To facilitate quicker delivery and prevent tissue rupture, women may undergo an episiotomy, a surgical incision made in the perineum. While sometimes medically necessary, episiotomy is known to cause pain for a week or two after it is done, potentially negatively affecting the motherhood experience.1
Besides pain-relievers, women oftentimes reach for natural remedies, including hot and cold compresses and herbal solutions. For such uses, chamomile's abundance in analgesic and anti-inflammatory compounds could potentially bring the needed relief.
The purpose of this trial was to evaluate whether chamomile cream can relieve the pain after episiotomy.
Involved in the study were 114 women, aged 18 to 35, who have had a vaginal birth (with episiotomy) for the first time. The study was conducted at the obstetrics clinic in Mashhad, Iran.
Women were randomly assigned to two groups, each with a different regimen. Once they delivered their babies, the groups were told to use either 1.3% chamomile cream or the placebo cream. Treatment consisted of two daily applications (0.5 grams each) on the stitches for 10 days.
Episiotomy pain was evaluated before and several times during treatment, using the McGill pain questionnaire.
Out of all recruited women, 98 completed the study. Researchers did not observe significant improvements at the 12-hour checkup and during the first day after delivery.
However, on the 7th, 10th, and 14th-day check-ups, women in the chamomile group showed substantially lower pain scores than those receiving the placebo.
Both the chamomile cream and placebo cream were well tolerated by all mothers.
What Does this Mean?
The results of this trial provide first-time mothers with solid evidence that chamomile cream can effectively reduce episiotomy pain. These effects were especially visible from the seventh day of treatment onwards.
Using such natural and safe methods to decrease the intensity of episiotomy pain will allow new mothers to better care for and bond with their newborns, without depending solely on pain-relieving medications.
- Journal of Caring Sciences, The Effect of Chamomile Cream on Episiotomy Pain in Primiparous Women: A Randomized Clinical Trial, 2017
- Journal of Advanced Nursing. (2003). Effects of episiotomy on bonding and mothers' health. Retrieved January 19, 2021 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5348659/