Castor Oil Induction

By Anu Morgan and Danelle Day © 2018

Those last few weeks of pregnancy can be tough at times, especially with round ligament pain, difficulty breathing, pressure from family, friends and pushy practitioners, and so much more. At this time many women are tempted to get labor started on their own, as fast as we can, and look to any method that may allow us to meet our little ones sooner. Looking into 'natural induction methods,' castor oil is among one of the most commonly mentioned. However, this does not mean that it is safe, or without risk for both mom and baby.

Castor oil is a vegetable oil that comes from the castor plant and is best known as a laxative. As it enters the body, castor oil increases small intestinal secretions that stimulate the bowels, often causing intense diarrhea. Diarrhea results from the increase in prostaglandins from castor oil intake, that forces the small intestines to contract unnaturally. Extreme diarrhea is notorious for leading to dehydration, and in the case of a pregnant mother, dehydration can cause labor to occur when baby is not yet ready for the outside world -- leading to a host of other complications with baby's lungs, immune system, and increasing NICU stay needs.

Not only does excess diarrhea and intestinal contractions lead to dehydration for expecting mothers, but castor oil itself also decreases the body’s glucose absorption. This means that when a pregnant mother needs nourishment more than ever, her body is not able to absorb all the nutrients that she takes in, further complicating dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

The second side effect of castor oil that many are not informed of is that just as it causes contractions of the small intestines to be irregular and unnatural, castor oil similarly impacts the uterus -- causing contractions of the uterus to be more intense, irregular, and unnatural for both mom and her baby. Coupled with dehydration, this leaves a birthing mother drained of energy when she needs it most - to birth her baby, and does not give her a normally functioning uterus in top capacity spurred only by natural birth hormones.

A third risk factor of castor oil is that just as it causes intestinal contractions for mom, so it can with baby. This means that there is a much greater chance baby will pass meconium while inside the uterus, which can lead to fetal distress, or even death. A study published in the Journal of Biology, Agriculture and Healthcare in 2014 stated that 18% of the women who took castor oil had meconium stained waters, verses only 6% of women who did not ingest castor oil. APGAR scores of all newborn babies induced through castor oil were also impacted negatively and significantly.

While it can be hard to wait for our little one to get here, take heart in knowing that baby has a lot to gain from growing inside those last few weeks and days. Normal human gestation periods range from 38 to 43 weeks, with 42 being the most common for first time mothers, and some women birthing naturally into their 43rd and 44th weeks. At 40+ weeks a mother is not overdue. Lung development is critical during these final weeks. Just as we see in animal husbandry and veterinary science, each extra day that a mammal grows on the inside results in a stronger, smarter, more healthy baby, and so it is true for humans. In fact, research suggests that it is a lung protein that is released by baby that tells mom's body baby is ready for the outside world, and labor begins. In the absence of other health complications (including dehydration, malnourishment, drug use, extreme stress, abuse, etc.) mothers birth their babies when they are truly ready to arrive earthside, and this is a good thing!

Veteran midwife and contributing editor of Midwifery Today, Gloria LeMay, writes:
On the subject of all the women in a hurry to get their babies born: I was 3 weeks ‘overdue’ with my oldest daughter. What really helped me was when I had lunch with a friend at about 8 months pregnancy. Her son had been born 6 months before. When she saw me walk into the restaurant, all hugely pregnant, she said, "Oh, Gloria, when I see you I miss my pregnancy so much." I knew that one day I’d be saying that too, so I made up my mind to enjoy it as long as possible, and I’m so glad I did! Six months from now you’ll be wondering what the rush was.

One final note begs attention here and that is the myth of the "aging placenta." This misconception is pushed upon mothers who reach 41+ weeks gestation, and it is completely bogus: your placenta will not all of a sudden stop working.  This myth is not based in science, and is used to coerce and push artificial labor induction and c-sections upon women in a broken birth world that does not trust birth, or the woman and baby whose bodies know just what to do when left alone. In a fantastic review of research on the "Aging of the Placenta" published in the British Medical Journal, authors conclude:
A review of the available evidence indicates that the placenta does not undergo a true aging change during pregnancy. There is, in fact, no logical reason for believing that the placenta, which is a fetal organ, should age while the other fetal organs do not: the situation in which an individual organ ages within an organism that is not aged is one which does not occur in any biological system. The persisting belief in placental aging has been based on a confusion between morphological maturation and differentiation and aging, a failure to appreciate the functional resources of the organ, and an uncritical acceptance of the overly facile concept of “placental insufficiency” as a cause of increased perinatal mortality.
Relish in your little one's movements on the inside. Savor these last weeks talking, singing, walking, dancing with your baby snuggled safe within. Take photos. Take videos. Take long, soothing baths. And know that your baby will be born in his or her own perfect time. ♥

Related Reading

Fetal Lungs Protein Release Triggers Labor to Begin:

Castor Oil Safety and Effectiveness on Labor Induction and Neonatal Outcome:

Castor Oil Inductions - Gloria LeMay:

The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth:

Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First (Dr. Marsden Wagner):

Birth Reborn: What Childbirth Should Be (Dr. Michel Odent):

Birth and Breastfeeding: Rediscovering the Needs of Women During Pregnancy and Childbirth (Dr. Michel Odent):

Length of human pregnancy and contributors to its natural variation:

Length of human pregnancies can vary naturally by as much as five weeks:

Pregnant Pause: My Baby's Not 'Overdue':

Fox H Aging of the placenta Archives of Disease in Childhood - Fetal and Neonatal Edition 1997;77:F171-F175.

