no problems and didn't take the castor oil.

Rae on June 21, 2018:

It definitely worked for me, but a word of advice..


The texture and flavor are pretty intense when you're pregnant, but I thought it was completely doable with that juice.

Dian on April 13, 2018:

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!

5th baby on March 21, 2018:

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?

Ty on February 21, 2018:

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.

Leah on January 03, 2018:

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

Nika on December 19, 2017:

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.

Julie on November 21, 2017:

I’m praying this will

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

Nikianf on November 19, 2017:

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.

Lilias on October 11, 2017:

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....

Anita Mehnaz on October 03, 2017:

It didn’t work for me !

mbally on September 20, 2017:

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

Ash Belling on August 20, 2017:


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...

Ash Belling on August 19, 2017:

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!!!

Ash Belling on August 19, 2017:

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!!!

sarah oty on August 10, 2017:

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

sally on August 07, 2017:

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.

Nadya on August 07, 2017:

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.

Rachel Cairns on July 22, 2017:

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!

Miranda Shelts on July 17, 2017:

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!

Shyloh on July 13, 2017:

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

Natasha Rodriguez on July 03, 2017:

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?

Tonya on May 04, 2017:

Did u have take another dose of it or no?

Davianna on April 12, 2016:

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

hafswa on November 05, 2015:

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

Jess on October 21, 2015:

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.

Natalia on August 11, 2015:

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.

Heather on July 14, 2015:

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!

Cynthia Hoover from Newton, West Virginia on March 21, 2015:

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

jenn on March 15, 2015:

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

Angel on January 07, 2015:

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?

Nate on November 18, 2014:

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.

Brittany Bardo on November 11, 2014:

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.

Brandy on October 27, 2014:

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

Brittany S. on September 17, 2014:

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.

Christina on July 26, 2014:

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!

Lisa on July 02, 2014:

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.

Steffi on May 08, 2014:

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.

tiffany on April 22, 2014:

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.

Inga from New York on March 16, 2014:

A very useful information. Thank you! :)

kerry g on December 13, 2013:

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

Serenity's Mom on November 13, 2013:

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!!!

MamaEmm on November 11, 2013:

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.

MamaEmm on November 11, 2013:

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!!

kerry on November 11, 2013:

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

Kimberly on November 05, 2013:

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.

Katrina Rae on June 15, 2013:

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!

Susannah Birch (author) from Toowoomba, Australia on June 13, 2013:

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 from Monticello, Kentucky on June 13, 2013:

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.

Susannah Birch (author) from Toowoomba, Australia on June 13, 2013:

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 from Monticello, Kentucky on June 13, 2013:

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.

anj on June 07, 2013:

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!

sneetches on June 04, 2013:

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.

Susannah Birch (author) from Toowoomba, Australia on May 26, 2013:

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

kerry on May 26, 2013:

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. :-)

Susannah Birch (author) from Toowoomba, Australia on May 25, 2013:

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

kerry on May 25, 2013:

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 from Phoenix, Arizona on May 14, 2013:

The information provided here is invaluable. Thank you.

Rfordin from Florida on April 16, 2013:

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.


Susannah Birch (author) from Toowoomba, Australia on April 15, 2013:

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.

Nicole on April 11, 2013:

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.?

blu on February 11, 2013:

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

miriam on January 12, 2013:

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

patricia on January 12, 2013:

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

Malice on December 31, 2012:

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...

Tyana on December 15, 2012:

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.

Susannah Birch (author) from Toowoomba, Australia on December 11, 2012:

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.

Desiree Abrams on December 11, 2012:

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???

Susannah Birch (author) from Toowoomba, Australia on December 08, 2012:

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.

Stacy on December 08, 2012:

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.

Hilary on November 21, 2012:

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!

Susannah Birch (author) from Toowoomba, Australia on November 16, 2012:

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.

Elliot on November 16, 2012:

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

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


Susannah Birch (author) from Toowoomba, Australia on October 16, 2012:

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.

Samantha Taylor on October 16, 2012:

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?

Susannah Birch (author) from Toowoomba, Australia on September 26, 2012:

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

Meg on September 26, 2012:

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

Susannah Birch (author) from Toowoomba, Australia on September 08, 2012:

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!

courtneyyy06109 on September 08, 2012:

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??

BeesMommy on August 24, 2012:

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

Susannah Birch (author) from Toowoomba, Australia on August 03, 2012:

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

Krystal on August 03, 2012:

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.?

erica on August 02, 2012:

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....

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