Castor Oil to Induce Labor


Over a period of time, people are experimenting with different methods to help in inducing labor naturally. Some people believe that castor oil can be helpful for this purpose. This particular oil is suggested by some midwives as an alternative method for inducing labor. Here we will know whether castor oil can induce labor or not. But before that, we will discuss a few important facts regarding this method. Let’s start. Firstly, let’s know what castor oil is.

In this article:

What is Castor Oil?
Castor Oil for Labor: Does it Work?
Is it Safe?
Risks and Side Effects
Other Ways to Induce Labor

All You Need to Know about Castor Oil to Induce Labor

What is Castor Oil?

Castor oil is considered to be multi-purpose vegetable oil. It needs to extract oil from the seeds of a plant named Ricinus Communis. The seeds are called as castor beans. These beans contain a kind of toxic enzyme which is called ricin. To deactivate the toxic enzyme, castor oil needs to undergo a healing process, so that it can be used safely.

The oil contains a lot of health benefits, it is used for medical, pharmaceutical, cosmetics and industrial purposes. It has another important usage also, it is used as an additive in skincare products, food, medications etc. It is used as a biodiesel fuel component and industrial lubricant also. Some people use castor oil as a natural treatment for skin ailments and constipation. Most of the people consider castor oil as a laxative. Other usefulness of castor oil:

  1. able to treat inflammation and pain
  2. able to stimulate the immune system
  3. able to treat gastrointestinal problems

Now, let’s discuss whether castor oil works for inducing labor or not. There are certain factors regarding this. Let’s have a look.

Castor oil for labor


Castor Oil for Labor: Does it Work?

Many people know castor oil as a laxative than a labor-inducer. According to some studies, it is said that a small amount of castor oil ingestion can cause spasms in the intestines. It can stimulate vagal nerves and bowels. And this stimulation irritates the uterus. It is also said that this particular oil can reduce the electrolytes and fluid absorption in the intestines. Though there is not enough evidence but it is thought that castor oil might promote the prostaglandin receptors release.

The most important question is: does it work?

But the answer is mixed. Scientists have shown in their research, half of those pregnant women who were dosed with castor oil went into active labor within one day, this percentage is compared to only 4℅ of those women who didn’t take that dose. But there is also a fact that there is no harmful effect of castor oil to mother or baby, while this process is not very helpful also in inducing labor. It is said that this method can be helpful and effective in beginning labor. But castor oil is considered to cause painful and irregular contractions. And it can be stressful for baby and mother. It can also cause the baby to pass the first stool, before delivery, which can be problematic in future.

Now, let’s know if this method is safe or not.

Is it Safe?

It is very important to consult with your doctor before using castor oil to induce labor. Because it may not be the best option for you and your baby. You should consider some important factors, such as your pregnancy history and gestational age, before using this oil for labor induction. If you get permission to drink castor oil from your doctor after passing your due date, you should have the exact dosage that is suggested by your doctor. Because castor oil is considered safe when consumed in a small amount, a large amount of castor oil can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea.

Castor oil is considered to be a non-harmful liquid for the mother and the fetus. But there are some factors, that you should consider. Castor oil stimulates the bowel and it will dehydrate you and you are inducing diarrhea. As your body will be dehydrated, it will distress your unborn child. It is suspected by some researchers that castor oil can cross the placenta. And if it will cause you diarrhea, it will do the same with your baby.

Risks and Side Effects

There is no evidence about any direct risks or dangers for the fetus in using castor oil to induce labor. But the mother may experience a few potential side effects due to castor oil ingestion. This includes:

1) Diarrhea

2) Stomach area cramping

3) Dehydration

4) Non-labor fetus contractions

5) Vomiting, nausea

That’s why, women who have gastrointestinal problems or a sensitive stomach, should avoid castor oil ingestion. Those women who had a cesarean delivery should also avoid taking castor oil during their pregnancy.

According to a vast majority of researches, there is no evidence that found any significant difference in the length of labor or the type of birth. There is also no evidence about any increased problem such as infection. But the biggest risk is how well the mother tolerated the castor oil. According to a study, it is said that every mother who had castor oil ingestion experienced nausea.

Some doctors never recommend castor oil ingestion as there are potential side effects such as fetal distress, dehydration, meconium of the baby.

Now, let’s discuss a few other ways to induce labor.

Other Ways to Induce Labor

There are some natural or non-medical ways to induce labor at home. But some of these methods may not be safe. So it is very important to consult with a doctor before taking any decision. There are certain factors to consider before deciding on any method. The following are some of the natural ways to induce labor:


Doctors advice to do exercise during pregnancy period. It is said that exercise can induce labor but there is no specific evidence regarding this fact.

Herbs and Homeopathy

Some people recommend herbs and homeopathic remedies for inducing labor. But according to some studies, some herbs can be effective to induce labor, though there is not enough evidence about the fact that they are safe to use. It is very important to discuss this with your doctor before trying this method.


According to some studies, some foods are considered to be capable of inducing labor, such as pineapple, spicy foods. But there is no proper evidence. These foods can worsen acid reflux, which is already a common problem in pregnancy. It is thought that pineapple has bromelain called an enzyme, which may soften the cervix.

Nipples Stimulation

According to a few pieces of research, rolling or rubbing nipples gently may release the oxytocin hormone, which may help in inducing labor.

Sexual Intercourse

It is said that sex during pregnancy can help in inducing labor as the orgasm cause the contractions of uterine. But some studies proved that there is no difference in delivery and labor whether or not the woman had sex during pregnancy. Even sex is not advisable during pregnancy as it can cause vaginal bleeding which may lead to putting both the mother and baby at risk.

However, people should avoid these types of methods in order to induce labor as there is no proper scientific evidence to prove the effectiveness of these methods for this purpose. It is much safer to consult with a doctor first before taking any step during pregnancy. Inducing labor before 40 weeks can cause a risk for the fetus. Using castor oil for this purpose may cause certain side effects also. A doctor only can recommend the proper advice to help induce labor in a clinical setting there is a need.