Why Pregnancy Due Dates are Inaccurate:

The Lie of the Estimated Due Date (EDD):

No Induction is 'Normal':

Trusting Birth: 43 Weeks of Faith:

Pregnant Moms Due [this year] Group: (more mainstream)

Birthing Group: (more holistic)

Love Matters!

By Danelle Day © 2018

It is difficult to have an unbroken civilization when we begin breaking children at birth... when we lack compassion, empathy, and *involvement* in loving babies and children (responding readily to their cues and needs), supporting mothering (or gentle/conscious parenting in general). When we raise detached, isolated, anxious, lonely babies/children into detached, isolated, anxious, lonely adults, what do we expect to happen along the way?

Peacefully parenting all little ones (no matter their sex) from the very beginning can powerfully and positively break this destructive cycle that has become ubiquitous in the United States and is overflowing now with its disarray.

A gently parented child who has been loved intensely, and responded to without fail, who has been tuned-into, heard, and shown compassion, by a well-supported parent, from birth onward does not grow to kill.


Pick up your baby. Respond to their cues. Hold them. Wear them. Rock them. Keep them intact. Keep them close. Snuggle down at night safely beside them. Show them that they can trust you, and trust this world around them. Show them what love feels like, so they won’t need to doubt that it exists. This time is short and fleeting, but impacts a *lifetime* to come.

If there are just two books that would do the world good for everyone to read, and put into practice, it would be these:

[and the many reasons that genital cutting at birth, neglect, leaving a baby to cry alone, not responding to cues, and general lack of affection forever hurts a baby, child, and adult]

[how gentle, conscious parenting of babies and children can break cycles of destruction and lead to healthy, happy adults of tomorrow]

Related Reading: 

Where are all the happy babies?

Dr. David Chamberlain on Smiling Babies and Civilization

Babies Know More Than You Think:

Peaceful Parenting: Giving Babies the Best Start in Life

Cosleeping and Biological Imperatives: Why Human Babies Do Not and Should Not Sleep Alone

Primal Love and Mothering

Loveness in the Brokenness

Windows to the Womb: Revealing the Conscious Baby from Conception to Birth

Primal Health: Understanding the Critical Period Between Conception and the First Birthday

The Scientification of Love

Peaceful Parenting Group

Gentle Parenting Discussion Groups by Topic

Dr. David Chamberlain on Smiling Babies

Brick Dust - Urine Crystals in Baby's Diaper

By Danelle Day © 2008
Updated 2016

While they can appear alarming to first time parents, urine crystals - sometimes called 'brick dust' 'brick powder' or 'pink diaper syndrome' - are normal and common among newborn babies. These crystals typically appear as a reddish powder in the diapers, and often are mistaken for blood in the urine.

Brick dust can also appear to be orange, pink, brown, yellow, or any variation of these shades, and are especially common among breastfeeding babies receiving the immuno-packed power of colostrum in the early days.

Because newborn babies are only able to digest a very small amount at a time (due to the size of the newborn stomach), urine crystals are thought to form easily during this time from the concentrated colostrum consumed (with little other liquid in the mix until mom's milk comes in). This is normal and healthy for baby, but the low volume of colostrum will not typically produce otherwise common fluid, clear urine.

Once mom's milk has come in, urine should begin to appear clear, and without crystals. They will go away at this time - almost always by the second week of life. If brick dust still appears after your baby is 1 week old, or re-appears later in babyhood, it may mean your little one is dehydrated. To remedy this, increase nursing (if breastfeeding), or increase your baby's formula intake. Do not "water down" formula or add it to pumped milk. This is very dangerous as it throws off the electrolyte balance of baby's blood stream, and young babies have died from this form of "water poisoning." Increase nursing or formula (mixed per the instructions).

By the time your baby is 1 week old, s/he should urinate at least 6 times per day. Knowing how many times your little one pees may be difficult to identify with today's disposable diapers, but in general, you should need to change wet diapers around the clock.

If baby continues to have brick dust even after a baby's intake has increased, it may mean that there is a latch/suck issue. For breastfeeding babies, meeting with a skilled IBCLC who can weigh baby before and after nursing will tell a mother how much her baby is consuming, and whether s/he is getting all that is needed. Formula feeding parents should re-check the instructions to ensure they are feeding accordingly, and on cue around the clock, while contacting their pediatrician.

