Is castor oil useful for inducing labour?
Drinking castor oil is a popular method used by pregnant women to induce labour.

When it gets to those last few days of pregnancy, expectant moms may feel a real sense of urgency that they just want to bring on the baby. The induction of labour may seem like a good idea, but is it as easy as drinking some castor oil, and is that even proven to work?

The usual dose of castor oil for this purpose, according to BabyCentre, is 114ml and this is often mixed with orange juice and half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to kill the horrible taste and give it a bit of fizz.

Although it is said to have been used by ancient Egyptians to induce labour, it has no proven efficacy in this, although there have been few studies into the connection. One example of a study conducted by NCBI stated that out of  612 women with a gestation of more than 40 weeks, 205 received castor oil for induction and 407 did not. The time to birth was not significantly different between the two groups and that castor oil use was not associated with any harmful effects on the mother or foetus.

Tummy trouble

Another comment on drinking castor oil is that all the women who drank it felt nauseous- it may induce vomiting and/or diarrhoea.  BellyBelly reports that the associated stomach cramps, especially if combined with labour cramps, can make the birth process extremely unpleasant. It may even prompt a hospital visit should you become dehydrated as a result of vomiting and diarrhoea.

The consensus from professionals is that castor oil is not medically effective in inducing labour and it may cause nausea and other complications. WebMD suggests that it, among other methods, should not be recommended by doctors or midwives.

N.B: It is recommended that you consult with a medical professional before attempting to induce labour, even by natural methods.

Despite the lack of evidence that it is effective, many expectant moms still get advised by other moms to try it out.

Here’s what some of Parent24’s moms experienced when trying to induce labour by drinking castor oil:

•    Jo: Old wive’s tale... Poor baby.
•    Nomahlubi: I used it in 2002 had false labour pains but after 2 days I gave birth to a 3,8kg baby girl.
•    Nolo: Also tried it and it didn't work. Made me nauseous.
•    Michelle: Only false labour pains and still no baby. It doesn't work. Had to get c section in the end.
•    Leilani: Exactly the same experience as Michelle Kruger describes above. Hoax!
•    Ambesiwe: I used it for both my kids it helped me so much.
•    Wendy: I took some and when I realised that the cramps I was getting had nothing to do with my tummy but were labour pains my daughter was born 5 minutes later.
•    Nita: I tried it. And nothing happened

The only proven method for inducing labour is medical intervention, although many natural methods are recommended by moms. From pineapple juice to eating hot curry, these are some fun things to try. Especially the sex one, only don't do what this couple did: Maternity ward sex scandal

Do you check advice people give you to see if there’s any truth to it?

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