September 10, 2003

Castor Oil, Prodromal labor and induction

I was very surprised to see how high I was listed on some google searches for pregnancy and castor oil as well as for prodromal labor. If anyone is visiting for these subjects please read about my birth experience. I will say this, in my opinion the castor oil was wonderful! Of course after three weeks of prodromal labor (early or prelabor contractions consistently for hours at a time every day - unsure if this time was "really" going to be it or not) I just wanted her out and was willing to try any non-medical form of induction that was safe and rumored to be true. We did, i drank more raspberry leaf tea than anyone should in a lifetime, took my daily evening primose oil, and walked until the neighbors thought I would deliver her on the street. We tried several other methods as well - but I do believe it was the castor oil that finally pushed us over.

I never really tasted it so I can't complain. I treated it like a bad shot of liquor and a chaser I have had in college. For those who are blessed to not have those memories or experiences, just try to take the whole shot down and some of the orange juice before you swallow so all you will taste is the orange juice. Of course this time it was castor oil and orange juice, but the approach was the same. As for the cramps I had a few but they really were nothing compared to the contractions that were to come. As for the diarreha well it was there and it was a bit uncomfortable but I only had a few bouts of it and then I was in labor and labor was very quick. Just three hours from the first contraction until she was delivered and in my arms.

So if you have the blessing of your medical professional I say go ahead and try it. Of course NOTE: I am NOT a medical professional at all and this is just my opinion and personal experience. Also my midwife did warn me that if the baby was not ready to come she would not and I would just have some cramps and diarreha, I have a friend this happened to, so it is always a risk I suppose.

But if you are a fellow sufferer of prodromal labor know you have my sympathies and I have been there for three REALLY long weeks. And nobody really understands what it is like if they have not experienced it. YES you are in "labor" for three weeks or however long you have been dealing with it and no they are not just "braxton hicks" and yes they hurt more than those do, it is just like early labor contractions. For those of you curious the first hour of my "labor" was the same as all those weeks of contractions I had, I then moved pretty quickly into transition and knew I needed to go to the hospital.

I can only hope that your labor progresses quickly and that you will soon find relief. I can share a few things that helped me, I found the research and help on this subject pretty weak actually. But I found out that prodromal labor can often be caused by a posterior baby, a sunny side up baby that needs to turn. So we spent a week on the birth ball and hands and knees and just changed my thoughts about how to sit, relax and sleep. She did turn by the way!

The two other things that helped me the most were distraction - doing things that I really enjoyed or that could keep my mind off the contractions. This was hard to do at first but became neccessary for survival. The other thing was getting help. I had two little ones at home and truly needed someone to care for them as I was often completely dysfunctional and unable to cope. I enlisted many friends to watch the kids, bring meals just relieve me for a short time and I never turned down offers of help. I opened up to my friends about how miserable and desperate I was and was amazed at the outpour of support I received from many. There were a few who I don't think understood or believed me or may have thought I was exagerrating it for attention or for pity. I wasn't! But thanks to all those who helped me and please get help yourself.

My midwife also prescribed Ambien and Vistaral to help me sleep through the contractions. This was absolutely neccessary. I am a person who avoids medicine in general and almost absolutely while pregnant and nursing but I did not have a choice here. This was the only way I could possibly sleep and it did help me get a few hours (about 4 a night) where I was getting none before.

Finally - go easy on yourself and talk about it - with your partner - with your doctor or midwife - with friends and family. Understand this is a time that will pass and be easy on yourself. I was not easy on myself and it made it far worse - the last week I finally gave in (or gave up) and was more accepting of it all and that was a far better week.

Prodromal labor made me a basketcase in many ways. I often did not recognize or like myself. I kept saying I was a different person and one I did not like. I felt like a terrible mother, a failure at home, a bad friend and just a selfish not so nice person all around. And I may have been all those things for a brief time when the hormones took over and kept putting all of me into "labor".

I read that one midwife treats her patients based on how long the fangs of herself and her family have grown. Well our whole family had fangs and mine were the worst of all. If you know our family this might surprise you as we are pretty even-keeled and patient (albeit loud) and of good temperaments. But it was short and my family survived and though I did not believe it possible I am back to myself and I've lost the prodromal labor fangs!

So hang in there, know you are not alone, you are not going crazy and you can and will survive! Drink castor oil to induce labor if your medical professional reccomends and know you will soon hold a beautiful child in your arms like the one who nurses as I type - who was causing me the same just a few weeks ago.



  1. I just wanted to thank you for this post! I've been having prodomal labor for 10 days now, and I'm going crazy, but you give me hope. I can't find a link on your site to your birth story--I'm interested in reading the whole story.

  2. Hang in there, it will get better and really be gentle on yourself and enlist help! You are not crazy and it will end. Here is my birth story