Two items that may appear as brick dust but are not include a small amount of vaginal bleeding among baby girls. This can occur because of hormone shifts between mother and baby around the time of birth, and is normal. A second thing that is sometimes mistaken for brick dust are small amounts of blood among boys who were cut (circumcised) at birth. The latter occurrence is not normal, and because a newborn baby only needs to lose 1 ounce to hemorrhage, and 2.3 ounces to die as a result of blood loss, if your son is not intact, it is important to pay close attention to his diapers following circumcision surgery.

Newborn Stomach Size
This chart highlights the reasons that babies need to eat so frequently in the first months of life, and also why a very small amount of colostrum is the perfect quantity for a baby in his/her first days of life. Brick dust is a normal occurrence as a result of this frequent consumption of very small amounts in the first 3-5 days of life. 


Konar H. DC Dutta's Textbook of Obstetrics. JP Medical Ltd; 2014 Apr 30.

Lauwers, J. and Swisher, A. Counseling the Nursing Mother: A Lactation Consultant’s Guide, Sixth Edition. 2016.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, and Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding: A Guide For The Medical Profession Eighth Edition. Elsevier Health Sciences. 2015.

Nommsen-Rivers LA, Heinig MJ, Cohen RJ, and Dewey KG. Newborn wet and soiled diaper counts and timing of onset of lactation as indicators of breastfeeding inadequacy. Journal of Human Lactation. 2008 Feb;24(1):27-33.

Riordan, J. and Wambach, K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning. 2014.

What is colostrum? How does it benefit my baby? La Leche League International:

Related Reading

Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers

Intact Care Resources

Your Baby's Signs of Hunger (or thirst)!

Seven Breastfeeding Facts You Should Know

Cloth Diapering After Circumcision

If you nurse your baby...

Breastfeeding Myths

Should I circumcise? The pros and cons

Intact: Healthy, Happy, Whole Group

Saving Our Sons Group

Breastfeeding Group

Peaceful Parenting Group

Newborn babies should be nursed whenever they show first signs of hunger (or thirst), such as increased alertness or activity, mouthing, fist sucking, or rooting. Crying is a late indicator of extreme hunger. Babies should be nursed on cue, or approximately 8 to 12 times every 24 hours until full. This same feeding-on-cue guideline applies to formula fed babies. 

The best teachers...

The best teachers have teeth marks on their tongues.
-Alfie Kohn

Don't sweat the small stuff. Alfie Kohn is the author of these helpful books, among others:

Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason: 

Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community: 

Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes: 

The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Coddled Kids, Helicopter Parents, and Other Phony Crises: 

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing: 

BabySaving Moms!

Are you a BabySaving Mom? Have a special BabySaver in your life? We're honoring and celebrating all the BABYSAVING MOMS this week with a tip of the hat - we see you! We see the fruit of your work! We see the powerful, positive tidal wave of change that comes forth from the #i2 ripples you start. THANK YOU for being a part of Saving Our Sons ~ for speaking up with compassion, and saving babies

To be added, drop a photo to Saving Our Sons on Facebook, email or post/tag at SOS.

You are a HERO in this work! 

* Happy Mother's Day! * 

We will draw three moms via from among submissions to win a $10 gift card good toward any SOS educational and awareness raising materials at Etsy.

2018 BabySaving Moms

❤ Anu

❤ Elana

❤ Missy

❤ Michelle

❤ Brittany

❤ Amanda

❤ Brandi

❤ Kristi

❤ Danelle

❤ Rachael

New to this topic? Learn more about the functions of the foreskin (an organ all mammals on earth are born having), and the benefits of keeping all babies intact: Should I Circumcise? The Pros and Cons


MamAmor Birthing, Breastfeeding, Babywearing Dolls on Ellen!

The fantastic MamAmor birthing, breastfeeding, babywearing dolls will be on Ellen DeGeneres' show May 10, 2018, for a special Mother's Day episode! 💜 We're excited for this exposure for Adriana's beautiful creations, as they spark joy in every family's home who brings one in.

Ellen Show details:

Peaceful Parenting families shopping for a MamAmor doll of your own get an amazing discount (90CAD / 70USD off plus free shipping!) with code: PEACEFULPARENTING at check-out. You can personalize your own doll (choose her hair, eyes, skin, outfit, whether she is a breastfeeding, babywearing, birthing, VBAC mom, etc.). 😊 Details:

MamAmor Dolls have been normalizing birth and breastfeeding since 2007!

When you're touched out... choose love

You will never be this loved again.

So on those days when you are feeling stressed out, touched out, and depleted, just remember that you will never be this loved again.

One day you will long for their affection. So choose a soft voice, choose gentle hands, choose love.

-Ashley Kagan, Play at Home Mom

Peaceful Parenting Group 

The most censored breastfeeding photo on Facebook

One of the most censored photos on Facebook displays a woman nursing her young baby. Titled "Holy Virgin" this photograph was taken by renowned Czech photographer, Sara Saudková, in 2003. This photo, along with many others Saudková shot in more recent years as part of an artistic protest against Facebook's removal of breastfeeding mother's photos, are rarely available for more than a day.


Related Posts with Thumbnails