IS IT SAFE TO USE CASTOR OIL AT 37 WEEKS TO INDUCE LABOR?

What is labor induction?

Inducing labor, or labor induction is a procedure in which the doctor or midwife uses a different methodology to help pregnant women go into labor. It’s always best to let labor happen on its own, but there are some exceptions. Due to some medical reasons, the doctor may decide to induce the woman. The doctor may induce if the woman is two weeks or more past the due date.

About 37 weeks pregnancy

By 37 weeks, the baby is around 19 inches long and over 6 pounds. The major organs of the baby are ready to work in the real world. The brain and lungs still need more time to mature fully. Human pregnancy lasts approximately 40 weeks. When the amount of time or term of pregnancy is complete, a baby is considered ready for birth.

Earlier, the pregnancy term was supposed to be 37 to 42 weeks. Now, deliveries at 37 weeks are regarded as “early term” because a baby’s brain, lungs, and liver continue to develop during this time.

Can castor oil induce labor? A sneak peek into different researches

  • Castor oil may likely cause uterine contractions and irritation. However these may appear to be labor contractions, they are more likely the result of digestive distress than actual labor.
  • It is also found that women who take oral castor oil do not go labor any sooner compared to women who do not take castor oil orally
  • From a recent study, it is found that there is a connection between taking castor oil and inducing labor. The study concluded that castor oil might induce labor within 24 hours if a woman is 40 weeks pregnant.
  • A smaller study from 2000 shows that 57.7% of the women who took castor oil went into labor within 24 hours. Another 4.2%of the women who did not use castor oil went into labor within the next 24 hours. therefore evidence from this study suggests that castor oil may help induce labor.
  • Another study conducted in 2009 found no connection between taking castor oil and inducing labor. This study took into account over 600 participants in week 40 or above of their pregnancy. The study determined that castor oil did not affect the time of birth. It also concluded that it does not seem to have any harmful impact.
  • A study conducted in 2018 found that castor oil induction is more beneficial in women who have had babies previously.

Should you induce labor?

The body will induce labor if it is ready to give birth in most cases. Some may face preterm labor, while other women may face labor later than their expected due date.

It is important to note that, who earlier had a cesarean delivery should never attempt to induce labor. The reason behind this is that it can cause uterine rupture.

Should castor oil be used to induce labor?

It is not scientifically proven that castor oil effectively induces labor, so it is better to avoid using castor oil. Inducing labor before 40 weeks is risky to the fetus. It is not at all safe to induce labor during the 37 weeks. No studies have found any direct risk or trouble for the fetus is using castor oil. Still, it can lead to dehydration, false contractions, diarrhoea, and other stomach-related side effects in the mother.

Castor oil does not start labor. It causes feels of cramping in the digestive system, not the uterus. Ingesting small amounts of castor oil may cause spasms in the intestine, stimulating the bowels and vagal nerve.

Risks associated with inducing labor

Some risks are associated with inducing labor which is as follows:
· It does not work- in about 25 percent of cases, women proceed to have a cesarean.
· The baby won’t get enough oxygen, and their heart rate is affected.
· Mother or her baby get an infection
· The uterus tears.
· Mother bleeds a lot after the birth of her baby.

When is induced labor recommended?

Induced labor is recommended only if there is a risk associated with the mother or her baby’s health. The doctor may recommend induced labor in the following conditions:
· If there is a situation of overdue (more than 41 weeks pregnant).
· If there is a concern that the placenta is not working as it should work.
· If the mother suffers from any health issues such as diabetes, kidney problems, or high blood pressure.
· If the baby is making fewer movements, showing changes in its heart rate, or not growing well.
· If the mother’s waters have broken, but the contractions haven’t started naturally.
· If the mother is giving birth to more than one baby.

What is the risk of taking castor oil to induce labor?

Using castor oil may increase the chance of meconium- the baby’s first stool- being passed during labor. This can potentially harm the baby if it is aspirated or inhaled into the lungs, possibly causing pneumonia or developmental delays.

Babies born postdate i.e, 40 weeks and over, have increased chances of passing meconium in the womb because their bowels are more mature.

It is not proven that babies born with castor oil induction will pass meconium in the womb; there may be a chance that it can happen.

Possible side-effects of using castor oil to begin contractions

Along with the probable risk of meconium, other risks are also determined:
§ Nausea: There is a possibility to feel nauseous. Some women also vomit due to the strong smell of the oil.
§ Intestinal discomfort: intestinal cramping and gas are the most usual side effects.
§ Diarrhea: Since it is a laxative, diarrhea is a very common side effect.
§ Dehydration: Diarrhea generally causes dehydration, so there is a need to drink plenty of water.
§ Nothing: Some women may not experience any effects or side effects at all.

How does castor oil help start contractions?

Mainly there are three ways where castor oil works to induce labor:
1. It induces contraction in the bowels, which in turn may cause them to start contracting as well.
2. It dehydrates the body, which can also cause contractions.
3. Scientists have determined that ricinoleic acid, which is a primary component of castor oil, targets prostaglandin receptors on smooth muscle cells in the intestines and uterus in order to stimulate contractions.

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