What are some of the benefits to using castor oil to induce labor?
It can cause stomach irritation that can stimulate contractions. It is a natural product and not a drug. Some providers will recommend this as a way to induce labor. One theory of how castor oil works, is that it stimulates smooth tissue, such as the uterus.
What are some of the risks to using castor oil to induce labor?
It might make a baby have his or her first bowel movement in utero, which can be very dangerous for baby. It is not studied extensively for the use of induction, so we don't konw if it causes the movement or if it is a coincidence since many women who use it to induce are past 40 weeks (which increases this risk by iteself).
One of theory of how castor oil works, is making mom dehydraated for diarrhea, which signals the body to start labor, because it tells mom's body it is an unsafe for the continuing to carry baby. Laboring while dehydrated is a huge contributor to the diagnosis of "failure to progress" and poses a host of dangers to mom and baby.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19780733 (Study on people)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11717994?dopt=Abstract (Study on rats)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10631825?dopt=Abstract (Study on people)
What are ways of mitigating my risks?
Make sure you drink a ton of water BEFORE and AFTER you take castor oil. Make sure, to not follow no food/no liquids by mouth orders once you arrive at the hospital, especially if you did develop diarrhea.
Perhaps, take a smaller dosage. This is one that I have heard. It is genter than most methods: 1 teaspoon for the first dose in orange juice. One teaspoon four hours later, in orange juice. And six hours later, another teaspoon in orange juice.
DISCLAIMER: Please, bear in mind this or any other advice or information posted in this group does not replace the need to have these conversations with your provider on the risks and benefits.