Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Research Center, Ibn-e-Sina Hospital, Faculty of Medicine , Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran
Background: Delivery is one of the critical stressful incidents in lives of most women and its associated complications can disturb the progress of labor and exacerbate post partum problems. Chewing gum is one of the new non-pharmacological methods to reduce stress. So far no study has been conducted to investigate the effect of chewing gum on the stress of labor. Aim: To determine the effect of mint chewing gum on salivary cortisol in nulliparous women in the first stage of labor. Methods: The study was a randomized, single-blind, controlled clinical trial in which 60 nulliparous women, who admitted at the first stage of labor in Omolbanin Hospital in Mashhad in 2012, were allocated to two experimental and control groups. The experimental group was asked to chew mint gum (1 gr) for 20 minutes and then their saliva sample were taken to measure cortisol level. Data were analyzed by independent and paried t-test in 5 percent level of significance with SPSS software version 11.5. Results: The mean salivary cortisol levels at the first and second measurement were respectively 44/9 ± 12/7 and 41/4 ± 13/0 in experimental and also 39/3 ± 10/3 and 42/8 ± 11/0 nmol in control group. The salivary cortisol level showed a significant increase from the first to the second measurement in control group(P<0.009), whereas a significant decrease was seen in these two measurments in experimental group (P<0.014).Two groups were significantly different in terms of the changes in stress levels between two measurements (P>0/001). Conclusion: Mint chewing gum reduces salivary cortisol level at the first stage of labor in nulliparous women, which is an evidence for reducing stress. Although careful judgment aboute the exact changes in stress level are needed both laboratory and clinical studies.
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