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Side Effects & Benefits Of Castor Oil During Pregnancy & How It Induces Labour?

Castor Oil in pregnancy

Castor oil has been used in Indian household since ages now.  Castor oil is a stimulant laxative, it promotes bowel movement and it is used as a home remedy for constipation. Just one teaspoon of castor oil can release all the trapped gases and give your intestines a reboot. Not only that it has properties to improve hair growth, make the hair strand stronger, also it’s essential fatty acids helps to moisturise the skin and improve its texture. Along with these benefits castor oil is also used during pregnancy, let’s see what exactly is the role played by it !

How exactly does castor oil work when consumed?

 Castor oil has a spasmodic effect on the intestine,  which stimulates the bowel and the vagal nerve. This reactions in turn causes irritation to the uterus and can lead to uterine contractions.  Some researches also suggest that castor oil promotes the release of prostaglandins which helps in the dilation of the cervix. The castor oil reduces fluid absorption in the small intestine which causes dehydration and irritation causing contractions of the uterine wall. While these effects of might seem to be very minimal and not very dangerous but being in a pregnant lady’s shoes they might be a bit too much.

When should castor oil be consumed to induce labour?

The human pregnancy lasts for 40 weeks, once it crosses this period and it enters the 41 st week and 6 days is called late term and the 42nd week is called post term. Some woman who have entered this late term get anxious and want to with their little one sooner, so there are many natural methods which haven’t been proved but are traditionally followed as methods to induce labour one of which is castor oil, others include – having spicy food, going on walks, having sex etc.  It’s recommended to wait for the normal induction of labour but under some circumstances it becomes difficult. If the amniotic fluid levels start calling, cord gets compressed or the blood pressure of the mother is fluctuating etc under such circumstances the labour is induced or under severe scenario the woman is posted for surgery. But if the doctor is ready to wait for the natural way of delivery, castor oil can be considered as one of the method to induce contraction.

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Side effects of consuming castor oil

  • As castor oil is a well-known laxative it has a very fast effect on the bowel. After consumption of even a teaspoon of castor oil will have an effect on the bowel within six to seven hours. So if it is consumed at the time exactly at the end of the term it would result in extreme bowel moment and the woman wouldn’t be able to focus on the contraction but would be travelling to and fro to the toilet.
  • While this doesn’t happen with all women as every one has a different body built, but during pregnancy every woman faces bowel discomfort at one trimester or the other. So in such circumstances castor oil consumption would lead to further weakening of the bowel.
  • Also, the contraction may or may not be induced while it would lead to nausea, diarrhoea, extreme discomfort of bladder and bowel for sure

What might go wrong while consumption of castor oil?

  • As castor oil now days is a very talked about method to induce labour many women might opt for it without recommendation by their health care provider. There may be several reasons for your entry into late term or post term which would diagnosed by your doctor than yourself. So never self judge your condition.
  • You might consume the castor oil way to early 36-38 weeks is a early phase, consumption of castor oil in this period will lead to pre term labour and thus giving birth to pre term baby. It might cause various respiratory problems, brain injury, less birth weight in your baby.
  • You might feel the need to consume more if little amount isn’t working right, this might lead to severe complication. As castor oil doesn’t work as soon as consumed women waiting for labour might not be in the right mind set to wait for the effects of it to set in leading to excessive consumption of castor oil.

 What should be kept in mind?

  • Your doctor himself will prescribe you with natural ways to induce labour if he thinks you are far into the pregnancy. So wait for it.
  • If you feel you want to opt for this method ask your health care provider regarding your condition, amount and time to be comsumed.
  • Always try to consume castor oil in the morning so that the doctor can monitor or you yourself can monitor the changes occurring in your body.

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Hope this information helps you with your decision and makes your labour a bit easier.

Happy parenting !!!!

Dr. Krutika Kumaresan
Dr. Krutika Kumaresan MPT is an Adult and Paediatric Neuro therapist.I am a mother of a beautiful baby girl. She is the most precious thing to have happened to me. Motherhood in the eyes of a medical professional is completely different. Very often I find myself in a dilemma when she is sick I become frozen and panicked. As a first time mother it is sometimes overwhelming and full of surprises. Yes being in medical professional helps me tackle a few things here and there but what I have learnt through the journey so far is it’s okay to not know or being not able to decide for yourself. It’s okay if you seek somebody’s help. It doesn’t mean that you are weak or don’t have enough knowledge it just means you are new at this and trying to do your best. It takes great courage to accept your short comings and learn about it in the process. As a mother and as a medical professional I have just one advice and tip to all the parents out there do not ever try and compare your little one to other children. Every child is unique and is a blessing enjoy their childhood and let them be.                                                                                                                

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