Castor oil is a popular home remedy for treating constipation. Some say that castor oil can also be used to induce labor, as it can stimulate the smooth muscles in the intestines, thus stimulating muscles in the uterus. Is it true? Can you use it to induce labor at 39 weeks of pregnancy?
Can You Use Castor Oil to Induce Labor at 39 Weeks?
Although using castor oil to induce labor was a commonly followed practice by midwives and doctors if a woman passes 39 weeks, medical opinions on using this method vary a lot, with some people discouraging it.
Women who have a high-risk pregnancy should consult their health care provider before using castor oil or avoid its use.
Possible Side Effects of Castor Oil
Some of the side effects that are associated with the use of taking castor oil at 39 weeks to induce labor include:
- Diarrhea and cramps due to the laxative effect of castor oil
- Vomiting due to the taste of the oil
Taking castor oil to induce labor may also cause side effects on babies, as the laxative effect can affect the baby, causing the meconium, the first stool of the baby, to be passed during labor. If the meconium is inhaled into the baby's lungs, the baby may develop pneumonia. However, there are still arguments over this side effect. Here are some facts that can help you make a decision:
- Babies who are delivered after 40 weeks of pregnancy are more likely to pass meconium during labor, as their digestive system have matured.
- Babies who didn't use castor oil to induce labor may also pass meconium before labor.
- More researches have to be done to prove that substances in castor oil can be passed to the baby through the placenta.
Benefits of Castor Oil Induction
Taking castor oil at 39 weeks to induce labor has the following benefits:
- You can save your energy for the dilation.
- You will not pass stools during labor, as you have emptied your bowel thanks to its laxative effect.
- Castor oil is a more natural way to induce labor, so if your body is not ready, it will not force you into labor, unlike medical induction.
Should You Induce?
A full term pregnancy is reached when you are at 39 weeks pregnant, and 41 weeks is considered as late term, while 42 weeks can be considered as post-term. After your pregnancy gets to full term, you may need an induction in the following cases:
- Two weeks have passed since your due date, and there are still no signs of labor.
- Your water was broken, but you have no contractions.
- You have uterus infection.
- You have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other diseases that make your pregnancy a risky one.
- Your baby does not grow normally.
- You have placental abruption.
How to Use Castor Oil for Induction
- Prepare your body by drinking a lot of water and getting a good night of sleep.
- Take a tablespoon of castor oil every 3-4 hours. If you find the taste unpleasant, then pinch your nose so that it becomes easier to drink, or you can add the castor oil to some apple juice to make the taste better.
- Keep drinking plenty of water, and eat nutritious snacks during the day. This will help you avoid exhaustion caused by castor oil.
- Once you feel contractions or other signs of labor, go to the hospital immediately, or you can do this process under the supervision of your doctor.
Other Natural Ways to Induce Labor
Taking castor oil at 39 weeks may be a good choice for some people; however, if you do not want to use it, here are some other ways you can use. Just remember to consult your doctor first before you try.
Some simple exercises like taking a walk or climbing the stairs can be good alternatives to induce labor. Gravity can help your baby go lower to the cervix.
2. Nipple Stimulation
You or your partner can use the nipple stimulation method to help induce labor as it promotes the uterus to contract. Breastfeeding the child after birth or the same kind of stimulation will also help the uterus to shrink as well.
Some acupuncture therapists can help induce labor through stimulation of certain pressure points. Make sure that you find a trained and certified therapist to do this.
4. Spicy Foods
Eating spicy food makes your body release prostaglandins which can trigger the contractions in the uterus. More researches have to be done to prove this method, but giving it a try will cause you no harm.
5. Evening Primrose Oil
Taking castor oil at 39 weeks can induce labor, so can the evening primrose oil, because this oil can help soften the cervix and make the process of childbirth easier. You can take this oil by mouth, or you can try to inset it in your vagina.