We spend quite a bit of time preparing for our baby’s arrival.
We make sure to have nappies/diapers, rash cream, lotions, and potions of all kinds to be sure our baby’s bum is well protected.
Usually proper hygiene (e.g. frequent changes) and avoiding triggers, such as certain brands of wipes, fragrances, or food intolerances, is enough to keep our baby’s bum happy. We spend so much time worrying, and they’re fine.
But what about us?
I mean, we just helped a human out of our body. Is our bottom region okay?
Why Every Mama Needs A Postpartum Sitz Bath
Many soon-to-be mamas spend little if any time preparing to take care of their own bottom and perineum.
What can we do to help soothe our sore perineum? An old fashioned, simple trick is often the best remedy.
A postpartum sitz bath offers some serious healing powers.
What Is A Sitz Bath?
A sitz bath is simply a soak for your bottom. It’s often done with a little tub that sits atop your toilet. Regular baths can help just as much, but few new mothers have time to soak a couple times a day in a full tub.
Because it can be soothing to have water, herbs and Epsom salts on your sore perineum, many mothers find having a sitz bath allows them to do so several times a day for a few minutes at a time – you know, those brief moments before a newborn loses it because she isn’t attached to your breast.
Why Will My Perineum Need Healing?
Birth is a normal physiological process that often unfolds well. However, even in the gentlest birth, the perineum goes through quite a bit. It isn’t uncommon to experience swelling and discomfort.
It’s common to experience some minor grazing or tearing requiring healing. Many women may also have tearing which require stitches. And while it’s not as common as it once was (thankfully!) some women will still experience a surgical cut, an episiotomy, which always requires stitching.
Haemorrhoids, vulvar varicosities, internal vaginal varicose veins, etc. can occur due to the increased blood flow during pregnancy. With the added pressure and weight of pregnancy, these common ailments can make for a generally sore bottom.
If you’re lucky enough to get through pregnancy without any haemorrhoids, some women will experience them from pushing during birth, and dealing with postpartum constipation.
As you can see, an important part of labour preparation is being ready to help your perineum heal after birth.
What Healing Power Does A Sitz Bath Have?
Sitz baths have been around for a very long time. Warm and soothing water can be a great way to help your sensitive parts. And for the last few hundred years, Epsom salt has been routinely added to sitz baths due to its healing properties.
Sitz baths have healing properties which include:
- Increasing blood flow to the perineum, vulva, vagina, etc. The warm water increases blood flow which can help promote healing and reduce swelling.
- The increased blood flow and soothing properties can also help relieve itching and pain.
- Aid in healing haemorrhoids.
- Promote relaxation which can help with cramping, constipation and overall discomfort.
- The warmth can help relax sore pelvic muscles.
- A simple way to cleanse the area which can feel a bit yucky with the combination of lochia (postpartum bleeding and discharge), sweating, and wearing a sanitary pad.
The added Epsom salt has healing properties which include:
- Anti-inflammatory properties to help swelling
- The magnesium can help with cramping
- Soothing the skin which helps with itching
- The magnesium can promote the production of serotonin to help you feel more relaxed and reduce the effects of adrenaline and other stress hormones.
Do I Need A Small Tub Or Kit To Have A Sitz Bath?
One of the reason sitz baths can be so helpful is they tend to be quicker than a full soak in the bath tub. When possible, getting a sitz bath which sits atop the toilet can help you easily fit in a few soaks a day.
If you’re not able to get a small tub or kit, you can use your regular bath tub and just fill it enough to soak your bottom.
If you give birth at a hospital, you can ask the staff if they have a sitz bath available. It can be great to use before discharge and you’re often able to take them home.
Many pharmacies and health stores have sitz bath kits available for purchase. While they’re excellent for new mothers, sitz baths are used for a variety of conditions making it easy to find the kits in stores.
What Can I Put In A Sitz Bath?
A soak just in warm water can be soothing. However, most sitz baths include Epsom salts for the healing properties listed above.
Many women also find adding herbs to their sitz bath can further promote healing and relaxation. A full herb bath can be incredibly relaxing for new mothers.
With the busyness of a newborn, it can be hard to find time for a full bath. Adding herbs to a sitz bath helps you reap the benefits of an herb bath more frequently than you’re able to get into a full tub.
There are many combinations which women find helpful. Some ingredients used include:
- Epsom salt
- Himalayan salt
- Witch hazel
- Coconut oil
- Aloe vera
- Red raspberry leaf
- Baking soda
- Lavender essential oil
- St. Johns Wart
- A variety of essential oils.
Whenever you’re using essential oils, herbs, etc. it’s a good idea to check with a herbalist or health professional about use and safety. Many midwives and some doctors are familiar with postpartum herbal baths and sitz baths.
Be sure to read 7 Herbal Bath Soak Recipes For New Mothers for easy to follow herbal bath recipes and ideas.
What Else Do I Need To Know About My Perineum?
While even the gentlest birth requires healing, how you give birth will impact how much healing your perineum needs.
As you prepare for birth, these articles can help you make informed decisions which may reduce your postpartum healing time:
Postpartum sitz baths can be incredibly healing. However, there are many ways to help promote healing your perineum after birth. Things that help promote healing include:
- Using witch hazel
- Applying ice packs
- Cleansing with a peri-bottle and being careful with wiping
- Being careful with bowel movements, and avoiding or treating constipation
- Be sure you’re healed and you get the okay from your midwife or doctor before resuming secual activity.
Be sure to read 6 Ways To Heal Your Perineum After Giving Birth for more information about helping your body heal.