Starting labor with castor oil has been used for a long time to induce labor. Expectant mothers drink castor oil to ready themselves for childbirth.

Its effectiveness, however, has been controversial with the medical community taking different sides on the issue. The question lies:  does castor oil really induce labor and how much castor oil to induce labor?

Medically, castor oil is popular as a natural laxative, which helps ease constipation and diarrhea. But it is this ability to expel the contents of the digestive tract that seems to be the basis why it is used to start labor. The assumption is that castor oil stimulates the bowels, which thereby irritate the uterus and cause a pregnant mother to experience contractions.

Starting labor with castor oil has been put into question for years. What makes it even more unclear is the scarcity of studies that provide information about it.

Using Castor Oil to Induce Labor May Be Effective

Some women who used the oil from the castor bean claim that it is an effective way to induce labor. They say that drinking castor oil had triggered a rousing effect in their intestines after an hour or two.

Mothers are not the only ones who support castor oil labor induction. Some doctors and midwives also recommend the use of this natural oil to kick off labor in their patients.

The Fundamentals of Pharmacology explains why castor oil has this labor-inducing ability in pregnancy. It says that castor oil’s main component, ricinoleic acid, is responsible for irritating the intestines and stimulating the uterine smooth muscle and is “used with some success to induce labor.”

Castor Oil May Be Unsafe in Labor Induction

But there are also medical practitioners who do not recommend this natural oil. They warn of castor oil’s potential side effects, such as:

  1. dehydration
  2. diarrhea or having loose bowels
  3. vomiting
  4. uterus contractions
  5. nausea
  6. fetal distress
  7. meconium in the baby

Taking castor oil in pregnancy may cause severe diarrhea and cramping, which can dehydrate the expectant mother, according to This poses a serious problem because there are some hospitals that do not allow the mother to drink any type of fluid during labor. When this happens, the mother would suffer from dehydration, which would aggravate the uterus and make her very tired to endure the physical demands of labor.

Aside from increasing the mother’s risk of a difficult childbirth, the life of the baby may be in danger as well. As the mother lacks enough bodily fluid, it may cause the baby to pass his or her stool, the meconium, into the amniotic fluid and may result to severe illness for the baby.

Consult Your Doctor First Before Taking Castor Oil

Now that you know why and why not people agree to start labor with castor oil, you probably are the best judge which side to believe. If you are convinced that it does work and plan to have a child soon, you might want to consider using castor oil as a natural labor-inducing remedy. But if you still have doubts about it, consulting your gynecologist is always the best and safest thing to do before taking any form of treatment.

Check out the next article -> Castor Oil Granules

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2 Responses to “Starting Labor with Castor Oil”

  1. Ashley says:

    I tried taking castor oil when I was 39weeks 2days. I took it 4 TBSP at 1:30pm and at about 6:30pm I had to use the bathroom and was in there for a while so if you are going to take this make sure you stay home and are close to a toilet. I started having mild contractions but they were not regular and were not very painful but noon the next day I just figured it wasnt for me and my baby is not ready to come I guess. I have had two family cousins of mine take it and it worked for them. It works for some people and not others. If you want to give it a shot go ahead just be prepared for the side effects and I wouldnt try until your atleast 40weeks.

    • Ashley says:

      I forgot to say I have been induced with my first 2 boy with pitocin and my body took to that really well and my babies were born very healthy.

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