Castor oil at 41 weeks?? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 05-14-2013, 09:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Today I am 41 weeks and 1 day, this is my first pregnancy.  Healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy so far- but have been very uncomfortable the past couple weeks. Consented to my first cervical check today and found out that there is NO dilation and cervix is tilted back and hard.  I have been planning for a natural unmedicated birth- using hypnobirthing techniques I took 5 weeks of classes for.  My plan is to labor at home as long as possible before going to the hospital to deliver.  I have been doing all the recommended "natural" remedies out there to help get things started (walking a lot, swimming, red raspberry leaf tea, squats, acupuncture 4 days ago, acupressure massage, birthing ball bouncing, etc.)- except I haven't been having very much sex due to it just being difficult to find a position that works for us and I haven't felt "in the mood" (sorry- i know TMI).  My OBGYN told me today that if I don't go into labor by 42 weeks, I will need to be hospitalized to be induced- and if the cervix is still not ripened, I will need to get Cervadil put in with the hopes of achieving this.  To me, the prospect of having to do all this would be like having one of my WORST nightmares come true.  I have A LOT of anxiety centered around any sort of medical intervention or hospital stay- and I have been this way since a child (due to several traumatic medical-related incidents I experienced as a kid).  This is embarrassing to say- but I get SOOOO tense even with routine vaginal exams, blood draws, etc-  for example today I got myself so worked up about the vaginal exam that the Dr. had to make 2 different attempts because I "clamped up" and tears started streaming down my face.  This also happened with my trans-vaginal ultrasound at 13 weeks.  Anyhow....I would REALLY like to try and avoid induction at all costs (except for true harm to my baby)- not only to avoid facing my own fears but also because I feel like induction can make labor a lot worse.  So, I am considering taking castor oil- and there seems to be a lot of conflicting info out there.  I would like to find out if there are any other women out there in (or who have been in) a similar situation (well past due date with no cervical ripening) who have tried castor oil, and what the results were. Also, please let me know how much you took.  Thanks in advance!

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#2 of 10 Old 05-15-2013, 04:41 AM
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I have not tried the castor oil technique but, like you said, there are very different opinions about it. However, I have heard that it makes you go into labor by causing intestinal contractions but I really am not sure how the science of it all works. I do know, however, is that if you won't go into labor and want to avoid an induction you may want to ask your doctor about a membrane sweep. I had it done and began contractions the next morning and had my son 4 days later. I am one of those that truly believe in doing everything as natural as possible but it sure beats being induced. 

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#3 of 10 Old 05-15-2013, 05:47 AM
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No advice about caster oil, just wanted to say please don't beat yourself up for your anxiety. There is NOTHING normal about a doctor sticking his hand up your vagina, it's enough to make anyone tense up! Could you decline all cervical checks from now on? That's perfectly acceptable IMO! Simply state they are making you far more anxious than you feel comfortable with and you don't want it to inhibit the progression of your labor or pregnancy.

Also, it's normal for the average first time mom to deliver AFTER 40 weeks so you are still normal! My second son arrived at 41.5 weeks, the day after I checked my dilation and was not dilated at all!! He came out in less than 4 hours also!

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#4 of 10 Old 05-15-2013, 09:25 AM
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41 weeks is the average for first time mothers (assuming they're not induced by doctors before then).  PLEASE don't beat yourself up.  Try to relax for the next few days.  I was totally undilated and firm up until the day I went into labor at 41 weeks.  My doctor couldn't even do a membrane sweep because I was so tightly closed.  And three days later I was in labor and everything was fine.  I know it seems like the clock is ticking, but try to do your best to relax, go for long walks, and get some sleep if you can.


As far as castor oil goes, everyone from my doctor to my Bradley instructor said it wasn't a good idea.  It's efficacy is somewhat questionable and it can cause diarrhea and dehydration, which makes other interventions much more likely.  But, if I were faced with an automatic induction at 42 weeks, I might try it the night before.  I don't know.


