Naturally induce your labor at home with this recipe
What is the Midwives brew?
The Midwives’ brew is a drink that can trigger labor contractions by stimulating bowel movement, which can stimulate the uterine muscles. Most recipes contain a good portion of castor oil as the main ingredient. Castor oil causes bowel cramps or diarrhea in the human body.
Besides, a juice or apricot pulp reduces the loss of electrolytes and improves the brew’s taste.
Sometimes the midwives’ brew is also referred to as castor oil cocktail or german labor cocktail.
Does the Midwives brew really work?
According to scientific studies like this observational study published on pubmed.gov, the use of castor oil is related to a higher probability of labor initiation within 24 hours. You can check out the link to read more details about the clinical trials done, the success rate, and the scientific evidence behind it.
Some doctors advise against the Midwives’ brew because its effects can lead to dehydration, circulatory problems, and pain. Inducing labor contractions that way also only works if the uterus is ready for labor (meaning that the cervix is already opened a little bit).
Are you shortly before, on, or after the calculated due date and your baby is still in your tummy? So far, you have had a normal pregnancy without any complications? Your midwife, a friend, or the doctor may now advise you to use the Midwives’ brew to kick off the birth.
Read on to find out what this form of labor induction is all about, what the Midwives’ brew consists of, and how it works in your body.
Because the Midwives’ brew also has various dangerous side effects, I would like to point out in advance that you should never drink it without supervision from your medical practitioner.
When to drink the Midwives brew?
If a baby doesn’t kick off the birth within the given time frame, labor sometimes needs to be induced. You should only drink the midwives’ brew when you have reached or surpassed your due date. It only makes sense to try to induce your labor when you are sure your baby has reached full term.
Due to the continuously increasing risk of fetal mortality and morbidity due to placental insufficiency, most providers usually recommend the 3rd day of the 41st week of pregnancy as the best time for labor induction.
Depending on an evaluation before induction, different options will be available. The Midwives’ brew is a relatively natural form of induction. It is given in many hospitals as the first measure. If it doesn’t work, other options for hospital inductions will be the contraction drip or induction with tablets or gel follow.
Again, please don’t try this induction method before the completion of pregnancy. Your child might need these few extra days in your womb. Always have your baby in mind first. After all, the little ones usually know best when it is time for the natural delivery.
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Midwives’ brew recipe – ingredients
– 2 tbsp of castor oil
– 2 tbsp of almond butter
– 300 ml apricot juice
– 200 ml lemon verbena tea
That is the most common recipe for midwives’ brew. However, you will find different recipes online, and you can replace some ingredients if you want (or need) to:
Midwives brew recipe substitute
You can replace those ingredients with substitutes if you have an almond nut allergy or apricot allergy.
Castor oil is the main active ingredient; you should not replace that. (An essential oil can’t replace castor oil, either.) As a substitute for almond butter, you could use peanut butter. The apricot juice you can replace with pineapple juice, grape juice, or orange juice. And the lemon verbena tea you could substitute with mango nectar.
Castor oil can’t be replaced by an essential oil.
How to make Midwives brew
- The first thing is to boil lots of water and brew the tea. Make sure to let the tea bag sit for at least 10 mins, so it becomes a strong infusion.
- Mix all the other ingredients and add to the tea. Then put it in a blender until the blended paste becomes smooth.
- Pour it into a glass and drink it in one go or over an hour.
If you want to achieve the best results, the Midwives’ brew is apparently more effective at room temperature or even warm.
(However, most women don’t like the taste, and it’s also ok to drink it with ice if there is no other way for you to get it down.)
The effects of Midwives brew on your body
Before you drink it, you surely want to know how it works and what will happen afterward. This question doesn’t have a general answer because every pregnant woman reacts differently. In theory, however, the Midwives’ brew should cause uterine contractions and kick off real labor contractions.
Castor oil is the main ingredient of Midwives’ brew. It is the main component of all the recipes. The other liquids are mainly added to enhance the effect or improve the drink’s taste.
