When you’re sitting around twiddling your thumbs after your original due date has passed, you might start brainstorming ways to get your baby out more quickly. Even if you had the most delightful pregnancy of all your friends, there comes a certain point when enough is enough. If you’re in the stage before your doctor suggests labor induction but after your due date, there are a few home remedies you can try to get your bundle of joy moving faster. One method many women choose is to consume castor oil.

Castor oil, though it sounds like what your husband uses to wax the car, is actually safe to ingest and has similar properties to laxatives. Many people don’t use it for a laxative because it is so strong and often causes cramping and discomfort. Its strength is what makes it perfect for labor induction. It is derived from the castor bean, and for decades people have used it to stimulate the uterus and set labor into motion.

Studies show that castor oil to induce labor doesn’t work for everyone. Biologically, it’s easy to explain why the oil might induce labor. The contents irritate the cells in the uterus, which causes movement. When women do find it is successful, they are usually in the bathroom with diarrhea before they notice their first contractions. Even if labor does not immediately follow these initial movements, it primes the body for labor in many instances.

If you’re anxiously awaiting your baby’s arrival after forty weeks of gestation, your instincts might be telling you it’s time, and you’ll probably want to believe them. Castor oil is safe to try, so there’s no reason not to throw it into a recipe. Many women choose to put it into a smoothie so they don’t taste it. Hot tea is another way to mask the taste.

If you do consume castor oil in hopes of labor, make sure you’re prepared in every way. The oil could give you serious diarrhea in the first few hours, so have plenty of fluids on hand to stay properly hydrated. You could even vomit, so stay on top of your potential dehydration. Make sure you’ve had a conversation about it with your doctor as well to make sure the strategy is approved. You should also make sure you’re ready to rush to the hospital in case it works. Have your overnight labor bag packed, your camera charged, and your husband on call when you sip your first and last castor oil smoothie.

Source: Sorin Tunaru et al: Castor Oil Induces Laxation And Uterus Contraction Via Ricinoleic Acid Activating Prostaglandin EP3 Receptors. National Academy of Sciences Volume 109 Issue 23 May 2012

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