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Castor oil vs. something else

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
***I am not about to induce myself. Just wanted to get that out. Please don't reply if all you are going to say is induction is bad etc.***

A friend and I were talking. She's due for a repeat csection here on the 27th and was really hoping to go into labour before then. She has asked me about castor oil in the past and as her csection date creeps up we talk a lot about everything in regards to birth. She asked me if I was going to take castor oil this time (I did with DD) and that got me thinking....

Castor oil works because it stimulates the bowels which sit close enough to your uterus that you can get "sympathetic" contractions (which if you are ready can progress into real labour). I also know that there is something about it's makeup that is similar to prostaglandins (just read that the other day though so don't quote me ).

If the main reason castor oil works is because it stimulates your bowels why wouldn't a more mild stimulant laxative work? Why is the first jump straight to castor oil? I know that it's more "harsh"/effective so you are bound to get a result (maybe not a baby but a result ) one way or another.

Could a mom take a box of Exlax as opposed to castor oil and get the same desired effect?

***Please no debating inductions and what not. This is a hypothetical, cold medicine, lack of sleep, induced train of thought. ***
post #2 of 12
Most people I know don't jump straight to castor oil first. For myself, it would be one of the last things I tried. But in general, yes, things that stimulate the intestines could jump-start a uterus that is already very close to going into labor.

Most natural "induction" methods don't actually induce labor, they just encourage labor in a body that is ready to go into labor. Things like pineapple, EPO, and spicy foods won't put a woman into labor if her body isn't already ready for it -but some methods are more uncomfortable than others, which is why I wouldn't try them first. It's much more enjoyable to eat curry with a side of pineapple than to give yourself awful diarrhea or shoot water up your tookus.

Some "natural" methods like the cohoshes are truly induction methods and can be dangerous if applied incorrectly, which is why I mention below that that would be my absolute last-ditch attempt at starting labor. I take it that your friend wants to go into labor so that she can experience it, but that she will still end up having a c-section? If that's the case, I'd stay away from cohosh and from the less-comfortable options like enema and castor oil and just do the things with less impact and leave it up to fate.

Cut and pasted/edited from a previous post I made:

*****

- sex - orgasm (regardless of whether it's from sex or solo work) causes uterine contractions; semen (absorbed vaginally or through ingestion) contains prostaglandins that help ripen the cervix
- walking, exercise
- things that stimulate the intestines (and may cause uterine contractions), like castor oil, spicy food of any sort, or an enema
- pineapple has some effect on your body's prostaglandin production, ripens the cervix
- oregano and basil - not sure how they work, but these are the reason that all those labor-inducing eggplant parmesan recipes work. It's not the eggplant, so pretty much any oregano/basil-heavy dish will do.
- evening primrose oil, applied to the cervix, to aid in prostaglandin production (you can insert a gelcap before bed and leave it in overnight)
- relaxation (sometimes you need to LET GO to let labor happen!) through rest, visualization, and some women drink a little wine
- nipple stimulation causes oxytocin to be released, which causes contractions. Do it yourself, or use the falling water in the shower, or use a breast pump, or combine it with the sex recommendation above.
- accupressure - google this to see images of where to apply pressure
- accupuncture - call around and see if practitioners specialize in labor induction
- RRL tea - uterine tonic, helps to tone the smooth muscle of the uterus when used regularly through pregnancy
- black cohosh, blue cohosh - this would be the LAST thing I tried, and I would only do it under the supervision of a very knowledgeable herbalist midwife
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Ok I know all that but what I'm asking is when the mom has gotten to the point of wanting to "induce" using castor oil why don't they go for a more gentle stimulant (what an oxymoron!)? Seems to me considering the way it works exlax would be far less harsh on your backside and if you're body is ready and accepts that form of punishment (yes punishment ) why not go about it more gently? Is it the harsh intense bowel contractions that create the sympthetic uterine ones? Is that why castor oil/enemas are more "prescribed" than something like correctol/exlax?
post #4 of 12
Oh, I'm sorry! I thought you were asking why somebody would go straight from "I want to induce" to castor oil, without trying any of the gentler stuff first. Sex vs. castor oil, I know which I'd pick.

I guess maybe more people know about castor oil, and they don't really understand how it works? It's like most old wives' tales, people don't necessarily know the mechanism behind something, so they can't generalize it to other methods that might be effective. They only know about the *magic solution* - in this case, castor oil.

Maybe?

As for me, I'd have to be pretty darn desperate to start labor before I'd do anything that cleans out the bowels like that.
post #5 of 12
I think it is the quick and massive evacuation plus the fact that castor oil has probably been used longer than things like exlax have been available.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
That would make sense. My sister also pointed out that things like exlax are not safe for pregnant women because they reallywill cause meconium due to the way your body digests it. Whereas the castor oil coats your intestines and is absorbed there if at all (since it's basically just an oil slick that makes things come on out ). I haven't googled it to see if that is indeed true about the commerical brand laxatives though.

So I guess the main reason it's castor oil is you're getting a more efficient and larger bang for your buck.
post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by OtherMother'n'Madre View Post
That would make sense. My sister also pointed out that things like exlax are not safe for pregnant women because they reallywill cause meconium due to the way your body digests it.
Several MWs have told me castor oil induced babies have a much higher rate of mecomium in the amniotic fluid.

Quote:
Whereas the castor oil coats your intestines and is absorbed there if at all (since it's basically just an oil slick that makes things come on out ). I haven't googled it to see if that is indeed true about the commerical brand laxatives though.
Actually castor oil is an irritant that cause (sometimes violent) spasms in the intestines. If it weren't so highly refined it would be a deadly poison. Ricin is the chemical they filter out. There are several documented cases of the KGB using ricin in assassination plots during the Cold War.

~BV
post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by bryonyvaughn View Post
Several MWs have told me castor oil induced babies have a much higher rate of mecomium in the amniotic fluid.
yeah, but i wonder if that has more to do with those babies just being past the due date and naturally releasing the meconium?
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
: I have read that while the meconium rates are higher they are generally in babies already past dates and that right there increases the chances also. It's too difficult to pinpoint one or the other.
post #10 of 12
I've read that an enema would do the same thing as castor oil...... I've never done either so I don't know which is less horrible! Although so people do the CO and don't have much of any effect.

I've wondered the same question, OP. There's lots of things I can choose to eat that will give me the runs! TMI!!! But maybe it's more than that....
post #11 of 12
I used castor oil with my second pregnancy to avoid a medical induction. It was not at all unpleasant and worked really well. When faced with pitocin, etc I think it's a much better choice.
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by pamamidwife View Post
yeah, but i wonder if that has more to do with those babies just being past the due date and naturally releasing the meconium?
I haven't noticed any difference in meconium rates between post-dates moms who took castor oil and post dates moms who didn't. Castor oil and post dates are associative, not causitive. The main reason you'd give castor oil is for post dates, and post dates increases the rate of meconium. And checking the "post dates" babies out, the mec babies generally looked post-dates, and the no-mec babies didn't.


Just an FYI, use organic, hexane-free castor oil, it works beautifully without causing all those painful, horrible cramps.
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