Castor oil to induce labor

FAQs: Can Castor Oil Help Induce Labor Safely?

April 16, 2019
2 min read

If your due date has come and gone, you may be starting to wonder whether there’s anything you could do to give your little one an encouraging nudge — or an eviction notice. You may have heard about some old wives' tales or so-called natural methods for inducing labor, such as drinking castor oil.

Your healthcare provider is the person you should ask about safe ways to induce labor. In the meantime, check out our FAQs to learn what castor oil is, what its side effects might be, and why experts don’t recommend it for inducing labor.

What's in this article:

What Is Castor Oil? Does Castor Oil Actually Induce Labor? Does Castor Oil Have Side Effects? Are There Safe Ways to Induce Labor?

What Is Castor Oil?

Castor oil is made from the beans of the castor plant. The oil contains ricinoleic acid, which, after your body absorbs it, is then released by the intestines, creating a laxative effect. This is why castor oil is sometimes prescribed for relieving constipation. It can also be prescribed for emptying the bowels in preparation for an examination or surgery.

Does Castor Oil Actually Induce Labor?

Castor oil has been suggested as an alternative method for inducing labor in the past by some midwives. It was believed to stimulate contractions in the uterus, in a similar way to the way it stimulates contractions in the intestines. However, there is not enough medical evidence to support claims that castor oil can help to induce labor.

Although it’s totally understandable that you might want labor to start once your pregnancy is full term, again, note that castor oil has not been proven as effective in inducing labor and carries some risk. Be sure to consult your healthcare provider, who will know when it’s time to medically induce labor, and when it’s best to try to be patient for a little while longer.

Does Castor Oil Have Side Effects?

Castor oil can interfere with your system's ability to absorb nutrients, and in some cases taking castor oil can lead to side effects such as

  • diarrhea
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • allergic reactions such as rashes, itching, hives and/or swelling of your face, lips, or tongue. (Contact your provider immediately if you experience any allergic reactions.)
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Are There Safe Ways to Induce Labor?

Yes. There are some situations in which your healthcare provider may recommend that the safest course of action is inducing labor. These may include if you are a week or more past your baby's due date, if your health or your baby's health is at risk if the pregnancy continues, or if the amniotic sac has broken but contractions haven’t begun yet.

In these types of cases, your healthcare provider may recommend inducing labor by medication or by one of a few different procedures that either rupture the amniotic sac or help open the cervix with the aim of encouraging contractions to start.

If you're growing impatient and ready to meet your little one, hang in there, and always feel free to reach out to your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns. Whether your baby is born in a few hours, days, or weeks from now, the thrilling moment you meet your little one is getting closer.

To take your mind off the waiting, why not check you have everything ready and in order, including having your hospital bag packed and assembling all the diapers and supplies you’ll need in the weeks after your baby is born. You can also use this time to download the Pampers Rewards app so you can start browsing the rewards you can get for all those diaper purchases you’ll be making.

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