Can Castor Oil help with an Overdue Pregnancy

Castor oil has been used as a way to induce labor for hundreds of years, and maybe even longer than that. The late term pregnant woman is given Castor oil to eat or drink. This causes diarrhea and the bowels to cramp and clear. The results are often that of inducing labor. It is believed that the cramping and contracting of the bowels and intestines cause the uterus to start cramping. This cramping can then lead to contractions and work its way into active labor.

Does it really work?

Actually, this is one of the few methods of inducing labor at home that actually works. As long as the cervix is ready the chances that this method will work are fairly high. However, it does take time. Castor oil takes up to three hours to clear the bowels. Usually, if it is going to work, contractions of the uterus won’t happen until after this point. That could mean hours and hours after you took the Castor oil. In addition to taking time, it is rather dangerous.


The biggest concern with Castor oil is dehydration. After major bouts of diarrhea caused from the laxative causing nature of Castor oil, it is easy to understand why a woman would become dehydrated. It is also hard to keep hydrated once labor begins. If too much water is consumed it is possible that it will come back up during the process of birthing. Being dehydrated can be a serious problem. The more dehydrated a mother is the bigger the issue. It is possible that an IV of fluids will have to be added to protect the mom from sever dehydration.


The next problem that is common with this type of induced labor is that there is a risk of exhaustion. Labor, in the best of conditions is difficult and tiring. However, there are many times when labor is a long, painful, and difficult process. With Castor oil, this process follows several hours of diarrhea. Diarrhea on its own can be tiring, but follow it by a hard and difficult labor and you may not be able to handle the results. It is here that some women are not able to handle labor. This can result in stress to the baby including a drop in fetal heart beat and even death. It is also possible that your baby will have to be taken Cesarean section for safety reasons. A Cesarean section after hours and hours of difficult labor is harder to heal from and can cause issues of its own.

All in all, while this method works and has been used for years, it isn’t a good idea. It isn’t a method that is recommended by many, and if you do decide to try it make sure your doctor and or mid-wife are on board with this method of iduction. It may not be worth it for you. In either case, you want to make sure your doctor or mid-wife knows how to take care of you and your baby as youprogress through your labor.