Updated: May 27, 2022
Castor Oil for Labor Induction
If you read my post on Natural Labor Induction Options, I talked a little about Castor Oil. When I originally wrote that post I had no personal experience with Castor oil. In April 2021 that changed, and I updated the post with a brief line about how it didn't work.... I tried to use Castor Oil to induce my labor and this is my experience. Read my story below and feel free to ask any questions you might have in the comments below. Make sure you read to the end for an update!!!
Okay so we all know by the end of pregnancy you're probably trying to find natural labor induction methods for a variety of reasons. Even knowing that nothing is proven to be totally effective, it's hard for even me to not entertain the idea.
I shared my recent experience of false labor with ya'll. And one of the things I did to try and get things going was something I never thought I'd do.
I drank castor oil to try to induce my labor.
As the story goes, we believed my water had broken. I was contracting frequently but not effectively, and contractions had a very odd start and stop pattern. However, it was not dissimilar from my previous homebirth labor experience so we thought it was the real deal. After over 36 hours of start and stop "labor", I talked with my support team and decided to try castor oil to get things moving and grooving.
Some of the common concerns with castor oil can be explored in this blog post, but basically, many moms report nausea and diarrhea (it is a laxative), which can cause dehydration. Additionally there are concerns about castor oil possibly causing the baby pooping in utero (meaning meconium present in fluid) which can sometimes increase neonatal risks. You can read more about Castor Oil for Labor Induction here. So why did I take these risks? Well, I had tried everything else, and I was concerned about having prolonged rupture of membranes. The other option was going to the hospital for induction. I decided to take the risk... and guess what happened?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing happened for hours. And then I pooped my guts out.
And contractions STOPPED.
As I was not having signs of infection and seemed to stop leaking fluid, I decided to give it one more night to see if anything happened. Ultimately, I'm 39 weeks pregnant now... and fluid levels are great, baby is great, and besides being miserable, I'm technically great too.
So would I take castor oil again...? Given the situation, knowing what I know.... Maybe. In a situation where it's between castor oil and necessary medical induction, personally I would definitely opt to try the castor oil first, assuming I tried everything else there is to try. Would I recommend it to anyone? I never recommend any intervention without a discussion with your provider... but my recommendation would be that you only try it as a "last resort" option and understand it may not work at all. Castor Oil remains totally controversial. I've had clients opt for castor oil with both good and bad experiences. I know there is a lot of chatter these days after a certain birth story went viral about castor oil being a terrible recommendation. I really don't think it's a "bad recommendation". I think just like any other intervention or medication, it's important to consider the pros and cons and make a decision that is best for you. Will I try castor oil again in this pregnancy? As of right now, I have no plans to try castor oil again unless I'm actually extremely constipated and all else fails... and that's unlikely.... but if I do and if labor starts as a side effect, I'll take it.
I did it. I tried castor oil again shortly after I hit 39 weeks pregnant. And for a second time it made me absolutely miserable and did not stimulate labor. Finally, on May 1, when I was 40 weeks + 6 days pregnant, I gave birth at 2:30 am after a very strange labor pattern. My water finally broke 1 minute before he was born and was FULL of meconium. His 1 minute Apgar was 6, which is low, but thankfully he did not need resuscitation and his 5 minute Apgar score was 9. I can not say that the low Apgar was related to the meconium, or the castor oil, or that the meconium was related to the castor oil, but it's the most meconium I've had during any of my labors and the only time I used castor oil, so no. In the future I will not be using castor oil ever again.
What are you thoughts and experiences with Castor Oil for Labor Induction? Do you plan to induce labor with castor oil? Share in the comments below!
Jaimie is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Birth Doula, Birth Photographer, and MOM offering pregnancy, birth, and postpartum breastfeeding support for mothers. Jaimie offers virtual one-to-one support during pregnancy and postpartum, virtual breastfeeding support, online breastfeeding classes, and in person birth and breastfeeding support in Wichita Falls, Texas and the surrounding Texoma area. Check out some free pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding resources here!