I would also work with your provider on a compromise.  She cannot force you to be induced.  You don't have to show up at all for an induction.  She can drop you as a patient, but the better option for both of you would be to see if you can compromise with a NST at 42 weeks to ensure adequate fluid levels and placental health.  That might give you a day or two of leeway before they really push induction.


Good luck!  I'm hoping you go into labor soon on your own.  Just remember that dilation means almost nothing, which is why many people on this board refuse cervical checks before labor.  The numbers just stress mothers out and don't actually tell them anything. 

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#5 of 10 Old 05-15-2013, 02:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the input, it is all really helpful. 


Just to update-- I did go ahead and try some castor oil last night- only 1/2 tablespoon.  3 and 1/2 hours later I woke up with contractions!  They were regular and close together (5 min) for about 4 hours, but only lasted about 30-40 seconds.  When I would lie down, they would be a lot more intense, so I had to walk around during them.  I called my doula, and she advised to try and get some rest- so I laid down, breathed through several contractions, then dozed off to sleep for almost 2 hours.  When I woke up, all contractions had subsided, and there have been none since.  I did have 3 or 4 bowel movements during the contractions- but no diarrhea or intestinal cramping.   Hoping things get started back up soon...I'll keep you posted!!

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#6 of 10 Old 05-15-2013, 02:40 PM
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Try 3 ounces in orange juice, less than that won't do much and take it in the a.m. As it takes about 6 hours to kick in if it's going to and you don't want to put yourself into labor at night (sleep is key!). You can always decline induction too! They can do a scan and if your fluid levels are normal and the baby is moving you don't have to be induced. Some people/families just cook babies longer...ask your mom how many weeks she was when she went into labor w you.

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#7 of 10 Old 05-15-2013, 03:23 PM
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To ripen the cervix, many women take evening primrose oil.  You can take some by mouth and insert a gel capsule vaginally before you go to bed.  If you poke a little hole in it with a pin, it helps the oil come out.  There is more info if you google.  Good luck!

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#8 of 10 Old 05-15-2013, 03:37 PM
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I don't know much about caster oil or how/when someone should use it.  Just wanted to add that you are so close to meeting your baby!  Try not to get so upset and nervous about timelines your doctor is pushing on you.  


Good luck!

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#9 of 10 Old 05-15-2013, 05:14 PM
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Granted, this is just one person's advice, and I don't know how true it is, but our childbirth educator made a big deal about not taking castor oil to induce. She said it's powerful and not to be messed with because while it can start contractions, it can also cause bowel movements in the fetus, and that the resulting meconium in the amniotic fluid would be dangerous for the fetus to inhale. 


She shared a story about a woman (her client as a doula) who took 3TBL at 38wks (I think?) and managed to kick-start herself into lots of contractions, but not cervical ripening or full natural labor. I forget the specific chain of events, but she was transferred out of the birth center and ended up pit-induced anyway. 


I know you already took some, so I don't want to freak you out, but this is just what I've heard, and you might consider it before taking any more. Remember that inducing with ANYthing is already "not natural," so I wouldn't mess with it too much- especially if it's not under the care of a midwife or doctor. 


If you believe in natural labor, then that means being patient for it to begin on it's own. 

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#10 of 10 Old 05-15-2013, 05:31 PM
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I've seen both castor oil inductions and none past due dates, all with varying results. It seems to be too much of a crapshoot (no pun intended) for me to consider it. You're soooo average right now at 41 weeks, and I am sorry you are being pressured.


I totally second the stretch and sweep of the membranes. I did that in the evenings at 41 weeks 5 days and gave birth at 42 weeks 1 day...I did it at 40 weeks 3 days and gave birth at 40 weeks 5 days :)

The cervix will draw back as a sort of protection method so with my last the midwife had to sort of pull it forward before she could stretch and sweep.


Since it sounds like you're doing every thing else, I would totally try the stretch and sweep.

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