Castor Oil for Induction of Labor
Many overdue women turn to castor oil as a way to induce labor naturally, trying desperately to avoid a regular hospital induction. However, we tend to think that an induction is an induction, whether it's caused by castor oil or Pitocin® (which, incidentally, could be thought of as quite a bit more "natural" than castor oil, since it is the same hormone that starts labor naturally). No matter what the calendar says, pushing your body into labor before it's ready probably carries risks, regardless of what is used to cause the induction. If your body isn't ready, it simply isn't ready.
Now, there are some very good medical reasons for an induction (and no, being huge or miserable isn't among them). In these cases, a more reliable and controllable method of induction, in a monitored setting, is probably a better idea instead of castor oil.
In conclusion, studies are conflicting, but it is possible that castor oil might truly be an effective way to induce labor. It appears to be safe, but without large studies, the possibility of rare problems cannot be ruled out. We believe castor oil inductions should be done under the guidance of your healthcare provider.