In your search for postpartum care, you may have come across the idea of a sitz bath. Giving birth can leave you pretty uncomfortable in certain areas, and you may be looking for some much-needed relief. Postpartum sitz baths may just do the trick. So if you’d like to know everything about why you might use postpartum sitz bath as part of your post-birth recovery, read on.
What Is A Sitz Bath?
It is a shallow bath designed to treat pain in the genital region and promote faster healing. The term originated from the German word sitzbad – meaning to sit in a bath. Quite apt, really.
They are used to treat a number of issues that may arise in this region, but they have become very common in treating postpartum pain and discomfort. Perineal pain is common after delivery.
You can easily do this at home using the bathtub at home or you can use a sitz bath bowl (a specialised bowl that can fit onto the toilet seat).
Benefits Of Taking A Postpartum Sitz Bath
What are the benefits of using a sitz bath postpartum?
There are a number of benefits to sitz baths:
- A sitz bath postpartum will help you heal by decreasing swelling and inflammation of the perineal area.
- A sitz bath can relax the muscles in the perineum, providing relief for mothers who have had a tear or episiotomy.
- Soothes the soreness that comes from childbirth and hormonal changes.
- A sitz bath works to soothe itching associated with stitches.
- Regular sitz baths can help reduce the chance of infection, by keeping things clean.
After childbirth, it’s common for women to have stitches to repair some of the damage that delivery can do. Stitches can be on and around the vagina and can cause a lot of perineal pain.
Even if stitches aren’t involved, stretching and abrasions will most likely be present.
It’s important to keep things clean while the area is healing. Taking a postpartum bath is a non invasive way to cleanse the area, keep it clean and reduce the risk of infection.
Following on from hygiene, taking a sitz bath is antibacterial. The salt that is used in a postpartum bath can help prevent any infection setting into any postpartum wounds such as abrasions and stitches around the vagina.
Postpartum swelling in the perineum area is a very common occurrence and can cause significant discomfort. Sitz baths are helpful in reducing postpartum swelling. Coldwater is especially useful for this purpose.
Soothing To The Area
Sitting in a postpartum bath can be really, really soothing to the perineum area after childbirth. It helps reduce the pain and possible itching (especially after stitches). You can use essential oils and salts to aid in this process (which we will discuss later in the article).
Any type of relaxing activity is usually welcomed after labour, a therapeutic bath is just plain relaxing.
Relieves The Discomfort Of Haemorrhoids (a possible side effect of childbirth)
Sadly, a possible side effect of giving birth is haemorrhoids, however, if this does happen to you a sitz bath will really help with the discomfort.
Promotes Healing And Postpartum Recovery
Using warm water helps to increase the blood flow to the area, thus promoting postpartum healing.
How To Take A Sitz Bath
The main ingredient in a basic sitz bath is salt. Add two tablespoons to your therapeutic bath.
In Your Own Bath
This tends to be the easiest DIY sitz bath method. It’s uncomplicated and you don’t have to purchase anything.
Make sure you start with a clean bath tub.
Fill your bath up to about 3 inches of water. The bath only needs to cover your genital area and is not intended as a deep full-body bath. Mix in the bath salt until dissolved in the water.
You can choose to fill the bath with either warm or cold water, whichever feels the most soothing to you.
Do not add traditional soap, as this can cause further irritation in the area.
If you are feeling a little cold in the bath due to the shallow water, you could keep your upper body warm by wearing an old t-shirt.
Take your sitz bath and enjoy.
Gently pat yourself dry with a clean bath towel.
(top tip: It’s best to only use old towels that can get ruined, as you will still be bleeding significantly so soon after giving birth).
Using a Sitz Bowl
If you’re not one for sitting in a bath, then you may prefer this option.
Start by placing the sitz bowl on the toilet seat. Make sure it’s secure.
Add enough warm or cold water clean to make sure the water covers your genital area. Add the bath salt.
Sit down on the sitz bath bowl and let it do its job.
Gently pat dry when finished.
Sitz Bath Additions
To really make your sitz bath extra special, there are a few additions you can add. These can increase the effectiveness of the healing process. These additions can also create a more soothing effect.
Using Essential Oils In Your Sitz Bath
You can use essential oils to enhance the effect of your therapeutic bath. They can both aid healing and soothing as well as being very relaxing, depending on the oils you use. They can be especially helpful if you develop hemorrhoids after childbirth.
Read on to see which essential oils are the best to use in your postpartum bath.
How To Use Essential Oils In Your Sitz Bath
The best practice for using essential oils in your sitz bath is to blend them with the salts you will be using. You can use several essential oils at once. It just depends on how you would like to take your therapeutic bath.
It’s important though to only one 5-6 drops in your bath. Essential oils are quite strong, so a little goes a long way.
Best Sitz Bath Essential Oils
- Lavender oil is a great essential oil to use. It’s both antibacterial and extremely relaxing. Use this essential oil if you’d like to truly relax while you are taking your bath. Using this before bed will help promote good sleep. Very beneficial after childbirth and needed as a new mom.
