I think most of us have some pre-concieved ideas about using castor oil to induce labor. I know I sure did. However, I did a good bit of research on it this time and talked to a friend who had real-life, recent experience using it-who is also a nurse-and I decided to try it. My experience was so incredible and wonderful that I have to share it on here.
Ok, so I used to think that castor oil was some sort of dark, motor oil type substance, I thought you had to drink a ton of it, and I knew it could dehydrate you. Yuck, yuck, yuck. I was pretty against ever even looking into it, let alone trying it.
However, with both of my first two pregnancies they had to use pitocin in order for my labor to progress, even when my water had broken at home and labor had begun on its own. Maybe not a big deal if you get an epidural and don't feel anything, but with my second pregnancy I did not get an epidural, and the last 4 hours of my labor on pitocin were horrible. No breaks between contractions, no time to get back in control of my pain or breathe, just screaming and crying and trying to pray my way through for hours. I knew I didn't want an epidural again this time, but I did NOT want to be on pitocin for any reason. So when my doctors were recommending that I be induced on October 21st (one week before my due date) because of my history of having large babies, and I realized that my choices were to either most likely be induced and on pitocin again, or to try a natural, labor inducing method (castor oil) I opted for the latter. (Please know, there are other natural ways of trying to induce labor... and we had tried those, and they didn't seem to be doing the trick.... I'll leave it at that ;) )
Here's what I learned in my research: castor oil is made from the seed of the castor plant (basically a type of vegetable oil) it's clear, doesn't have much taste, is sold over the counter at most pharmacies, and you only have to take 2 tablespoons. Very different than I thought at first. It causes diarrhea for most people, which is why it can dehydrate you, so over the course of the morning I drank a 1/2 gallon of water prior to taking any, and then was working on finishing another 1/2 gallon before I went to the hospital.
IMPORTANT:*If your body is not showing any signs of going into labor soon on its own, castor oil probably won't work for you and shouldn't be tried. I knew that I was already dilated to 4 cm four days prior to taking it and had been having contractions for days and days that were fairly regular. I also knew that my doctors felt it was safe for me to have my baby on the 21st as I would be 39 weeks and they had recommended I be induced on that day anyway. It's very important not to try to force baby out by using castor oil if you are not close to or past your due date or if your body is not showing any signs that it is ready for labor. ALSO, if you use it make sure you are super hydrated first.*
So here's my story:
Shaun was working on Monday the 21st and wouldn't be home until 3:30. I decided to wait until the afternoon to take it so that I could be sure he would be home in case it did put me into labor. I got up around 8:00 a.m. and filled up a half gallon jar with water. Throughout the morning I steadily kept drinking with my goal being to have finished a 1/2 gallon before taking the castor oil at 1:30. I did little things around the house, played outside with the boys, and just tried to have a normal day. At 1:00 p.m. I called Shaun and made sure he was absolutely sure I should take it, he said to go for it, so I mixed two tablespoons of the oil with a glass of juice and got it down by 1:30. (Not a fun consistency to drink, I'll tell you that) I knew that for most people it will cause something to happen within two hours, usually diarrhea. By 3:30 nothing had happened for me and I was trying to resign myself that it might not work. (I never did have the stomach cramps or diarrhea that often are side effects of using castor oil to induce labor- woo hoo!) I was still drinking water just in case, and by 4:00 I started to notice that my contractions were seeming to be a little bit more frequent than before. I told Shaun I was going to lay down on the sofa to rest, and Drew and Isaiah would randomly come snuggle with me for a little bit. Every so often I'd ask Shaun what time it was. Although my contractions were not painful and no more intense than before, they were consistently about every 8 minutes. I still wasn't getting my hopes up. By 5:00 Shaun told me that he was going to make eggs for dinner. I told him thank you because I just didn't feel like cooking at the moment. I sat up on the sofa and started noticing that my contractions seemed to be closer than 8 minutes apart. I started watching the clock and writing down times myself. After having about 5 or 6 contractions that were consistently 3-5 minutes apart I told Shaun I was going to go finish packing. About halfway upstairs I had a contraction that I could hardly keep walking through. That was a bit different. As I finished packing upstairs I had a few more that stopped me in the middle of what I was doing. I yelled down the stairs that I was going to call the dr. and my mom. Shaun was like "are you serious??!" So I called and my dr. told me to come in and my mom said she'd be over. I went back downstairs and tried to eat a few bites of dinner between contractions and couldn't really. All the while my contractions were getting stronger, but not really hurting. By 6:00 I remember I was at the front door, trying to get my uggs on, having a contraction at the same time and Shaun had to put my boots on for me. By a few minutes after 6:00 Shaun was in the kitchen giving my mom last minute instructions and I was standing on the front porch telling him we had. to. go. NOW.
