Castor oil is becoming popular as a treatment for various body ailments. But one of the functions of this oil that is still controversial lies in labor induction and how to induce labor.
Delivering a baby is a high-risk procedure, especially because it concerns two lives. Not only is the baby at risk for complications, mothers may also suffer from potential conditions that could affect their wellbeing. Since it is such a sensitive issue, it is vital to look into any treatment or medicinal concoction that could affect the safe delivery of the baby. This of course, includes castor oil.
What is the history of castor oil to induce labor and how does it work?
Castor oil as a means to induce labor has been used ever since the era of Ancient Egyptians. Today, 93% of natural health providers use castor oil as a means to bring about the delivery process. Although there are some doctors and midwives who are agreeable to the practice, there is no concrete scientific evidence of the effectiveness of castor oil on pregnant women.
Castor oil as a way to induce labor works by the stimulation of the bowels. The oil is highly known for its laxative properties. It works by promoting the contraction and relaxation of the bowels, imitating peristalsis or the natural movement of the large and small intestines. This action can spread to the neighboring organs, such as the uterus. The natural onset of labor is caused by the contractions of the uterus as stimulated by the hormone oxytocin, which coaxes the baby out. Castor oil imitates the action of oxytocin, therefore inducing early labor.
Is Castor Oil Safe for Labor Induction? The possible side effects
One of the greatest concerns of castor oil induction is the safety of the procedure. Since there is no concrete scientific evidence that vouches for this, there is still a cloud of doubt on its true effectiveness and safety.
Castor oil may produce dangerous side effects such as dehydration, fetal distress, and meconium staining. Dehydration can likely happen because castor oil can cause diarrhea, allowing the pregnant woman to lose needed body fluids. Since the oil also promotes bowel movement, this may be reflected in the baby, causing an early passage of stool. The baby’s stool is called meconium, and when the fetus defecates inside the mother, this could be toxic and highly dangerous for the pregnant woman and the infant.
Why not use modern science for induction?
The advent of modern science has produced technological advancements that were not possible before. To help overdue pregnant mothers deliver their baby on time, synthetic drugs that stimulate uterus contractions have been produced. This is widely known as Syntocinon or Pitocin.
These drugs although still with side effects are generally considered to be safer than castor oil since they have already gone sufficient drug testing. The dosages are also known and doctors have more experience on the drug and are more able to handle any reactions to it.
Although castor oil remains to be a relatively effective way of bringing about labor, the potential side effects and risks are too great to outweigh. Delivering a baby is already faced with many potential complications and risks, it is not sensible to add any more that could possibly harm both the mother and the infant.
Thank you for reading Castor Oil and Labor Induction – Is it Safe?.