- Frankincense is an excellent choice to relieve the swelling associated with childbirth. It is also reported to help with pain relief. Plus, it has a very pleasant scent so aids in relaxation too.
- Chamomile is another essential oil that promotes relaxation and soothes the area after childbirth. This is a good one to use before bed as it aids sleepiness.
- Myrtle is very good for haemorrhoids if you developed these from childbirth. It could potentially help relieve pain and bleeding associated with them.
- Clove is great if you have developed Haemorrhoids after childbirth. Clove is especially good at easing pressure from the fissures associated with haemorrhoids.
Making A Herbal Sitz Bath
Using is another relaxing and soothing option. This tends to be a slightly less strong alternative to using oils.
The best herbs to use in a herbal sitz bath include:
- Lavender flowers– mood relaxer and anti-bacterial
- Chamomile flowers – calming and soothing
- Calendula flowers – anti-inflammatory
- Comfrey leaves – Relieves itching
You can use any combination of these herbs to make your own healing herbal bath.
The best way to incorporate these herbs into your sits bath is by making a herbal tea with them.
In a large bowl or teapot, steep the leaves in boiling water for about 10-15 minutes. Do this before you have run your bath, so it’s ready beforehand. Strain the leaves away so you are just left with the tea and add it to your sitz bath water along with the salt.
Alternatively, you can just add the herbs directly to your sitz bath as you bathe. While this may not be as effective as using a ‘herbal tea’ it certainly feels and looks very relaxing.
Alternatively, you can pop the herbal mixture instead of a muslin bag and pop that in water if you don’t like the idea of bits floating around!
Sitz Bath FAQ’s
If you need any extra guidance on taking your sitz bath, then these FAQs should be useful.
How often should I take a sitz bath?
You can take one as often as you like. However, it’s generally good to take one twice per day for as long as it helps.
How long do I take sitz bath for?
For it to be effective, then you need to sit in it for at least 15-20 minutes, preferably up to half an hour.
Are sitz baths safe after childbirth?
Yes, they are safe, but please check with your medical practitioners such as your doctor or midwife. There are some cases where it may not be appropriate. Even if you think it’s fine, it’s always better to be completely sure.
How soon postpartum can I use a sitz bath?
You should be able to have one as soon as you’re able to go home (or when you feel up to it if you’ve had a home birth). Again, though, make sure you have cleared it with your doctor or midwife before you jump in a sitz bath.
What are the best salts for a postpartum sitz bath?
While you can easily make products with regular salt from your kitchen, there are better options.
Himalayan rock salt, sea salt, general rock salt, and Celtic salt are all suitable products to use in your tub.
Epsom salt is highly recommended to use in your postpartum sitz bath. Epsom salt technically isn’t the same as salt you use on your food. It’s a mineral made from magnesium sulfate.
Magnesium flakes are made from magnesium citrate and are another type of salt that is recommended.
Both are great to use in your postpartum sitz bath as they are known to reduce swelling, promote healing and help the muscles in the area relax. They are also very good at preventing infection.
Will the salt used in my sitz bath sting?
While salt usually sings wounded areas of skin, the concentrations you will be using will not cause stinging. You are only using enough salt to give your bath slight anti-bacterial properties for cleansing.
Is there anything else I can put in my sitz bath to help soothe the area?
Yes, there are other additions to your bath water that can help. Both cider vinegar and witch hazel are great to use for postpartum healing. They are both antibacterial and soothing.
How can I make a quick DIY sitz bath?
If you aren’t able to get lots of ingredients, basic DIY one will work just fine. Using 1-2 tablespoons salt or bicarbonate of soda from your kitchen along with 1-2 tablespoon cider vinegar (optional) will do the trick just fine.
Should I use warm or cold water?
It’s entirely up to you. Cold can feel very nice (like an ice pack) to cool the area down and help to reduce swelling. Warm sitz baths increase blood flow to the area, which will promote and potentially quicken healing.
Should use anything down there after the sitz bath?
Again, this is entirely up to you. Sometimes using coconut oil can be very soothing after and reduce any irritation in the area from rubbing.
What do I do with my baby while I’m taking a sitz bath?
Hopefully, you have someone that can leave your newborn with while you are taking your sitz bath. When you have a newborn baby, it’s a great excuse to have some alone time.
However, this isn’t always possible. A way to get around this is to time it for when your baby is napping.
If you like to have your baby with you or they’re not great nappers, you can always use a sitz bath bowl and have your baby in a bouncer.
Whatever you choose to do, you will find a way to take your soothing sitz bath.
Is there anything else I can do to help?
After using the toilet, clean the area with . You can use a for this. It will help keep everything nice and clean.
The Takeaway Message
There, you have everything you need to know about taking a postpartum sitz bath. If you’re unsure about whether this is something you want to do after you have given birth, it certainly something to consider.
You may find this treatment gives you some much-needed relief as part of your postpartum recovery – especially if you had to have lots of stitches or you have been left with lots of abrasions down there.
However, anyone who goes through natural childbirth will have some level of perineal healing to do, as the whole area gets significantly stretched. Anyone who has just had a baby will find it very soothing, if not healing.
You can find more information on postpartum by reading more in the section on Postpartum Life.