The ricinoleic acid in castor oil acts directly on the intestines and triggers reactions (strong contractions of the intestinal muscles). In fact, it has been shown that ricinoleic acid acts directly on prostaglandin receptors in muscle cells in the uterine wall and the intestine. Therefore, uterine contractions are also stimulated in addition to the symptoms typical of a laxative.
This labor induction technique takes about two to six hours to show an effect. It works best if taken on an empty stomach.
Negative side effects and warning
Once again, I want to emphasize that you only take the Midwives’ brew under supervision from your medical doctor or midwife.
As mentioned above, the desired effect of induction of labor can only occur if the cervix has already opened a little bit. Therefore, consuming a Midwife’s brew as a woman whose body is not yet ready to give birth (lack of maturity of the cervix) can be dangerous for the mother and baby.
Castor oil, in particular, has numerous potential risks:
The most common side effects of this laxative are vomiting and diarrhea. Besides, intestinal cramps can occur. Diarrhea and vomiting rob your body of the energy you might need during childbirth.
The greater danger is that castor oil can enter your baby’s bloodstream and lead to a bowel movement.
If the meconium gets into the amniotic fluid, it turns green, which is always a warning and could potentially lead to an infection of the baby’s lung after birth.
After all, the effect of the Midwives’ brew is unpredictable: Just as nothing can happen, it is also possible that the birth may begin within a short time. You could be surprised by the violent contractions and the rapid process.
Therefore, you should really only ever consume the Midwives’ brew under observation and supervision or after a detailed discussion with your provider. They might even tell you to have at least your midwife present to monitor your heart rate. Remember to prioritize yourself and your own body as a healthy mom.
Under no circumstances should you mix and drink it on your own. Ensure that there is at least your husband, your doula, your midwife, or a friend with you when you take it. If the side effects kick in and you suffer through diarrhea and vomiting while heavily pregnant, you might be very grateful to have a support person with you.
To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of water once your stomach allows you.
My story with the Midwives brew
Personally, I had tried to induce labor that way with my firstborn 5 days past his due date. My healthcare provider had recommended it to me.
Ever since, I have no question about the general effectiveness of castor oil: I had all the side effects of feeling super sick, having crazy cramps, feeling painful contractions, and suffering from severe diarrhea.
But that was it. The whole thing didn’t lead to what I was hoping for.
No other effects, no labor in sight… My little baby was born 4 days later. That was after I had given up on trying to get things going and without medical induction. The only thing I continued doing was drinking my red raspberry leaf tea and regular walks. Then, he came on his own beautiful time.
I don’t regret having tried the brew, but I probably wouldn’t try it again with another baby in the future.
Midwives brew success stories
For a success story, check out some internet forums or YouTube videos. Many birth stories are documented there, including natural induction with the Midwives’ brew. Some mamas even try the Midwives’ brew several times after their due date.
Generally said, many pregnant women have successfully induced their labor with the Midwives’ brew. So, if your medical provider permits you to give it a go, why not try this natural method? In the best case, you might just be holding your baby in less than 24 hours already! Check out these 9 exciting signs that labor is 24-48 hours away!
And maybe your baby actually needs a few more days. Not all little ones come in the exact time frame given during an ultrasound scan in week 12. Try to stay patient and relax if you can.
Is your hospital bag (for mom, dad, and baby) all packed and ready? Do you have all the 10 newborn essentials prepared and organized? Distract yourself in the best way possible, do some curb walking, eat spicy food, and enjoy these last few days with your bump as much as you can.
Alternatives to the Midwives brew
Other labor induction methods than castor oil
Do you still have a little time until the calculated due date but have become impatient? Are you in the last weeks of pregnancy and feeling the urge to actively do some natural labor induction? Check out these other natural ways to induce your labor at home. Did you know that, for example, nipple stimulation with a breast pump is known as a very effective way to trigger active labor?
Hopefully, you will soon be able to hold a healthy baby in your arms! Wishing you all the best for your labor and delivery!
Oh, and if you haven’t already started using birth affirmations, check out how they can be a great prep and help for giving birth.