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Castor oil to induce labor?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
For all of my births I've taken castor oil to induce labor. The first was 10 days late, 2nd was 2 1/2 weeks early with premature rupture of membranes & 3rd about 5 days early. I'm due in 7 days for # 4 and am sooooooo uncomfortable. My back hurts so bad I can't sleep & I'm having trouble breathing comfortably. I don't really want to do it again, but I'm curious about something. Does anyone know by experience if a castor oil induction (after the poop) causes a more painful labor than waiting for labor to begin on it's own? I've heard various opinions about this. Some say it causes a faster labor that's more intense... Some say it doesn't matter. Being a Bradley teacher I have the idea that labor would be easier if left to start on it's own... But I'm also planning a homebirth and don't really want a 10# baby! My last was 9 1/2 and that was big enough! I think it's the prostaglandins that are released in your body (from the poop) that actually cause you to begin labor. If that's true than maybe if I drink enough carrot juice and get diarrhea it'll work!!!!!!! Anyone have any comments?
post #2 of 31
my understanding is that it *is* the laxative effect of the castor oil that causes prostaglandins to be released and do the labor thing.

I think castor oil has been used because a little goes a long way (so to speak) and carrot juice and other ...um... calmer methods just aren't as whamo effective. Probably a timing thing with the prostaglandins - gotta have a bunch or something.

My other understanding is that castor oil will not work unless you are ready to go into labor anyway: you just get the runs.

I understand your wanting to go early ... maybe you will on your own! But seriously, if you feel ready for labor have you thought of other methods, like homeopathic remedies or the cohoshes? There's lots of info out there about these things.

Good luck! and keep us posted

post #3 of 31
I took castor oil for my first birth and you couldn't pay me any amount of money to do it again. I feel that it interfered with the labor in a potentially dangerous way -- making the contractions stronger and harder than they would have been otherwise -- and there are some situations in which it is indeed dangerous to intensify the labor in that way. (Dehydration is also a danger.) It was also just plain miserable. I wouldn't wish that pain (of unbearable stomach ache cramps on top of heavy contractions) on anybody.

I do know people for whom it was not such an ordeal. <shrug> All I'm saying, is that for me it was NOT worth it. I wish I'd just been patient.
post #4 of 31

castor oil

I took castor oil for my second birth and it really wasn't that bad.

My first birth (at home) had been a nine hour labor, and the last four hours were really unbelievably painful (though I was really glad to do it all without drugs or interventions). I was really out of it during the pushing stage because I was so high on endorphins. I was totally exhausted afterward.

My second homebirth was with castor oil, and when my contractions were four minutes apart they were still painless. I wasn't even sure I was in labor yet! When the pain began, it only took another hour and 19 minutes for my baby to be born. The pain was intense, and I didn't have time for endorphins to build up so I could really feel every contraction, but when it was over (I only pushed for 4 minutes and my water broke one minutes before my baby literally popped out) I felt great. One positive effect of the lack of endorphins was that I was really mentally present this time in a way I was not the first time. The diarrhea before and during labor was awful, but then I did not have any constipation afterwards. I also felt really energetic afterwards - I felt my recovery time was about three days instead of six months from the first birth!

I don't know whether the castor oil really sped the labor up or whether it was just a second birth phenomenon (my mother's second labor was 90 minutes and this was in a hospital with no drugs except demerol).

If I had another baby, I would probably go without the castor oil, but if it seemed that I had a good reason to take it (such as a large baby or worries about timing) I wouldn't have any qualms.

That's my 2 cents worth.
post #5 of 31
I did castor oil for my first birth - and in some ways was grateful for it. I mean, nobody told me how bad it would hurt to poop after the *Big* day and I was oh, so grateful that b/c of the castor oil I didn't have to for 3 days.

As for the labor itself, I was in early labor - 12 hours of ctx had yielded a 60% effaced Zero dialated cervix and I took the castor oil to "get things moving". The biggest negative was that the bowel ctx stimulated uterine ctx and vice-versa. So I went from having them @5 mins apart to being right on top of each other.

In hindsight, I think I'd do it again. The midwife told me Tues AM that she could be the one to deliver my dd on Wed PM (her on call night). I had started labor on Mon PM and thought "over my dead body will this go on for 2 more days!) She arrived at 1AM Wed and I honestly think I owe it all to the castor oil.

Final thought - Have you considered rubbing in on your belly? I read that it some ways that can stimulate labor (without the big poop) Good luck!

post #6 of 31
I am the mother of five. the last homebirthed. I have never used castor oil to induce labor because I generally believe it is best to let your body and baby decide when the time is right. From what I understand the castor oil will only work if your body is ready for labor anyway. Good luck
post #7 of 31
Also...keep in mind that castor oil will dehydrate you (from the pooping). If you end up having a long labor..that could be a dangerous factor.
post #8 of 31

Castor Oil

I've heard castor oil is very dangerous. I can totally empathize with your situation since I was two weeks late (and then induced) with my son. I am such an impatient person to begin with and I was so incredibly anxious to meet him, go into labor, be a mom, etc. that I could barely stand it anymore. I tried walking miles and miles, I tried blue and black cohosh tinctures, raspberry leaf tea, sex and more sex and NOTHING happened. I was completely uneffaced (is that word?) and undialated. However, castor oil is the one thing I didn't try. Everyone I know told me not to do it because it can cause complications. I think you are right in assuming that it does cause a very *fast and furious* labor, though I can't tell you for sure from experience.

