Castor oil is known for its skin and haircare benefits, and if you're a new mom, you may have also heard that you can drink it while breastfeeding to promote the flow of milk. But how effective is this? And is it really safe to drink castor oil while breastfeeding?
The answer is: we don't know. There are no scientific reports so far on the effectiveness of drinking castor oil while breastfeeding, and there's no evidence to suggest that castor oil can promote the flow of breast milk.
What we do know, however, is that ricinoleic acid, castor oil's primary ingredient, may be absorbed into a pregnant woman's milk when the oil is consumed. This could potentially have laxative effects for your newborn - and it can be dangerous. Some studies have even linked castor oil to aspiration pneumonia in babies, so drinking the oil while breastfeeding just isn't worth the risk.
Is Castor Oil Safe During Pregnancy?
So, we know now that it's safer not to use castor oil while breastfeeding. But what about during pregnancy? Can it be used then?
Another potential use for castor oil, according to traditional methods, is to induce labor. However, research into the safety and effectiveness of castor oil for pregnant women is limited. Some studies do show that castor oil can be helpful in inducing labor, but others show that drinking castor oil can have side effects including vomiting, stress and nausea in the baby.
It's wise to consult your healthcare provider if you're considering using castor oil as a natural means of labor induction.
Castor oil can be used in the correct doses for both skin care and hair care purposes during pregnancy. In fact, castor oil can be a particularly beneficial hair care product for women experiencing shedding during pregnancy.
Can Castor Oil Hurt The Baby?
When used to induce labor, castor oil is unlikely to seriously hurt your baby. However, it has been known to cause painful, irregular contractions, which will stress both mom and baby and quickly lead to exhaustion.
Because of castor oil's laxative effects, if may also cause your baby to pass their first stool before they are born, which can lead to potentially problems during delivery.
In short, castor oil is unlikely to make your baby very ill, but there is a possibility that it could do. It's important to weigh up the pros and cons of using castor oil as a labor stimulant in advance of your due date.
How do I Take Castor Oil During Pregnancy?
As already mentioned earlier in this article, taking castor oil during pregnancy is risky, as there's a lot that we don't know about its effects on a newborn. However, if you do plan to take castor oil to induce labor, the general rule is to take about 4 tablespoons of oil once you're at 40 or 41 weeks of pregnancy. You shouldn't take more than this single dose.
You'll probably want to mix the oil with juice to disguise the bad taste. It's also recommended that you take the oil on an empty stomach.
Prepare yourself for the fact that castor oil may have some less desirable side effects, like diarrhea and nausea. It's wise not to take castor oil right before bed for this reason.
How Many Weeks Pregnant can you Take Castor Oil?
If you do plan to use castor oil to induce labor, make sure not to consume it before you reach 40 weeks, as you could provoke contractions and early labor. It's important not to use castor oil as a constipation remedy during this time, either.
There's no evidence to suggest that castor oil is safe to take orally during pregnancy or breastfeeding. There are many other natural methods of inducing labor and promoting the production of breast milk that are worth considering before castor oil.
If in doubt, speak to a medical professional. Your doctor or midwife can discuss your concerns as a new mom and discuss whether drinking castor oil is the safest and most effective means of solving the particular problem you're facing.
With that said, it's safe to apply castor oil topically during pregnancy and as a breastfeeding mom, and the oil can help treat a number of common pregnancy-related skin and hair conditions.