Why I Love Evening Primrose Oil

So as everyone probably knows I am super pregnant. Like, stick a fork in me, I’m done. So of course, I’ve reached the point where the preparation for my actual birth starts to ramp up heavily. I already created a post singing the praises of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea (read here). Now I want to share my love of another 3rd Trimester secret weapon, Evening Primrose Oil.

Evening Primrose Oil

I started taking Evening Primrose Oil at 36 weeks when I was pregnant with my son with hopes to use it’s prostglandin properties to prep my cervix for labor and hopefully prevent tearing. I had heard other women preach other benefits such as the shortening of labor or it causing you to dilate more quickly, etc. I did some research back then and had a pretty good outcome so I’m going to be taking it again and thought I would share. I’m not a doctor, birth worker, scientist, research expert, etc. – just a curious mom. 

There aren’t many studies available to prove or disprove the efficiency of Evening Primrose Oil’s benefits during pregnancy. Most researchers conclude that although there is anecdotal and historical evidence to suggest that this supplement can promote easier birth, prevent preterm delivery, induce labor, and ripen the cervix – there is simply more research needed to come to a more concrete conclusion (source).

So here is the basic rundown. Evening Primrose Oil is a natural supplement that has long been used to help efface the cervix in the last weeks of pregnancy, prevent perineal tearing, and promote a quicker, intervention-free birth.

Research is limited and inconclusive about the effect on the birth process itself (source), but there are studies to establish the positive effect the supplement can have on the skin as far as preventing perineal trauma during labor (source). There is also limited evidence on the actual effect the supplement can have on the cervix as far as dilation and effacement.

Anecdotal evidence should obviously be taken with a grain of salt, but in my experience, it did not help my body to progress at all in my first pregnancy when I only took the capsules orally. I didn’t have any significant dilation or effacement, period and ended up with an induction at 41 weeks. I did not, however, suffer any perineal trauma and that, my friends is why I chose to take it again in my second pregnancy. The second time, I started to insert a couple capsules a day around the 39 week mark and that really sent things into motion for me. The day I started, plug started coming loose and I could feel my body contracting and getting ready for labor. I gave birth to my daughter on her due date, labored mostly at home and spent less than 24 hours in the hospital. Zero tearing. I am a believer.

I used the NOW Softgel Capsules in my first pregnancy and recently purchased them again for this one. They are available in 250mg, 500mg, 1000mg, and 1300mg dosages. The higher the dosage per pill, the less pills you have to take. I recommend the 500mg, which is what I use.

Here is the Evening Primrose Oil regimen I followed in my last pregnancy (and now, this one):

36 Weeks Pregnant: (1500mg per day)

37 Weeks Pregnant: (3000mg per day)

38 Weeks Pregnant: (4500mg per day)

39 Weeks Pregnant-Delivery: (6000mg per day)

Some women like to apply the EPO directly to the cervix or use the oil for perineal massage. I did not do this the first time, but chose to do it the second time and had great results. I started around 39 weeks, just inserting two capsules at night.

To do this, you just poke a hole in the softgel and insert it up as far as it will go, and it will dissolve. Wear a pantyliner since oil can leak out, and preferably apply at night before bed so you aren’t walking around with an oil capsule shoved up your hoo-ha. For perineal massage, you can cut open the capsule, dispense the oil in your hands and perform the manual stretches (ouch). Not a lot of experience with this on my part, so here’s a link to someone with a little more insight.


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