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Is It Safe to Use Castor Oil to Induce Labor?

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Overdue Baby? Can I Use Castor Oil?

As mothers our first duty is to let no harm come to these vulnerable babies. We should not contemplate risk-taking with our baby's lives.

As mothers our first duty is to let no harm come to these vulnerable babies. We should not contemplate risk-taking with our baby's lives.

Why Hasn't Labor Started Yet?

So you are getting near the end of your pregnancy.

You may be between 36 and 38 weeks pregnant and starting to get very very fed up with carrying all that extra weight, back ache, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, swollen feet (not that you can see them). Your body feels heavy, uncomfortable and just not like your pre-pregnancy body at all. Not surprisingly, ladies sometimes desperately seek advice on how to get the birth process started.

By the time you're in your last month of pregnancy all you want is the baby out. But, you want your baby out safely, don't you? There is a reason your baby has not arrived yet, they are still growing and laying down fat stores. In a world where we want everything yesterday, we forget that mother nature should not be rushed. A human pregnancy is meant to last between 38 and 42 weeks. Stop listening to old wives tales, Castor oil is dangerous, read on and I will tell you why! You need to keep your baby safe.

Castor Oil Places Babies In Danger


Why Do People Say Castor Oil Will Bring on my Labor?

Castor oil is known in the medical fraternity as a very effective laxative and bowel stimulant. The way that castor oil works ( sometimes) to induce labor is that it sets off cramps whilst working as a laxative. The cramps are meant to trigger contractions, something you may have found happens naturally as practice contractions can take place during normal bowel movements. The idea is that the cramps set off significant contractions as to start off true labor. This sounds all so very practical until you realize that first of all castor oil is not so easy to drink; it feels like you are drinking a bottle of grease. I know because I have had five babies and have been misinformed enough to try this method, to no avail. Oh the contractions may come but you could be in for a false labour for a whole load of nothing, left disappointed, infuriated and even more fed up than you were the day before, only now you are tired and probably have a sore bum (See next paragraph!).

Secondly, even if you get this awful stuff down your neck, you will soon wish you had not when the contents of your body and then some fall out of your anus and not always whilst you are on the toilet either. Why lose the small amount of dignity you had left to hold on to?!

Pharmacists in the UK are very aware of why a heavily pregnant woman would be asking for castor oil and therefore tend to refuse to sell it if they suspect it is to be used to induce labour. Some women try to work around this by sending a friend or partner to purchase the offending liquid. Pharmacists are not that stupid and still ask what the purchase is for and usually, the consumer can not answer.

How can Castor Oil harm my unborn baby?

As I have just told you, Castor oil is a laxative that stimulates your bowel, this on its own will leave you dehydrated as you are inducing diarrhea unnaturally. Your body being dehydrated could cause distress to your unborn baby and the Castor oil is also to be suspected of crossing the placenta and if it causes you to have diarrhea, it will do the same to your baby.

What happens when your baby passes Meconium inside the womb

If your baby has a bowel movement in your womb it will be meconium, a very concentrated tarry poo. It will be obvious to your care givers if your baby has passed meconium as the amniotic fluid( Your waters) will have a green tinge to them.

A baby who passes meconium and subsequently inhales any has a possibility of ending up with meconium aspiration syndrome. If a baby develops MAS they could need anything from suction to assistance with breathing equipment and time in the neonatal unit. Is any of this worth it because you wanted to see your baby a couple of days early?

Many places on the internet will tell you that Castor Oil is safe or use the old adage " I took it and my child was fine!". What about all of the babies who were not fine because of Castor Oil?

If you really are still undecided, I would be so bold as to ask you to talk to your Obstetrician about Castor Oil. I know I would rather listen to a Health professional than use the internet.

You have a better chance of your baby coming on time with plenty of walking and using a Birthing ball,( also known as a Gym ball), to get your baby into the correct position and exercise your pelvic for labor.

A collection of views

Birthing Balls Encourage Good Birthing Position

Why birthing balls are safer to encourage timely labour

Birthing balls are a much safer option to encourage your labour to start at a safe and appropriate time, instead of more dangerous attempts such as castor oil.

Birthing balls become comfier to sit on during your last trimester and I personally used one as a chair for my fifth pregnancy. That baby was in such a good position that he arrived with in 25 minutes. He had worked his way down so low that the first stage of labour was very short.

Birthing balls also encourage the baby to lie head down and in the preferred position for birth that medical professionals suggest is best.

Because our seating habits have changed, we tend to lean back with legs up and slump in a sofa as a nation and because of that, many babies are badly positioned, causing difficulties in labour. Sitting on a birthing ball creates correct posture, which gives you a higher chance your baby will be in the correct position. Well worth the small price tag!

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.

© 2012 Emma

Would you or have you taken Castor oil? Did you know the risks?

Emma (author) from UK on August 15, 2013:

I truly don't think any of us ever fully took or knew the risks when we used it, I hope this article is reaching some who are considering using it.

Nell Rose from England on August 07, 2013:

I see by your poll that nearly all of us have used it! I know I did with my son, and yes it did that....and that.....ouch! lol! but honestly I never realised the dangers, so this is great advice, thanks, nell

Eiddwen from Wales on December 15, 2012:

Interesting and useful so thank you for sharing.


Emma (author) from UK on October 12, 2012:

Thank you Sue.

I agree, more people need to realize that nature is quite potent.x

Sueswan on October 07, 2012:

Hi Ddraigcoch,

Some are mislead that if something is natural, it is harmless. I read that the castor oil plant is the most poisonous plant in the world according to the 2007 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records.

Voted up and interesting

Have a good day. :)

Emma (author) from UK on September 18, 2012:

Thank you very much Penlady. Whilst you would not need to know at least you may keep others from using it if they are pregnant.

Thank you kindly for sharing.x

penlady from Sacramento, CA on September 18, 2012:

I never knew you could use castor oil to induce labor, but I don't have any children. So there's no reason for me to know. Yet, I love knowledge, so reading your great hub makes me more knowledgeable about this information.

Voted up, useful and tweeted.

Emma (author) from UK on September 17, 2012:

I should imagine you have never needed the use of it Bill, hehe. Thank you very much for reading my hub and leaving me a comment.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 17, 2012:

I'm wondering how I knew none of this? I had never heard of taking castor oil to induce labor. Thanks for the education!