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Castor Oil?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

My mom took castor oil with three of her pregnancies. Twice it worked to bring on labor, once it did nothing beyond the expected bowel effect. My sister tried it twice. It worked once for her and the other time she threw it up right away and didn't try taking it again. I am considering it...

Anybody have any thoughts about it? Since I am having a homebirth, does that give me any added reasons why NOT to take it? Pros? Cons? Success stories? Horror stories? I asked my doctor about it today and all she said is she had one patient who had such severe contractions from it that the baby got stressed and they wound up doing a c-section. Anyone else ever heard of that? I bought a bottle and am considering taking it in the morning if I don't go into labor tonight. Is it better on an almost-empty stomach, since everything will come out anyway? Or is it better to take it with a meal?

 

Thanks for any thoughts about it!

post #2 of 8
The baby triggers labor when s/he is ready, so I don't feel that induction is generally a good idea unless there is a clear medical necessity. And in that case, you should probably be in a hospital if there is a medical issue requiring induction. Castor oil might work, but is it a good idea to evict the baby before it's time?

ETA: I just saw on your other post in the UC forum that you are 38+1 weeks. That is WAY too early to be thinking about induction and you could be facing a baby who has respiratory issues if you successfully induce at this gestation. Elective inductions, even in the hospital, are not recommended before 39 weeks.
post #3 of 8

Okay, so I am likely an odd man out here at MDC, but I have taken CO with all of my babies.  I would not be comfortable taking it early on, but obviously I am different than most here simply being comfortable taking it at ALL.  I do NOT "recommend" it for anyone else, I think that's definitely a decision you have to weigh heavily and make yourself.  But I can share my experiences.

 

With DD1, we tried it because my OB wanted a medical induction, and I did it under the guidance of a VERY experienced MW (previously L&D RN for 35 years) who's advice I really trusted.  I had a pretty high Bishop score otherwise we wouldn't have bothered.  I tried several rounds of it, but it only sent me to the toilet throughout the day.  Nothing horrible, just like I an upset stomach.

 

With DD2, I took it at my EDD (again, VERY high Bishop score...I tend to dilate a LOT beforehand- like a full 5cm, efface well, baby is always engaged, optimally positioned, and in a very favorable station, etc).  I took it before bed once, it didn't do ANYTHING, not even send me to the toilet.  Tried again a few days later before bed, and at 3 a.m. I was up, in labor, never had to use the bathroom, and she was out in 4 hours.  A VERY wonderful unassisted homebirth, no complications whatsoever before, during or after, labor went amazingly and I pushed her out very quickly.

 

With DS, again, my body was well prepared for labor (dilation, effacement, position, station, etc).  Right around my EDD again I tried the CO.  This time it was out of sheer desperation- I'd had a VERY painful pregnancy with SPD pain, SI joint trouble, etc, that no one I saw could really remedy, and I'd been having weeks of REALLY intense prodromal labor (waking up in the middle of the night with transition-like contractions for hours at a time).  Again the CO worked, I went into labor around 3 a.m. again, I DID spend some time on the toilet but it was a very short, "mild" experience, and by 3 hours I was complete (though he wasn't born for another 6 hours, I believe he shifted a bit and may have been asynclictic at that point as my pelvis adjusted to the size of his 15.5" head!!!!).  Once my body had put on the "final touches" and I broke my own water, he was out in 2 quick pushes.  Again, a wonderful unassisted homebirth.

post #4 of 8

I have not found anything about the safety or efficacy of castor oil to induce or showing that it is an evidenced-based practice.

 

I have read some anecdotal claims that if it works, the baby is more like to have problems with mec.

post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buzzbuzz View Post

 

I have read some anecdotal claims that if it works, the baby is more like to have problems with mec.

 

One thing I thought was interesting regarding this topic (not "in defense" of castor oil, just that it's something I considered as well), is that the midwife/L&D RN who helped me with this said something that I've also seen noted here as well.  I can't quote her exactly, but it was something along the lines of how most studies done on castor oil are on women who are already overdue and more likely to have meconium in the waters, so it's hard to point to the cause as being the castor oil.  I am not sure how true that is, but it makes sense to me.

 

Also, I think it makes a huge difference how it is used.  I know some women consider "taking castor oil" to be chugging half the bottle at once, and yeah, that's bound to cause trouble.  Personally, I would never top a Tbsp or so.

post #6 of 8
CO workers for us to bring on contractions After water broke. As with any induction, if contractions aren't going to start, nothing you can do will help.
The cons are the diarrhea. Make sure you stay super hydrated
post #7 of 8

I thought the way that castor oil supposedly acted to induce you was by dehydrating you?  I understand that dehydration is a risk factor for preterm labor.

post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buzzbuzz View Post

I thought the way that castor oil supposedly acted to induce you was by dehydrating you?  I understand that dehydration is a risk factor for preterm labor.

 

From everything I've ever read/been told, it's because it stimulates the digestive system, which in turn *can possibly* stimulate the uterus.  Which is the way it has worked for me every time (but like I said, I'm very careful about how I have taken it, and it's only sent me to the toilet a few times- sometimes never, never made me sick, and definitely never dehydrated me or even come close).  I can imagine that for some women, OR for those who use it irresponsibly, it could easily turn into a dehydration issue as a side effect.

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