Naturally induce your labor at home with this recipe
What is the Midwives’ brew and how does it work?
The Midwives’ brew is a drink that can trigger labor contractions by stimulating bowel movement. Most recipes contain a good portion of castor oil as the main ingredient. Castor oil often leads to bowel cramps or diarrhea in the human body. Besides, a juice or apricot pulp reduces the loss of electrolytes and improves the taste of the brew.
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.
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 provider.
When can you use the drink to induce labor?
If a baby doesn’t kick off the birth within the given time frame, labor sometimes needs to be induced. Due to the continuously increasing risk of fetal mortality and morbidity due to placental insufficiency, induction of labor from the 3rd day of the 41st week of pregnancy is usually recommended.
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. In case it doesn’t work, other options for hospital inductions will be the contraction drip or induction with tablets or gel follow.
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, usually, the little ones know best when it is delivery time.
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Midwives’ brew recipe – ingredients
– 2 tablespoons of castor oil
– 2 tablespoons of almond butter
– 300 ml apricot juice
– 200 ml lemon verbena tea
If you have an almond allergy or apricot allergy, you can replace those ingredients with substitutes.
Castor oil is the main ingredient, and you should not replace that. As a substitute for almond butter, you could use peanut butter. The apricot juice you can replace with pineapple juice or even orange juice. And the lemon verbena tea you could substitute with mango nectar.
How to prepare the Midwives’ brew
Boil some water and brew the tea first. 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 them in a blender until the blended paste becomes smooth. More text here.
Pour it into a glass and drink it either in one go or over the time span of an hour.
Apparently, the Midwives’ brew is 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 after all, 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 either enhance the effect or improve the taste of the drink.
The ricinoleic acid contained 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 uterus, as well as in the intestine. Therefore, in addition to the symptoms typical of a laxative, uterine contractions are also stimulated.
This labor induction technique takes about two to six hours to show an effect.
Side effects and warning
Once again, I want to emphasize that you only take the Midwives’ brew under supervision from your 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, the consumption of a Midwives’ brew in women whose bodies are not yet ready to give birth (lack of maturity of the cervix) can be dangerous for 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 energy that you might need during childbirth.
The greater danger, however, is that the castor oil can get into 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 possible that the birth will begin within a short time, and 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.
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 whilst heavily pregnant, you might be very grateful to have some sort of support person with you.
To prevent dehydration, try to drink lots of water once your stomach allows you.
My personal story
Personally, I had tried to induce labor that way with my firstborn 5 days past his due date. My healthcare provider had recommended it for me.
I had all the side effects of feeling super sick, having crazy cramps, and suffer from strong diarrhea.
But, that was it.
No other effects, no labor in sight… My son was born 4 days later after I had given up on trying to get things going. He came on his own beautiful time.
I don’t regret having tried the brew but probably wouldn’t try it again with another baby in the future.
Midwives’ brew success stories
For a success story, check out videos on YouTube. There are many birth stories documented which include 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, then why not try this natural method out? In the best case, you might just be holding your baby in less than 24hours already!
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 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 actually still have a little time until the calculated due date but have become a bit impatient? Are you in the last weeks of pregnancy and feel the urge to actively do some natural labor induction? Check out my these other ways to naturally induce your labor at home.
Hopefully, you will soon be able to hold a healthy baby in your arms! Wishing you all the best for your labor and delivery!