I admit that I am not one for most naturopathic and alternative medicines. I love my migraine medicine, and you can take my Ambien from my cold, dead hands. (I won't need it.) So my postpartum tear was treated with drugs, but can tea bags help with a vaginal tear? Could I have saved my perineum with Lipton instead of Lidocaine?
I know, I know, it sounds weird. When I first heard about it, the only thing I could think was, "That is not the teabag most-closely associated with getting all up in your downtown." However, recent studies by the Fraser Health Systems in Canada suggested that tea time is for more than just fancy British people, it's also for fancy pained perineums.
So, how does it work? Well, the science makes sense. According to an article in the Human Brain Mapping journal, caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it acts to constrict capillaries, the tiny blood vessels that live near the surface of your skin, and their ilk upon exposure. When those are constricted, and blood flow is reduced, the swelling also reduces, which decreases the pain. Also, black tea is, according to the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research, a relatively good anti-inflammatory agent. Typically, people go to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), like naproxen or ibuprofen, for this reason. But tea is cheap, the Fraser study marked the likelihood of an adverse reaction as low to null, and the study suggested that tea bags can help with a vaginal tear as much as other common remedies such as ice.
Certified Doula and meditation guru, Rebekah Borucki tells Romper that she has heard of it being used as a general anti-inflammatory, but has yet to adopt this as a recommendation for use in the postpartum period. For her, it's all about the frozen maxi pads and witch hazel. You can't go wrong with a classic, right? But Borucki isn't ruling teabags out, either.
So how are they used? The women in the study placed black tea bags that were soaked in warm water directly against the torn perineum. (Can I go ahead and suggest you get the bags with no staple or string? I think I can.) You can place them on top of a maxi pad, or in a pair of menstruation panties with a maxi pad, according to midwifery website GentleBirth.com. After wearing the pads, cleanse as normal. That's it. It's worth a shot, right? Who knew postpartum care could feel so fancy.