The anticipation of the birth of your child may be too much for you to handle after 38-40 weeks. The internet and “mommy blogs”, which are online forums, have a wealth of DIY methods for getting the labour party going.
Many pregnant women are intrigued by the midwives’ brew, especially because it is named after a profession that guides women through labour. Can this concoction be trusted? And if it does, is it effective?
It can be difficult to find detailed safety information about midwives’ tea despite its popularity. This complete guide on midwives’ brew includes everything from recipes to safety.
The Midwives Brew Recipe without Castor Oil
Midwives’ Brew, which only uses 4 natural ingredients is a simple recipe. The basic recipe requires:
- Castor oil
- Lemon verbena, either as tea or essential oils
- Almond butter
- Apricot juice
The ingredients are mixed until they are fully combined, and then you can drink! (source: Gentle Midwife)
Many women wonder whether it is okay to swap out ingredients and if their brew still “works” as intended.
Castor Oil is a commonly asked ingredient swap. In midwives’ brew, castor oil is the main active ingredient, included to help stimulate contractions and thus labour.
In theory, you could use any other ingredient that stimulates contractions in place of castor oil if you want to make a midwives’ brew without it. You can also try raspberry leaf tea or anything spicy, like cayenne (source: OBGYN South). Check out this guide for more information on using raspberry leaf tea to induce labour.
Castor oil is the active ingredient. Read on to learn more about the other ingredients and their safety.
Apricot Juice can be difficult to locate. All the information I’ve read indicates that the apricot is used to mask the taste of the castor oil. Any juice with a strong flavour should do. The flavours of peach and Pineapple are also quite strong.
Is Midwives’ Brew safe? What are the side effects?
Safety is a major concern when using midwives’ brew, particularly in terms of safely causing labour. Midwives’ Brew is easy to identify as the ingredients are simple.
Midwives’ Brew Ingredient Safety
Apricot and almond butter both have a benign effect on the body. They are also more common than castor oil or lemon verbena in cooking. The only risk with apricot and almond butter is if either of you is allergic.
Lemon Verbena is available as a tea and essential oil. Lemon Teas are used for centuries to calm the stomach. They can be safely consumed during morning sickness. Lemon verbena oil or tea is likely to be included in this recipe due to the gastrointestinal effects of castor oil.
Lemon essential oils, or any essential oil for that matter, should be avoided during pregnancy. (Source: Mayo Clinic). If you want to make midwives’ tea, opt for lemon tea and skip the essential oil.
Castor Oil and Midwives’ Brew: Safety of Castor Oil
castor is last, but certainly not least. It is the primary active ingredient of midwives’ brew, and it also comes with the highest safety concerns. Castor oil is best known during pregnancy for its ability to stimulate uterine contractions. (Source: North).
Clinical trials have even shown promise for castor oil’s effects on stimulating labour (source: Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine,
Castor oil can cause intestinal and bowel muscle contractions. Castor oil can cause nausea, vomiting and severe diarrhoea.
Castor oil is not harmful to either mom or baby. Midwives’ Brew may cause contractions to be painful and too close together. This can reduce blood flow to the placenta. However, the amount of oil in the brew is very small, so it will not have this effect.
Castor oil is also thought to stimulate the baby’s intestines, causing the baby to pass meconium before natural delivery (or, to put it in another way, your baby will poop EVEN BEFORE natural birth, which can be enough to scare some women). Castor oil is not associated with a higher risk of a baby passing meconium before delivery.
Dehydration is another concern for the mother in labour, especially if she ends up with severe diarrhoea. It’s vital to stay hydrated during labour, as it can be a difficult and long process.
Does midwives’ brew work?
While midwives’ brew made with castor oil might work, there are much gentler, and to say nothing of more pleasant methods, to choose from.
Be sure to consult your doctor before trying midwives Brew or any other “natural labour stimulator” to make sure it is the right choice for you and your child.
When should I take midwives’ brew? How many weeks pregnant am I?
You’re likely familiar with “term pregnancy” if you’re pregnant.
