Castor oil? Is it safe to help bring on labour?
⭐️ WHAT IS CASTOR OIL? ⭐️
It is a vegetable oil derived from the seeds of a castor plant. It smells and tastes revolting, by all accounts.
⭐️ WHAT DOES IT DO? ⭐️
It is used for INDUSTRIAL purposes as a lubricating agent. It has historically been used as a very potent laxative. Some people use it on their hair and skin too. It is also used as an abortative in poor countries.
⭐️ WHY IS IT DANGEROUS? ⭐️
Would you really put something that's used as an industrial lubricant into your body to force labour?
However, it's the laxative effect that makes it dangerous. The laxative effect stimulates your bowels and can make you very, very unwell. The muscle contractions of your bowels can then trigger intense uterine contractions.
Castor oil also contains an active compound that brings on contractions in both your digestive tract and your uterus, making it doubly potent.
The diarrhoea puts you at risk of dehydration and exhaustion; not fun if labour is also triggered. Who really wants to go into labour in that state? Not me!
The severe cramping can cause your baby's heart rate to soar dramatically, causing fetal distress. A common side effect of this is meconium release. The active compound in castor oil which causes a bad tummy for mummy can also cross the placenta, which again carries a risk of meconium release.
Your baby could then potentially inhale this - babies inhale their amniotic fluid during practice breaths - causing meconium aspiration.
Meconium aspiration can cause infection, lung damage, brain damage through hypoxia, and even stillbirth/neonatal death.
ALSO, it is very rich in vitamin E which is toxic to your baby in levels above the RDA!
WAIT FOR IT...
BUT I WAS TOLD TO TRY IT!
The NICE guidelines clearly state that castor oil is not recommended and that healthcare professionals should NOT be advising it.
In some countries such as the US, some older doctors are still advising it. This is because health and safety guidelines there are outdated compared to elsewhere and haven't taken the new research and findings into account.
It seems that countries without social healthcare also have less rigid 'rules' as to what doctors can and cannot advise; in the UK, we have the public healthcare system known as the NHS. Our doctors are expected to give consistent advice. In other countries without the same system, it's a free for all. Doctors can act on opinion. Thankfully, it only seems to be the older generation of physicians who still think it's safe.
IN ADDITION; if you're found to have used it to induce labour in the UK, Social Services (our CPS) will be informed. It is endangerment!
⭐️ I USED IT AND MY KIDS ARE FINE! ⭐️
Lucky you! Think of the mums who have lost babies thanks to this evil stuff - we have a few ladies in the group who were told to take it by grandmothers, aunties, Google... some of their babies didn't make it due to meconium aspiration.
The 'I was fine' statetement is anecdotal and doesn't trump the science behind why castor oil is dangerous.
⭐️ SO WHY WAS IT ADVISED YEARS AGO? ⭐️
Because new research found that it wasn't safe. Same thing applies to smoking, which used to be advised by doctors! Castor oil caused issues even back then, it's just that no one made the link.
⭐️ WHAT ABOUT OTHER METHODS? ⭐️
Cohosh is one that I've seen a few times; black cohosh is used to cause miscarriage so highly inadvisable. By association, blue cohosh also should not be used.
Long story short, it's not safe to take any substance to bring on labour. 'Natural' does NOT necessarily mean safe.
Semen contains proglastins which are also found in induction pessaries, so have plenty of sex. Walk. Dance. Pineapple contains bromelain which can soften the cervix in very large amounts and is safe to try.
Please don't even consider taking castor oil or cohosh. Is it worth 9 months of pregnancy to come home from the hospital with no baby?
Do NOT recommend these substances to other members; if they use it and things go wrong, it's not you who will be suffering!