Being late just stinks! Isn't 9 months enough? Oy!

post #9 of 31

"Inducing with castor oil isn't safe. Once swallowed the castor oil is hydrolized by intestinal lipases to recinoleic acid which stimulates intestinal secretion, decreases glucose absorption and increases intestinal motility. Castor oil is used in lipsticks, too. Many women who can tolerate the oil quite well on their lips get a reaction on their mouths if the oil converts to recinoleic acid. My question to a midwife who says castor oil is not absorbed is 'Would you please provide me with references for that statement'.

It's not so long ago that birthing women were given soap suds enemas (high, hot and a helluva lot) because someone started a rumor that soap was not absorbed through the colon. We know this is not true and that this black page in Obstetric history is best forgotten. Too many women have turned from saying 'My doctor says' to saying 'My midwife says'. Take responsibility for your and your family's health. It's fine to respect professionals but ask for references on everything you're not l00 % sure of and use your internet to scope things out. There is so much crap that passes for science without anyone questioning it.

On the subject of all the women in a hurry to get their babies born: I was 3 weeks 'overdue' with my oldest daughter. What really helped me was that I had lunch with a friend at about 8 months pregnancy. Her son had been born 6 months before. When she saw me walk in the restaurant all hugely pregnant she said 'Oh, Gloria, when I see you I miss my pregnancy so much'. I knew that one day I'd be saying that, too, so I made up my mind to enjoy it as long as possible and I'm so glad I did. Six months from now you'll be wondering what the rush was. I worry about women taking castor oil because you also give your baby castor oil when you take it through the gut. This means the baby will get diarrhea and pass meconium, too. then you're into all the transports for meconium."

-- Gloria Lemay
post #10 of 31

castor oil

Wow! Who would have guessed something like Castor Oil could generate so much response?

I might as well add my two-cents worth since I know where of I speak.

Yes, I too was overdue and willing to do anything to have my baby by "the deadline." Castor oil put me in labor about 14 hours after I took it. I honestly do not know what effect it had on my labor. But I do know this: if I had it to do over I would not have tolerated ANY interventions in my pregnancy and delivery.

Fist of all, I believe babies come when they are ready, so I wish I had not put so much stock in the due date. But because I was working with a midwife at a free-standing birth center, the due date was important, especially at the end. I was told that if I went to 42 weeks I would be considered high risk and have to have my baby at the hospital. So, I felt very pressured to have the baby by 42 weeks. A few days ahead of that "deadline," my midwife stripped my membranes hoping that would "get things going." It didn't. So, at her suggestion I tried the castor oil the next day. I took it at 2:00 p.m. on a Tuesday and pooped for about 6 hours. UGH!!!!! Exhausted, and empty, I went to bed. I awoke at 5:00 a.m. Wed. with real mild ctx. At noon I went to the midwife and was only 2 cm. She broke my water to help things along. The only thing that helped along was hard ctx. By 9:00 p.m. I could no longer talk through the ctx. At midnight she checked me again and I was only 4cm. All that pain and Lamaze breathing felt like I should have been further along.

The upshot is, I didn't fully dilate until 6:00 a.m. Thursday and I pushed for three hours. My baby never crowned. I went to the hospital up the blcok from the birth center and ended up with a c-section.

How much the castor oil contributed to any of that, I do not know. But I do know that my baby had more sense than the rest of us and she would have come eventually. I wish now that I had let her decide.

post #11 of 31
read http://gentlebirth.org/archives/natinduc.html#Castor at Midwife's achives. She is also cautioning regarding the use of castor oil.
post #12 of 31

What about sex?

In brief, my first child I had "false labor" for about 1 week, and she was born after 36 hours of real labor including really bad back pains. My second child I had 10 days of "false labor", a few of which had HOURS of 3-5 min apart contractions. Natural both times. The first w/ a "midwife", the second with a midwife, tho both in hospitals. The second time, I was really getting tired from the emotional rollercoaster (and physical!) of always thinking "this is it", and nothing happening. My midwife kept saying "sex-sex-sex" she said "even if its just a quicky before you go to sleep, and try to hold off going to the bathroom as long as you can to help soften the cervix.." Well, I was tired and not so much in the mood for such adventures, eventually she striped my membranes and I did some small doses of castor oil. HOW AWFUL!!!!! Never again, more because of the taste than anything else! So after trying to swallow that *(%^$&* a few times, I got myself up for her initial suggestion! I think thats what did it. I know several people who swear by sex to help get things going (only if the baby and your body are pretty much ready themselves tho!)