6:07 we were pulling out of the driveway and I was having a stronger contraction. I was trying to text some of our friends to tell them I was going in and ask them to pray. Ten minutes down the road my sister was calling and I remember telling her I could talk til I had a contraction, then telling her one was starting and I had to go and hanging up. That contraction was really strong and my water broke in the front seat of the truck (thankfully we had put a towel down on the seat) That was about 6:15ish. From that point on Shaun was driving with his four ways on and passing people in turning lanes and rolling down the window at red lights to ask if he could go in front of people.... and I was trying to call my dr to tell them I felt like I was going to have to push soon and I wouldn't be able to walk into the hospital... It was a pretty intense drive!
6:40 we were pulling into women and babies and I was getting out of the car into a wheel chair and being pushed straight to labor and delivery. Once I got into the hospital bed the adenaline rush settled and I started shaking all over, so relieved we had made it to the hospital. When they checked me they said I was 7 cm and baby boy was really low. (No kidding!)
From that point on I had about 2 hours were my contractions spaced out a little and I had these wonderful breaks that I could talk and laugh through. I stayed at 7 cm for those two hours and was actually starting to worry a bit when they started saying they could give me pitocin to jump start my labor again. NO. WAY. So I got out of bed and tried walking the hallways, then came back to my room and sat on the birthing ball next to my bed. I started praying intensely that my body would do what it was made to and that baby would come soon. The whole time Shaun was rubbing my back and I was breathing through contractions and I was listening to the worship play list I had made. My nurse came in and asked if I'd like to try the jacuzzi tub. I said sure. I probably got in the tub a little before 9. I remember saying to Shaun that between contractions I felt great and completely relaxed in the water. (Then during a contraction I wanted to be anywhere but in that hard tub...) My contractions were definitely seeming to be more intense and harder to breathe through. I had three really hard ones in a row, then a little break, then I started having one that sent me to crazy land pain wise, and I tried to jump out of the tub but could hardly stand. Shaun was holding me up under my arms, and my nurse came running in to help, and I was starting to scream, and barely made it back to the bed... It took a few minutes for the doctor to get there during which time they were telling me not to push and I was feeling like that was absolutely impossible and Shaun was cradling my head in his arms and pushing my hair back and telling me it was going to be ok and all the while I was screaming. The doctor finally came in and was awesome giving me super specific instructions what to do and how to push. Jaden was born one minute of pushing later. (It felt like a lot longer than that!!) Looking back on it I couldn't have asked for things to go any better than they did.
It was definitely extremely painful at the very end, but it was such a natural progression, and it was my body in control of it the whole time doing just what it needed to, not something they were pumping into me to force my body to contract harder and more often than necessary.
What finally clicked with me this time around was that everyone's labor is going to be different, and not to be afraid if mine is different than "normal". Going to birthing classes and what you see on tv/movies makes you think everyone has contractions that get closer and closer together and are extremely consistent and timeable. and that "transition" happens at 7 cm and that there should be come kind of longer period of time where you feel like you have to push... My labor went fast but was irregular in that my contractions would be close together and hard and then space back out and then get closer and harder again, that I stayed at 7 cm for 2 hrs, and I didn't go into transition until 10 cm when I was ready to push. I am just so thankful I finally got to have this experience of a natural labor start to finish.
I love hearing other people's birth stories, and I thought it would be cool to include another one using castor oil on here in case you're interested in hearing more. So my friend Kendra (the nurse that gave me lots of first hand advice) wrote out her experience and birth story with her daughter Eden, and I'll be posting that tomorrow. :)