Castor Oil to Induce Labor: 11 Benefits and Side Effects No One Told You


During your pregnancy ,as soon as you come close to your due date, you become so uncomfortable and you start to think of ways to try and get the baby out. Though there are various natural ways to induce labor and using castor oil to induce labor is one of them. Castor oil is a vegetable oil derived from the castor bean. You can easily use this oil when you are around your 40th week of pregnancy. If you have begun to dilate and efface already, then this will increase your chances of castor oil being effective at labor induction. It is also recommended to not use castor oil if you have not reached your due date.

How does castor oil work?

Castor oil works to stimulate the bowels. It can lead to cramps and tighten the muscles in the intestines. These cramps may spread to the uterus, tightening the uterine muscles and stimulating contraction. These contractions may or may not lead to the onset of active labor.

Reports and tests on how do castor oil induce labor

Reports dating back to ancient Egypt has suggested the use of castor oil to stimulate labor. The review included three trials that studied a total of 223 pregnant women in term who received a single 60-millilitre oral dose of castor oil. One of these randomized control trials took place in New York and included hundred people and it was found that pregnant women who took castor oil experienced a significant increase in the chance of starting labor in 24 hours, compared to the group that received no treatment. In fact, about 58 percent of women who took castor oil began active labor within 24 hours compared to only 4% of those who did not receive any treatment.

However, a hundred percent of women who took the castor oil reported nausea compared to zero percent of the women in the control group. There was another smaller randomized trial in Iran that included 43 pregnant women total. They found a significant increase in labor starting during the first 24 hours for women who took castor oil. 54 percent of women who took castor oil started labor within one day compared to four percent in the other group. Finally, the third study in the Cochran review was a randomized control trial in Israel that included eighty pregnant women total and the odds of entering active labor within 12 hours with three times higher in the castor oil group when compared to the other group.

How much castor oil to induce labor?

A pregnant woman is required to take several small doses, around 1-1.5 tablespoon of castor oil within every 3-4 hours. You can blend the castor oil with various fruit juices and ice. Though the higher volume of drink, the more you have to drink. Some women prefer just to do shots of castor oil and wash it down with juice or another drink. Some suggest that you use a warmer drink to remove the oily film from your mouth. You can also add it to an omelette with salsa. Typically mothers spend a lot of time in the bathroom with diarrhoea before noticing contractions. Though these contractions do not always progress to full blown labor. This can be seen as a type of cervical ripening agent anyway, which is a good step towards inducing labor soon.

How effective is castor oil to induce labor?

Castor oil is a stimulant laxative that causes contractions in the bowels, which in turn stimulates uterine contractions. Like most natural induction methods, this only leads to labor if your body is ready for labor — full term, cervix soft and dilating, etc.


How long does it take castor oil to induce labor?

Never take more than 1-2 tablespoons in a twenty-four hour period. Drink lots of water, as castor oil is a laxative and will dehydrate you. It’s best to take castor oil in the morning, as it can take 6-12 hours to work. If your body is not ready to go into labor it will not work.

11 Benefits of Castor Oil and Possible Side Effects During Pregnancy

castor oil to induce labor

The correct number of doses to induce labor

A pregnant woman is required to take several small doses, around 1-1.5 tablespoon of castor oil within every 3-4 hours. You can add it to orange juice in a mason jar and shake vigorously. Hold your breath or pinch your nose while drinking. Afterward, drink plenty of water and an electrolyte drink to keep yourself hydrated.

Apart from inducing labor, castor oil also has a number of benefits for pregnant women, and they are:

It is a powerful laxative

Castor oil is used to treat constipation. If a pregnant woman is suffering from this, then castor oil is best for her. This oil can also be used to clean out the intestines before a bowel. Castor oil is known as a stimulant laxative. It works by increasing the movement of intestines, helping the stool to come out.

Acts as a natural moisturizer

Castor oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids. This fatty acid is found in this oil due to the presence of Ricinoleic acid, and it acts as humectants. Humectants tend to prevent water loss from the skin hence, keeping the skin moisturized in a natural manner.


Stimulates wound healing

If a pregnant woman is suffering from any cuts or bruises, then castor oil is the most prominent and natural way to heal it. You just have to apply castor oil on the affected area and see how magically it works. It creates a moist environment around the wound which therefore helps in healing and effectively reduces the sores from drying out.

Amazing anti-inflammatory effects

Castor oil contains a very unique compound known as Ricinoleic acid which gives it its anti-inflammatory abilities. A pregnant woman can easily rub it around the sore joints or sore lower back and it also works wonders for those with arthritis pain or sports injuries.

Reduces acne

Castor oil stimulates the production of collage, which hydrates skin. The triglyceride fatty acids in castor oil are antiviral and antiseptic, so they help in killing the bacteria that causes acne. The Ricinoleic acid in castor oil reduces inflammation, swelling, and redness.

Fights fungus

Castor oil is widely known as an effective natural remedy due to its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. The oil is mostly made of fatty acids and out of which 90 percent is Ricinoleic acid, which is believed to be responsible for many benefits that castor oil has. It also helps treating and fungal problems found in teeth in a pregnant woman.

Side Effects of using castor oil to induce labor

Is castor oil safe?

We have looked at the effectiveness of castor oil but never to forget that there are some side effects of using castor oil too. Hence it is recommended to consult your doctor before you decide to use castor oil to induce labor because some people might experience vomiting, nausea or diarrhea while using it.

Increases risk of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

Ingesting castor oil to induce labor can stimulate the unborn to excrete in the womb. The first fecal matter passed by the unborn baby is a dark green sticky substance known as meconium. Passing meconium in the womb is a sign of fetal distress. It increases the risk of baby inhaling the meconium, which partially or completely blocks the airways. Meconium aspiration syndrome is a prominent cause of breathing problems in newborns.


Can dehydrate the mother

Diarrhea caused by castor oil might dehydrate the mother. Dehydration is harmful to the mother’s health and is a major cause of extreme weakness after childbirth. It prevents her from taking appropriate care of her newborn child. Moreover, it also slows down postpartum recovery.

Reduces milk supply

Breast milk is the best food for babies. However, dehydration tends to reduce milk supply. If you cannot give your baby sufficient breast milk, it will affect the health of the newborn and will cause developmental problems.

Painful labor

Taking castor oil to induce labor stimulates painful contraction. A number of women who had taken this oil claim that their labor pains were more painful than labor pain experienced during natural birth.

Ingesting castor oil can also cause unwanted abortion if taken before the 40th week of pregnancy.

Things to remember

Some women get the effectiveness while using castor oil for inducing labor but some others feel that it is nothing more than an old tale. The effectiveness varies for every pregnant woman. After reading the above points on its benefits and side effects, you must make a legitimate decision by concerning your doctor, to use castor oil for inducing labor or not. Also, under no circumstances, a pregnant woman should take castor oil before the 40th week of pregnancy because its consumption at an early stage of pregnancy increases the risk of preterm birth. Preterm birth makes the newborn vulnerable to severe health problems and delays healthy development of the different organs of the body.

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