Labour contractions

Castor Oil and Labor: Myths and Realities

Alice Marini
By Alice Marini. Updated: March 28, 2017
Castor Oil and Labor: Myths and Realities

It is true that castor oil can induce labor, but only in some women, and with unpleasant side effects.

Many women who hit the 37th week of pregnancy ask: does castor oil induce labor? Castor oil labor induction is not completely a myth, and there are some castor oil labor success stories around. However, before trying this laxative that is also an amazing hair thickener, one should know how to use castor oil for labor, castor oil labor induction dosage, how long it takes for castor oil to induce labor, and castor oil labor risks. That is why today at oneHOWTO we will discuss the myths and realities concerning castor oil and labor. Don't forget to consult your doctor before taking castor oil.


  1. Castor oil and labor
  2. Does castor oil induce labor?
  3. How to use castor oil for labor
  4. How long does it take for castor oil to induce labor?
  5. Castor oil labor risks

Castor oil and labor

Castor oil is a liquid, oil laxative. It is thick, yellowish in color and similar in appearance to cooking oil. The taste of castor oil is reportedly unpleasant. It is a powerful laxative. Castor oil is available in most health stores.

Labor is the process during which the foetus leaves the uterus. It starts with the first contractions and ends with the birth. Labor usually occurs between the 37th and the 40th week of pregnancy, although it can happen earlier and later than that.

Does castor oil induce labor? Let's discover it...

Does castor oil induce labor?

Castor oil causes contractions in the bowel, which are not dissimilar to labor contractions. As a consequence, the uterus might begin to contract as well, starting labor.

Another way in which castor oil might kick start labor is by dehydrating the body, but that is risky, as we will see.

Moreover, the ricinoleic acid contained in castor oil stimulates contractions via the prostaglandin receptors located in the uterus. The irritation in the uterus stimulates the prostaglandin levels, causing contractions.

Remember that castor oil provokes stomach cramps, diarrea, vomit and dehydration, so bear in mind its effects before taking it to start labor.

One very important thing to bear in mind when answering the question: does castor oil induce labor, is the only about 57% of women who take castor oil go into labor, so you have a big chance of failure.

Another important aspect regarding castor oil labor induction is that, unlike medical induction, it probably will not work if the body is not ready for delivery. Anyway no one should experiment with castor oil before their due date, as it can be risky for the baby.

Now that your know how and why castor oil induces labor, let's see the practicalities.

How to use castor oil for labor

When wondering how to take castor oil to induce labor, one should always talk to their health practitioner. However, there are a few guidelines you can use:

Castor oil labor induction dosage: 1 tablespoon is the castor oil dosage usually recommended to start labor. Definitely no more than 2 tablespoons over 24 hours. Midwives suggest taking castor oil with your favourite beverage as the taste of castor oil can be awful to some.

Other considerations on how to use castor oil for labor:

  1. Never exceed the dosage recommended by your doctor
  2. Drink plenty of water both before and after taking it
  3. Do not use castor oil for labor induction before your due date
  4. Do not take castor oil if you are already in labor as it might get very uncomfortable
  5. Never take castor oil before consulting your doctor about it

Now that you know how much castor oil to induce labor, we can answer some more questions about castor oil and labor.

Castor Oil and Labor: Myths and Realities - How to use castor oil for labor

How long does it take for castor oil to induce labor?

Usually castor oil produces vomit, diarrhoea and cramps 2 to 6 hours after taking it. It can induce labor 5 to 24 hours after taking it.

Knowing how long it takes for castor oil to induce labor, if your health practitioner gives you the green light, you can start drinking lots and lots of water, get a good night's sleep, drink plenty of water again in the morning, eat your breakfast and take the castor oil, so that you are well rested and hydrated. This is to prevent castor oil labor risks, read below.

Castor oil labor risks

The risks of inducing labor with castor oil are a matter of debate. We will list them here:

  • Castor oil causes diarrhoea and cramping, which can be uncomfortable and make you feel miserable while giving birth.
  • The severe diarrhoea caused by castor oil might dehydrate you, dehydration can be aggravated if you give birth in a hospital where they do not allow you to drink. Dehydration can cause more labor pain, make you less capable of dealing with labor, and may even be associated with a higher risk of the baby passing meconium. That is why we recommended drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Some doctors claim that castor oil can pass through the placenta to the baby and increase the chance of the baby passing a stool, called meconium, which can lead to severe complications in the baby.
  • Castor oil can give you a false labor because of the diarrhoea cramps, which can make you disappointed and tired.
  • Castor oil to induce labor can make you exhausted.

Now that you know all the information regarding castor oil and labor, you can decide whether or not you want to use castor oil for labor, but never decide before consulting your doctor.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Castor Oil and Labor: Myths and Realities, we recommend you visit our Family health category.

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Castor Oil and Labor: Myths and Realities