The labor cocktail

What is a labor cocktail?

The so-called labor cocktail is a drink that consists of various natural ingredients and is supposed to promote the onset of childbirth. A labor cocktail is prepared by the responsible midwife and is only considered if the birth is delayed or complications arise that endanger the well-being of the child in the womb.

The effective component of the labor cocktail is castor oil. The castor oil has a laxative effect. Further components of the labor cocktail serve to dilute the castor oil and to neutralize the bad taste.

A labor cocktail should under no circumstances be prepared and consumed on your own! It is used in maternity clinics under the supervision of doctors and midwives.

When is a labor cocktail administered?

A labor cocktail is only recommended in Germany if the birth is significantly delayed. Exceeding the calculated due date by 14 days is called "transfer". It can also happen that the amniotic sac has already burst, but labor does not start. Basically, in all cases in which the well-being of the child in the womb is endangered or comprehensive care via the placenta is not or no longer guaranteed, the "artificial" induction of childbirth is considered.

A prerequisite for giving the labor cocktail is that the mother's body must be ready for birth - that means the cervix must be open or at least soft.

At the end of the 41st week of pregnancy, labor induction measures, such as taking a labor cocktail, can be used. After taking the cocktail, the effect sets in within approx. 6 hours. The cocktails are always initiated under the supervision of an experienced doctor and a midwife and should never be taken at home without medical supervision!

Do you have anymore questions? Further information on this topic can be found here: Induce labor - when, with what and what are the risks?

What ingredients does a labor cocktail contain?

The effective ingredient in labor cocktail is usually castor oil. This acts as a natural laxative. This means that castor oil has a laxative effect. The laxative effect of castor oil is based on a stronger contraction of the bowel, and this increased bowel activity also stimulates the muscles of the uterus, which are ultimately responsible for labor.

Furthermore, castor oil also seems to have a direct effect on prostaglandin receptors on the uterus, which also leads to labor-inducing effects.

Other ingredients are

  • Almond sauce,
  • Apricot juice,
  • various essential oils and
  • different spices.

These additional ingredients serve to neutralize the rather unpleasant taste of the castor oil. It is important to note that virtually every midwife or hospital has developed its own special recipe for labor cocktails - so there is no uniform mix.

Those are the risks and side effects of taking it

Taking a labor cocktail also carries certain risks that must be considered. Therefore, the decision to take a labor cocktail should always be made by doctors and midwives together with the expectant mother.

If the cervix is ​​not ready for delivery, complications can arise during childbirth. It is therefore very important to precisely determine the right time to take the cocktail.

Risks to the unborn child

Ingesting a labor cocktail can be detrimental to the baby if it contains alcohol. Alcohol, in the form of sparkling wine or even schnapps, is often mentioned in recipes for labor cocktails on the Internet, but it should be avoided at all costs! The child's blood circulation is connected to the maternal one via the placenta, whereby alcohol can get into the blood of the fetus and thus reach all organ systems, but above all can leave permanent damage in the brain. For this reason, alcohol in any form is absolutely taboo during pregnancy!

Furthermore, the occurrence of labor can cause fetal stress. This means that the child's circulation is impaired. Fetal stress, however, is not dangerous to a certain extent; rather, it triggers contractions naturally. Labor and fetal stress are mutually dependent.

However, it is dangerous to induce labor when the cervix is ​​still closed.

Risks and side effects in the mother

Since castor oil has a strong laxative effect, a common side effect of the labor cocktail is diarrhea. The diarrhea can in turn lead to severe fluid loss and impaired circulation and exhaustion of the mother. Severe exhaustion of the mother in particular can lead to a further delay in the induction of labor, which can be countered competently in an obstetric clinic. In addition, the diarrhea causes a strong loss of potassium, which can trigger dangerous cardiac arrhythmias. This side effect can be counteracted in the clinic with infusions.

The unpleasant taste of castor oil can also cause nausea and vomiting. The addition of apricot juice, almond butter and various other things should weaken the bitter taste of the castor oil.