Home from the hospital with a new baby and struggling with recovery? Sitz baths are exactly what your body needs. Read on the learn how to take a postpartum sitz bath and why they’re so great for recovery.
Woohoo! You just had a baby! I know you’re floating on cloud nine with those sweet new baby snuggles… but I *also* know from two vaginal births myself that you are in at least some level of discomfort and pain.
One of the most wonderful things you can do for your postpartum recovery are postpartum sitz baths. (Be sure you have been approved by your doctor before you take one!)
I am a big believer that there’s not enough conversation around the TMI and uncomfortable parts of postpartum recovery. Having a positive postpartum recovery is so incredibly important not only for your body to heal, but also for you to feel good mentally and emotionally.
Leading up to the birth of my first child, I thought I was totally prepared and ready for recovery. One of the biggest areas I struggled to find a lot of information on was postpartum recovery. I’m so grateful I hired a doula and took a series of birthing classes that covered this, or I would have been incredibly unprepared for those first few weeks.
If no one has given you this heads up, the first few days home after childbirth are rough. You feel gross. Your body is in pain. And if you had a vaginal birth, your downstairs area is ANGRY.
I was so uncomfortable and felt so tender after childbirth that I would have tried anything to give me relief. That’s how I learned about postpartum sitz baths. It was a huge game changer for helping me feel better faster, and I know it also helps so many other new moms, too!
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What is a Postpartum Sitz Bath?
A sitz bath is a warm, shallow bath designed for cleansing the perineal area. It actually comes from the German word “sitzen,” which means to sit. While it can be used at any time, a postpartum sitz bath is highly recommended for women who have recently had a vaginal birth. A warm sitz bath helps to speed up healing and blood flow to the area, helping you feel better faster.
Sitz baths are actually pretty easy to do yourself! You can either use a special basin that is designed for this purpose and sits securely on a toilet seat, or you can also fill your bath tub up with a small amount of water and sit in that instead.
Why Are Postpartum Sitz Baths So Great?
I loved postpartum sitz baths for a few reasons:
- Pain Relief. Warm water is incredibly soothing postpartum (and once you can handle hot water, that’s even better). Perineal pain varies from new mom to new mom, but for most of us it’s a very unique kind of ache. Many women also struggle with having a bowel movement because of this, and a sitz bath can help bring relief. If you choose to add epsom salt or essential oils, herbal baths can make an even bigger impact on your pain level. If you are struggling with warm water, you can try to dissolve the epsom salts and essential oils in warm water and let it cool a take cold sitz baths instead.
- Speeding Up Healing. It’s amazing how many “natural” postpartum recovery techniques have been shown to help speed up the healing process! Check out this article at WebMD.com for more details.
- Cleaning Up. You’re going to feel pretty uncomfortable down there for a minute, and even using medicated wipes or a peri-bottle might be painful. Being able to submerge yourself even a little bit in water will help you not only feel better, but will also help you keep your healing body cleaner.
Also FYI: sitz baths are also supposed to be great for treating the inflammation and itching if you get hemorrhoids (which I’ve never had, but I’ve heard are a nightmare. So yes to everything and anything that helps!)
A Few Notes About Sitz Baths
You might have read that you shouldn’t get into a hot bath for up to 6 week postpartum. I asked my midwife about this, and they said that the biggest reason it’s not recommended by some doctors is that it could potentially force the water up, into where your body is healing.
She also told me that she personally doesn’t tell her patients not to take baths, and actually recommends sitz baths as there are only a few inches deep. A warm bath can truly make a big impact on how you feel, especially in that first week if you have the go ahead from your medical provider.
However, it is important that you talk to your own personal doctor before taking a postpartum sitz bath. This blog post is meant to provide general information, but I am NOT a medical professional!
How to Take a Postpartum Sitz Bath
A sitz bath should be a shallow bath, submerging only the bottom part of your body. You have a couple of options when it comes to where you take your sitz bath. If you aren’t comfortable getting into the tub just yet, a sitz bath basin is a great option.
You can buy one of these simple, on top of the toilet sitz baths from a variety of places, including Walgreens, CVS and Amazon:
Just place it on top of a toilet and you’re ready to go. All of the above sitz bath options also function as a portable sitz bath, so you can use it wherever you feel comfortable.
You can also use your own bathtub for a sitz bath by filling it with just a few inches of water.
