Labor Cocktail: Does The Miracle Drug Live Up To Its Promise?

If the expected date of birth has long since passed, but the baby simply does not want to start its journey into the world outside of mama’s belly, pregnant women who are affected like to resort to a so-called labor cocktail to induce the birth.

Many mothers fear an artificial induction of labor and therefore try everything possible in advance to get their unborn child to come of its own accord after all.

For this purpose, midwives know a variety of tricks and aids that can be used in the days after the expected date of birth. Find out more here.

What Exactly Is A Labor Cocktail?

The word “labor cocktail” generally describes a mixture of various active ingredients and additives that are intended to stimulate labor. The main ingredient of all labor cocktails is castor oil, which has been known since the 18th century primarily as a highly effective laxative.

A wide variety of liquids are added to it, either to increase the effect of the castor oil or to improve the taste.

Why Transfer Is Not Good

Pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks and based on this knowledge, a birth date can be calculated by including the date of the last period before fertilization.

On the one hand, this serves to narrow down the period of birth, and on the other hand, all further legal, labor and insurance steps are based on this date.

However, the vast majority of babies are not born exactly on this calculated date, but within 14 days before or after it.

If there are no signs of an impending birth by the calculated date, the pregnant woman will be examined regularly from that day on.

Depending on the state of health and any special features or risks, these check-ups take place either daily or every few days. A so-called cardiotocograph (CTG) is also used during these examinations.

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A CTG can detect contractions and record the heartbeat of the unborn child.

The aim of these close-meshed checks is to ensure the supply of the fetus.

At the end of pregnancy, there is sometimes already a lack of space, placental calcification, umbilical cord squeezing and thus a possible undersupply of oxygen and nutrients to the child.

Past experience has shown that a transfer of more than ten days rapidly increases the risk of dangerous complications. For this reason, hospitals must induce labor at the end of the ten-day period.

This is usually done with locally acting prostaglandins, which stimulate labor, or by infusing oxytocin.

Many women want the birth to begin naturally. That’s why they try all kinds of tricks that are known to stimulate contractions and thus induce birth.

Labor Cocktail: Recommended By Midwives?

If a baby takes a particularly long time and there are absolutely no signs of impending birth, the pregnant woman can help. Towards the end of pregnancy, simple tricks are recommended that women can incorporate into their daily routine at home.

After the calculated date of birth, other methods, which should always be recommended and supervised by a midwife, can also be used.

In this way, heavily pregnant women are encouraged to remain active. Extensive and brisk walks are recommended with the side effect of plenty of fresh air to boost circulation.

Climbing stairs is also said to have a labor-promoting effect due to the specific pelvic movements. In pregnancy yoga, expectant mothers can learn special postures that allow the baby to slide deeply into the pelvis and stimulate the onset of labor.

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But babies can also be coaxed into the world comfortably on the couch: Pregnant women can motivate their baby with labor-promoting drinks such as verbena tea, ginger tea, raspberry leaf tea or coffee with a pinch of cinnamon.

A warm bath as well as hay-flower steam baths provide additional support. Midwives sometimes offer acupuncture and foot reflexology massages to induce labor.

All of these remedies can induce labor in a variety of ways. They provide a soft cervix, help open the cervix and can stimulate contractions.

Important to know: All these tricks can only induce birth when the woman’s body, and therefore the unborn baby, is already ready to give birth. That is why they usually work only at the end of the third trimester.

If the days pass after the calculated date of birth and the baby still feels very comfortable in mommy’s belly, midwives and pregnant women slowly resort to stronger aids.

In addition to the tricks mentioned above, women can now insert a tampon soaked in diluted clove oil, for example, and leave it in the vagina for an hour. The oil has a softening effect on the cervix and can also stimulate contractions.

If none of the tricks induce labor, a labor cocktail can eventually be taken.

Miracle Cure Labor Cocktail

Taking a labor cocktail is the last option to induce labor naturally. Therefore, this step is usually done a few days after the calculated date of birth.


A labor cocktail is a mixture of castor oil, the actual active ingredient that is supposed to induce labor, and additives that are supposed to enhance this effect or improve the taste.

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Example Of A Common Labor Cocktail Formulation

Castor oil

Castor oil is extracted from the tropical miracle tree “Ricinus communis” and has a stimulating effect on prostaglandin receptors. This means that it has the same effect as prostaglandins, which stimulate labor.

Fruit juice

Fruit juices, such as apricot juice, serve to improve the nasty taste of castor oil. Apricot juice also contains a lot of potassium, which is supposed to compensate for a potassium deficiency caused by castor oil.


A shot of light alcohol such as sparkling wine ensures that the castor oil can combine well with the fruit juice, thus improving the taste.

However, midwives and clinics have their own tried-and-true formulas, so ingredients may vary. For example, some midwives add verbena, which enhances the labor-inducing effect. Castor oil, however, is included as the main active ingredient in all cases.

What Exactly Does A Labor Cocktail Do?

The effectiveness is based on two mechanisms:

Stimulation of bowel activity: castor oil has a strong laxative effect. The stimulated bowel also mechanically irritates the uterus and stimulates it to contract as well.

Stimulation of prostaglandin receptors: Castor oil couples to the prostaglandin receptors, which are thereby stimulated to induce labor.

To take full effect, the labor cocktail should be drunk within 30 minutes. The amount of a cocktail varies between one and two glasses.

Usually, contractions can be detected on the CTG after just a few hours, and these increase relatively quickly. In individual cases, however, labor cocktails remain ineffective.

When Is A Labor Cocktail Administered?

A labor cocktail is usually administered within one to two weeks of the calculated due date.


An essential prerequisite for the administration of a contraceptive cocktail is cervical maturity. This means that the cervix must be soft and, in the best case, already slightly open. Otherwise, a contraction cocktail must not be taken. Also, the unborn baby should already be deep in the pelvis in the cephalic position.

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Risks And Side Effects

If a labor cocktail is drunk when the cervix is immature, it may stimulate contractions, but the cervix will not open. This means that the baby is continuously pushed down by the contractions, but encounters a solid barrier and cannot be born.

This is a serious complication and necessitates an emergency cesarean section.

Another common side effect is digestive problems such as diarrhea and vomiting.

This happens especially with overdose. Severe diarrhea and vomiting lead to fluid and electrolyte losses, which weaken the body and circulation and are thus rather detrimental to an optimal birth condition.

For this reason, it is especially important never to prepare a labor cocktail yourself, but to leave this to an experienced midwife or competent gynecologist.

In addition, sudden, strong contractions can cause great stress for both mother and child, which has a negative effect on the birth process. The regression of the uterine muscles can also be affected by a cocktail of contractions.


Although a labor cocktail is a relatively reliable method that can induce labor, its use does carry some risks. So, this remedy should be mixed and taken only under strict supervision of experienced experts.

In addition, the conditions for taking it (such as a cervix ready for delivery and medical urgency of the birth) should always be met.

No more desire for the arduous pregnancy or impatience are understandable arguments, but not indications for the use of such a remedy.


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