A Castor oil-assisted birth

Guest post by Tara

I finally gave birth to our baby girl on Thursday, July 1st 2010.

A day earlier, Mike and I had a 9:00am appointment at the birthing center. I was really anxious because I was not having any indications of contractions or oncoming labor. My body wasn’t doing anything and we were running out of time. I was so exhausted. Quinn was on day 11 of being over-due and I would have to be induced three days later if we weren’t able to stir up contractions. Jean, the owner of the birthing center met with Mike and I and did an internal exam. To our dismay, I was still only at about 1 1/2 cm’s and 40% effaced. To top it off, Quinn hadn’t even dropped yet. She was floating above my pelvic bone and not putting any pressure on the nerves that stimulate contractions. Not very good for being almost 42 weeks pregnant.

They had advised for me to drink castor oil at our previous appointment but I was hesitant and neglected to follow their instructions (stupid Tara!). Jean gave me a bit of a lecture (eeek!) telling me that at this point I would HAVE to try the castor oil since it was one of the only homeopathic natural remedies that could help push my body into labor if I were to remain a patient at the birthing center. It was more about getting Quinn out at this point, mostly because after 42 weeks the placenta starts to break down, the amniotic fluid starts to dry up and the baby continues to grow bigger and bigger. They were estimating she would be around nine or ten pounds at this point so the pressure was on!

I was nervous about taking the castor oil, only because the repercussions can be a bit intense (it’s a natural laxative soooo… I’ll let you use your imaginations) so I stopped by the grocery store and picked up the most fatty, chocolatey, rich Rocky Road ice cream that I could find and mixed it with the castor oil and some soy milk in the blender once I got home. I put that sucker in a giant beer glass and downed it as quickly as I could….BLECH! Nothing on the face of the earth can mask that taste of thick, goobery, cooking-oil-smelling lipgloss-consistency grossness, but I got it down and tried to fall asleep as quickly as possible before I could let my brain realize what I had just ingested.

I remembered the midwives telling me that I would know when to call them when I was having trouble talking through contractions…and that time had come!

About two hours later at 1:30, I woke up with some grumbles and about twenty minutes after that a few contractions started. By 3:00 or so, I started to feel consistent contractions happening every six minutes. I walked around the house for a bit and fell back asleep watching The Sand Lot on Netflix. About an hour later I awoke to much stronger contractions. I used my trusty iPhone app to time how closely together they were happening…two to three minutes apart! Holy! I was a bit in shock and really wondering if my body could possibly be going into labor so quickly.

I remembered the midwives telling me that I would know when to call them when I was having trouble talking through contractions…and that time had come! We were planning on having a nice dinner with our families that evening and I emerged from our room, having trouble talking, right as Mike’s parents had walked through the door. I walked over to his desk and asked if he could call the birthing center right as he was finishing his last email for work…perfect timing! A few minutes later, Jean was on the phone with me trying to confirm that I in fact was having contractions two minutes apart. She told us to come to the birthing center with our bags but to not be disappointed if we get sent home considering that I could be in false labor since I had absolutely no signs of labor earlier that morning. Mike calmly grabbed all of our things and we got into the car.

After getting stuck in some traffic and avoiding as many speed bumps/train tracks as possible, we arrived to the birthing center and made it inside by 5:00. Everyone was waiting for us and Jean excitedly brought me into the exam room. I was having trouble paying attention to everything they were talking about, only because my contractions were coming two at a time by that point. But…the great news was that I was at 3 1/2 cm, 100% effaced and Quinn had dropped to zero station! Jean was laughing and in complete shock. It was time to go to our birthing room!

As we made our way down the hallway, all of the midwives were excitedly talking and in disbelief at how quickly my labor had progressed. I felt really encouraged and excited too, but was actively concentrating on staying as relaxed as possible. When we made it into our room, Mike busted out his iPod and put on some relaxing music as Jean helped me into the hot shower to try to soothe the pain I was in. That wound up being my favorite place to be! I must have sat in there for hours….the hot water on my back while I sat on the birthing ball was incredibly soothing. It helped me relax my muscles through each contraction.

By 7:00pm, I was at 5cm dilated and by 10:00 I was at 7cm! No one could believe it….but I could! The rushes that I was feeling were getting stronger and stronger. It was difficult to relax sometimes, only because they were occurring one on top of the other with little resting time in between. At the same time, I was willing them to come quickly so I would be that much closer to having the baby. Our midwives Vickie and Charlotte drew me a bath hoping to help me cope a little more comfortably. The water felt awesome and allowed me to contort my body in different ways to help with the growing intensity but man, by 11:00 I was in the transition phase and was having a lot of trouble fighting the urge to push! That was by far the most awkward feeling I’ve ever had. My body was practically convulsing….struggling to push while my brain was telling it not to. In between these crazy urges, Mike said I kept falling asleep. I was leaning on the edge of the tub and my face would fall down into the water, waking me back up. I remember feeling incredibly thirsty and exhausted during this point.