Had to throw it out there! I really believe we should let the baby decide, but I know it can get hard. The constant back and forth of my last days drove me nuts, I figured, maybe he was a bit shy or nervous to make his big debut! So we helped him along!
post #13 of 31
Hmmmm....castor oil or sex??????
thats a no-brainer for me.
I would rather (as a matter of fact, I did) have sex around the time of the birth than to take THAT stuff, and crap my brains out for hours( and get dehydrated!)
At least with the sex, your both happy (or at least one will be!)
It even surprised me with how "nice" the sex was at the end.
Semen has that prostaglandin that you need to start it up........I would rather have my man do it, than the doctor who can manually insert a prostaglandin gel cap.
Just thought I would add my 1-cent.
post #14 of 31
I used castor oil with my first baby when I was 21 days overdue. I spent most of my labor in the bathroom, either throwing up or having dhiarrea. This was NOT a fun way to labor. Later I started reading more on it and found out that it might cause the baby to poop too, leading to a higher chance of meconium while still in utero. Meconium aspiration can be very very dangerous for the baby. I am not sure how true this is, but it made sense to me, and I decided not to use castor oil for any other of my babies.

I agree with the other posters on just letting the baby decide when it is birthing time. I have found that it is much better to go with the flow of your body and your baby, instead of interfering in this natural process. I know that those last few weeks can seem long, but looking back it was over way too soon. I see being overdue as having some extra 'free time' to prepare for the baby, clean more of the house, do some more stuff without baby in arms and maybe even get the baby clothes out :-) :-)

I went overdue with all of my babies, have had 61 extra days of pregnancy between them :-) So I have been there, done that with the overdue thing and I have found that things usually worked out better when I let nature run its course instead of meddling with it.
post #15 of 31
Didn't work for me and I tried it twice!

Had ds on day 14. What worked was using the breastpump. Went into labor after 10 minutes of that and delivered 12 hours later.

Of course, it could just be timing.

post #16 of 31

Yuck! Yuck! Yuck!

I would not recommend castro oil to anyone! With dd#2 I tried it twice to induce labor (I was dumb enough or rather desperate enough to do it 2 times) The first time it was just a great laxative and made me very ill to my stomach. The second time, by then I was oh 7-8 days overdue, I vomited and vomited from it as well as having the wonderful laxative thing going on. For about a year after I could not bare the sight or smell of OJ. (I mixed the oil into orange juice and drank it) The best thing to do is, as hard as it may be, just wait. The baby will come out when ready. DD#2 ended up being 11-12 days "late". Plus you don't want to dehydrate yourself or for that matter make yourself sick. Being very very pregnant is enough, I would not want to add to it if I did not have to.

Best of luck on the new baby. I hope labor is wonderful and everything goes well.
post #17 of 31
My hubby is quite pleased that i am so impatient these last few weeks. We are having sex quite frequently in my desperation. Hasn't done a darn thing to start labor yet, but it is fun and we are really sort of reconnecting a little. Every time we realize that with two babies it might be a long time before we get it this much again. LOL I think all I can do is wait...yet it feels good to try these old wives tales...though I know they won't work at least it keeps me busy. I would never do castor oil though. Too scared of getting sick. i hate puking more than anything!
Good luck to you! Baby will be here before you know it!
post #18 of 31
If you really want to try to start labour, without the vomiting etc, then I would recommend acupuncture. There are no negative side effects and it's acutally quite a relaxing experience, but find a good acupuncturist that is used to dealing with pregnant women. I know of one who documented his results and I believe he had about 90% of women go into labour within 2 days/2 treatments. But of course they were all 40 weeks by then so he doesn't know how much is just coincidence.
post #19 of 31

castor oil

I used it with #2 and the contractions were MUCH stronger, but the whole thing only lasted about 1/2 hour. My first was much longer, but far more bearable. But then again, the first one was only 5 lbs, 6 weeks early, the second 9-10, two weeks late! I wished I would have waited because the contractions the castor oil gave me were strong enough to break my water, but nothing else. Then my water was broken and we were on a major deadline to have a legal homebirth within the given timeframe. I spent the next 24hrs having my nipples sucked, walking up and down stairs, having accupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, taking cohash and trying to have my husband arrouse me externally. By the time real labor started I was beat! Good thing it was so fast!
post #20 of 31
I'm going to use my midwife's "special" castor oil recipe tomorrow to get things going. I was just going to wait fort he child to come on his own, but unfortunately, I'm at high risk for pre-eclampsia. My blood pressure has shot up, and my swelling has gotten really bad.

As terrible as the castor oil method may be, it's gotta be better than the pitocin drip... and that's where I'm headed if I don't give birth soon. I'm already 1.5 - 2cm dilated, so hopefully I'll be a mom by sunday!

Oh, and thanks to all the mothers who shared their castor oil stories here. It's good to know what good and bad things to expect!

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