If you are using your tub, first, clean your bathtub well. If you’re not able to bend over to do it, have someone clean it for you. You want to make sure your tub is super clean as you have an open wound.
Fill your tub with just enough water to submerge your lady bits. You can use either warm or cold water, so experiment with what temperature feels best to you.
Add epsom salt and essential oil. I personally chosen lavender oil which is incredibly relaxing. Make sure you do your research and choose a high quality essential oil, as you have an open wound. Here are a few great ones!
My doula recommended epsom salts for a variety of soothing both while pregnant and postpartum. Epsom salt baths helps reduce swelling, discourage infection and encourages healing. I recommend buying it in bulk to not only make it more affordable, but also because you’re going to use a lot of it postpartum!
There are many good quality epsom salt soaks, dead sea salt mixes and pre-made postpartum mixes that are available for purchase from a variety of places. Here are a few of my favorites from Amazon:
Soak your perineal area for 15-20 minutes.
Use soft towels that you don’t mind getting stained to pat dry (don’t rub!!).
Repeat up to 2-3 times per day.
That’s it. Simple and easy, and it will make such an impact on how you feel!
Postpartum Sitz Bath Recipe
If you’re feeling creative and have enough energy, you can even create your own herbal sitz bath!
If you are looking for inspiration, here are is a postpartum sitz bath recipe that I personally made and used after the birth of my second child. This recipe was given to me by a midwife friend, and also makes a great gift to put together for any new mamas you might know!
This one is created from fragrant blossoms and is uplifting, healing, soothing and antiseptic. You can purchase the herbs you need either online or from many local organic shops. It’s a good idea to mix up more than you need, and store the rest in an airtight container.
Postpartum Sitz Bath Recipe: Herbal Sitz Bath
Mix and store these herbs in a jar or other container:
- 1 ounce dried comfrey leaf
- 1 ounce calendula flowers
- 1 ounce lavender flowers
- 1/2 ounce dried uva ursi leaves
- 1/2 ounce witch hazel blossoms (if you can find them)
- 1/2 ounce dried sage leaf
- 1/2 cup sea salt
Directions: Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil on your stovetop. Turn off the heat, and place 1 ounce (which is about 1 large handful) of all of the above mixed herbs EXCEPT the salt into the pot. Steep, covered, for 30 minutes.
Strain the steeped liquid well with a fine mesh strainer, and discard the herb material. Add 2 quarts of liquid to the tub, along with the 1/2 cup of salt.
You can also use the tea as herbal compress to speed healing. Simply soak a clean washcloth in the herbal tea. Apply it warm or cold to your perineum area as needed to help reduce tenderness and swelling.
Postpartum Sitz Bath Kits
Interested in taking a sitz bath, but don’t have the energy or time to track everything down you need? There are actually companies that make a postpartum sitz bath kit!
The following sitz bath kits can all be ordered on Amazon. Just click on each photo to learn more about each individual product!
How many days should you take a postpartum sitz bath after delivery?
This is totally personal preference. Take them as many days as you need or want to. Stop when you feel like you don’t need to anymore (or don’t want to).
Be sure to talk to your care provider before taking a “real” bath, especially if you had a lot of stitches or a c-section.
I personally struggled more with healing after my first baby (I was in labor for 45 hours). I took sitz baths once or twice a day for about two weeks with my first baby, and only for about a week with my second.
Sitz baths are a great way to speed healing after a vaginal birth, but they can also double as a wonderful way for you to take a little time for yourself. Those first few weeks with a newborn can be tough, and even just having 10 minutes of calm can help you feel a little more focused.
What Should I put in a Postpartum Sitz Bath?
One of the best things about a postpartum sitz bath is that you can really customize it. You can use warm or cool water (I don’t recommend cold or too hot!) and can use herbs, essential oils, epsom salt or gentle soap!
I personally love using essential oils. Not only are they soothing and smell fantastic, but there is also real research that shows the right combination of essential oils can help speed healing!
If you’re looking for the best essential oils for a postpartum sitz bath, here are a few I recommend that you can easily snag on Amazon. You can also find herbal blend varieties there too!
What else can I do to speed up my healing after birth?
There are so many great ways to help your body heal! Check out The 5 Things You Must Have for a Fast Postpartum Recovery
Seriously, give postpartum sitz baths a try. They made a huge difference for my recovery, and I know they will for yours, too.