The term “term” is defined as babies born between 37 and 42 weeks of gestation. However, the term “full-term” does not begin until 39 weeks or later. The two weeks between 37 and 38 weeks can make a huge difference to a baby’s development and growth.
The healthiest babies are typically born 39 weeks or later, making a delivery at or after 39 weeks the goal.
It’s best to wait until your baby is at least 39 weeks old. They tend to have the best outcomes. Avoid taking natural labour stimulants, such as midwives’ tea, until you reach 39 weeks of pregnancy.
It’s important to talk with your doctor before you take any “at-home steps” like the midwives’ tea. They may want you and your baby to be monitored more closely during active labour.
You can trust your body to deliver your baby at the perfect time. How long will you have to wait if you want to help them?
How long does it take for the Midwives Brew to work?
After you’ve mixed the concoction and slurped down your drink, it’s time to wait. There is no set time for midwives’ brew to start working.
If you’ve made the original recipe, which includes castor oil in it, the oil will most likely trigger contractions. According to a prior trial using only castor oil, the majority of women began labouring in 24 hours. (Source: Alternative Therapy in Health and Medicine).
Castor oil stimulates muscles to contract, which in turn encourages labour. It is also what triggers contractions in the uterus, as well as any nausea or abdominal cramps that may accompany them (source: Intermountain Healthcare).
Many of the reports surrounding castor oil and midwives’ brew are anecdotal. To be certain, further research is needed. The “original” midwives’ recipe, which contains castor oil, appears promising, based on my scientific studies.
What can you eat after drinking midwives’ brew?
The taste of midwives’ brew can be unpleasant and you may want to spit it out after consuming a glass.
Women who have tried it all suggest different things, from drinking the drink on an empty stomach or after eating. It is not scientifically proven that either method works.
Almond butter acts as a “buffer”, so drinking the drink without a meal is not going to be any more effective than taking it after a full dinner.
Review and Stories of Midwives Brew’s Success Rate
I quickly searched the internet to find out what women thought about midwives’ brew, which they drank to induce labour at their homes.
Not only were there a TON of forums touting the brew’s contraction-stimulating effects but also several video logs of women going through active labour after taking the drink. The consensus was that the midwives’ brew, though it didn’t taste great, did the job!
Castor oil is the best ingredient to support midwives’ brew, not the brew itself. Castor oil is an effective way of stimulating labour. Midwives’ Brew will likely work the same.
The Midwives Brew didn’t work – What now?
You don’t need to worry if you tried midwives Brew and were disappointed that your baby did not arrive quickly, or even worse if you found yourself feeling sick!
Castor oil is added to midwives” brew and can cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea. You should seek medical help if you experience any of these symptoms longer than 24 hours.
It is important to stay hydrated. Gatorade and other rehydration beverages are great options if you have diarrhoea or vomiting. Try a cup or two of Mint Tea. Ginger chews are also effective in calming your stomach. Check out our article for more foods that can help you fight nausea.
There are many other ways to encourage labour if you’re anxious to meet your baby. Many of the “natural” methods to encourage labour are anecdotal, at best. However, they can be done with little risk and are easy to do.
Some simple options are:
- Walking for exercise
- Nipple stimulation
- Spicy foods
(source: OBGYN North).
Finally, be patient. It’s the safest option. Together, your baby and your body will help your child make their debut. Enjoy the last moments of pregnancy. You’ll soon be holding your baby in your hands.
It can be difficult to get rid of the excitement about your baby’s birth. The midwives’ brew can be used as one of many “natural” home remedies to help induce labour. The common recipe, which only requires four ingredients, is easy to make, but not very tasty.
It’s believed that castor oil is the active ingredient. Studies have shown it to cause contractions in the uterus. Castor oil/midwives brew, besides having a bad taste and causing contractions, can also cause severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
You can only drink midwives’ brew if you are at least 39 weeks pregnant. As always, you should discuss “natural” ways to stimulate labour with your healthcare provider.