Is Cohosh Safe to Induce Labour?

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Dr. Sabiha Anjum (Obstetrician and Gynaecologist )
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Is Cohosh Safe to Induce Labour?

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Many women prefer using herbs for inducing labour. While herbs and herbal remedies are not recommended to induce labour and it’s best that women wait for their labour to start in most cases, women who are past their due date may want to bring on the labour using herbs such as cohosh. Using herbs is an alternative method for inducing labour, which may be suggested by herbalists but not prescribed by mainstream doctors. This article will tell you whether or not cohosh is safe to induce labour.

What Is Cohosh?

Cohosh is a plant with medicinal properties. Cohosh plant, native to North America, was used as a herbal remedy for menstrual cramps, arthritis, rheumatism, menopause problems, indigestion, depression, etc. Now, it is available worldwide.

There are two types of cohosh, namely blue cohosh and black cohosh, both of which are used to induce labour. Black cohosh and blue cohosh are two separate plants. They are available as tinctures, capsules or as tea. Read about the types of cohosh below:

Blue Cohosh

Blue cohosh, also called papoose root, induces labour without increasing contractions because it is antispasmodic. Hence it is also used to manage other gynaecological problems. It soothes the uterus during painful labour contractions. It can also control false labour/vigorous Braxton Hicks contractions. During birth, it makes the uterine contractions more coordinated.

Blue Cohosh

Black Cohosh

Black cohosh is a buttercup or snakeroot. It helps open up the cervix during childbirth and to manage menopause symptoms. It is said to have effects similar to the primary sex hormone estrogen, though there is no conclusive evidence of this.

Note: You may have heard of black cohosh being used for inducing labour, but it’s not a safe option to bring on the labour. Furthermore, black cohosh when combined with blue cohosh can be dangerous for the woman and her baby.

When Is Cohosh Used for Labour Induction?

Cohosh is generally used to induce labour from 37 to 41 gestation weeks. But tt should never be taken before that as it can cause a miscarriage. Cohosh is used only as an effective option when the mother has weak/irregular contractions because it helps reinforce and normalize uterine contractions. It also helps labour progress at a natural pace. But it should never be used without consulting a doctor. You’ll know why in the next section.

Is it Safe to Use Cohosh to Induce Labour?

The simple answer is ‘no’. Both black and blue cohosh are not safe to induce labour. Inducing labour using herbal supplements is not safe and is NOT recommended at all, as it can be downright dangerous for the health of the mother-to-be and her baby.

But if you wish to induce labour using this herb or any herb for that matter, you should do so only after confirming with your doctor and only under medical supervision. Learn about the side effects of using cohosh for inducing labour.

Side Effects of Using Cohosh to Induce Labour

Problems have apparently mostly occurred due to overdose:

  • There have been reports of concerns that blue cohosh can cause heart ailments in babies. There has been no mass evidence of this.
  • Excessive bleeding and postpartum haemorrhage have been reported in some cases.
  • Reportedly overdose of black cohosh can induce excessive uterine contractions, which may lead the black cohosh to cause pregnancy termination.
  • The combination of black and blue cohosh overdose has been associated with neurological problems in the baby.
  • Other milder side effects: indigestion, weight gain, vomiting, low blood pressure, headache and nausea.
  • Other more severe side effects: liver damage, seizures, visual problems and irregular heartbeats.

Safety Tips While Using Cohosh for Inducing Labour

Now while it’s not safe to use cohosh during pregnancy, if you still want to use it to bring on the labour, you must consult with your doctor first, as mentioned above. If your doctor gives a go-ahead, you must follow certain safety tips while using it. Learn about these safety tips below!

  1. Most complications occur due to a cohosh overdose. Please follow the guidelines for dosage strictly.
  2. Do not take black cohosh if you have anaemia or blood clotting problems. This is because cohosh causes blood thinning that can lead to excessive bleeding during delivery.
  3. Those who have aspirin intolerance should not take black cohosh because they share an element called ‘salicylic acid’.
  4. Patients with uterine fibroids or breast cancer should not take black cohosh because it induces hormonal changes that may have adverse effects.
  5. Do not take cohosh if you have liver problems.
  6. Do not take cohosh for a long time.

Cohosh is known to bring on the labour, but it’s not exactly the safest option out there, hence it’s best avoided. But if you do wish to use it, do so only under medical supervision.

Disclaimer: The information given in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We urge readers to seek the advice of a physician regarding the usage of cohosh for labour induction.

Also Read:

Tips on How to Prepare for Labour & Childbirth
Useful Tips for Easy Labour and Normal Delivery
Labour and Birthing Positions to Try during Delivery

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