The second I was allowed to push….it felt AMAZING! Such a weird feeling! This rolling wave of momentum would thunder and roll through my chest, down through my stomach and pelvis and toward my legs.

Vickie had me get out of the tub and lay down on the bed so she could examine me again. I was fully dilated at this point but apparently a part of my cervix had still not pushed back over Quinn’s head so she was urging me to resist pushing to avoid inflammation of any tissues. Holding back was so excruciatingly difficult! I was trying to quickly blow air out while fighting the pushing urges but it was getting so tough. Mike was trying so hard to comfort me and keep me relaxed… I remember him softly rubbing my shoulders and running his fingers through my hair.

About thirty minutes later, I knew my body was ready, whether my cervix was or not! After no progress during this time, Vickie finally decided to let me go with the pushing urges to see if that might push the cervix back. The second I was allowed to push….it felt AMAZING! Such a weird feeling! This rolling wave of momentum would thunder and roll through my chest, down through my stomach and pelvis and toward my legs. At the end of each push, I could feel this rush of pressure release and slowly push the baby down. Through each contraction, I strived to reach that last point where I could feel Quinn slowly moving through the birth canal. It was the only sign that indicated that I was making progress getting her out.

After about forty-five minutes of pushing things got REALLY intense. Quinn was lodged in the birth canal and not moving. Mike and the three midwives were hovering over me at that point…encouraging me to push as hard as I could. In between contractions, Mike would put the oxygen mask on me and encourage me to drink to stay hydrated. Apparently I was turning colors. I was trying SO hard to push at this point…I wanted to see her so badly!

My body almost had a mind of its own because I can’t remember very much. The only thing that stands out to me was Mike excitedly shouting “You’ve got this Tara! Come on!!! You can do it!” and helping to hold my legs while I pushed. I remember Vickie saying something about how the baby was coming out with one of her arms up by her head and that her shoulders were stuck. They had to get her out NOW. And I really remember the extreme pressure once she used her hands to physically twist Quinn’s body around inside of me to pull her out one shoulder at a time at 1:02am.

I vaguely remember a little grey body on my chest and looking at Mike to try to figure out what was going on. I was so exhausted and delirious, the only thing that made sense to me was seeing him there beside me. I looked up at some point to see Vickie putting an oxygen mask on Quinn and rubbing her little body vigorously. They then put a little tube down her throat to start sucking out fluid. I rested while all this was happening, too confused and tired to understand that there was eventually a (8lb 11oz!) baby laying on my chest again. They even had me cut her umbilical cord! I can barely remember doing it! But what I do remember is the sweet sound of a baby crying. I immediately snapped out of my post delivery trance that I was in and I looked over to see my sweet Mike holding a little bundle of flailing arms and legs!

It was such an incredible experience….I just can’t believe I did it. There were some incredibly intense parts but I am proud of myself for staying calm and letting my body do what it was meant to do. I am also so grateful for Mike and how wonderful of a partner and coach that he was. He stayed so calm and attentive, constantly encouraging me and embracing me when I was struggling through contractions. I couldn’t have gone through this without him. What an amazing man!

That’s Quinn’s birth story. I wanted to write it down before time encourages forgetfulness. Mike and I are both so happy, and Quinn is so incredibly precious, sweet and beautiful.

Comments on A Castor oil-assisted birth

  1. Thanks for sharing your story!

    I just want to note that castor oil by itself isn’t homeopathic, especially if it tasted like oil rather than like a lactose pill. But it is natural and perhaps even naturopathic! I’m glad it worked for you

  2. Your birthing experience and mine were so shockingly similar! Even the times you listed were like mine! I delivered on August 11 – an 8 lb. 2 oz baby boy! I had tried everything to naturally induce labor with no such luck but I finally went into labor on my own at 42 weeks, the day that they scheduled my induction! Congrats on your beautiful little girl!

  3. I’m trying to get my bachelor of midwifery; it’s insanely difficult and the acceptance rate for the program is ridiculously low, but every time i start doubting myself, i read stories like yours and get all that excited momentum back to keep at it, so i can spend my life being a part of stories like yours!. fantastic story!

  4. Thank you so much for telling this beautiful and inspiring birth story. I am 40 weeks at midnight and they are trying to schedule an induction for next week. My midwife suggested castor oil so that we can try to have the natural birth that we wanted. I am going to take it at midnight and I will be thinking of your story! By the way you and your husband look like such a cute couple with your adorable little Quinn! I can wait to see that same look of fatherly adoration on my husband’s face. Best wishes to you!

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