One of the biggest bummers (no pun intended) about postpartum recovery is the discomfort you experience down there after delivering your baby.
Stitches, bruising, stretching and all round aching down there are a real pain in the butt (ha, I did it again) when all you want to do is sit, relax and get to grips with parentings.
If you have experienced a tear or episiotomy in labour then a postpartum sitz bath could ease your discomfort, and help you heal faster.
The great thing about a sitz bath is that there are lots of different ways to use one, so you can just make it convenient for you.
It can be a brilliant relief for pain and helps to keep wounds clean, which can help to prevent infection.
It’s not just for new mamas who experienced a tear or cut when giving birth to their baby! It can also be beneficial to new mums who are feeling sore and swollen down there.
This post contains affiliate links.
What is a sitz bath
Sitz bath comes from the German word meaning “to sit”.
It involves sitting in a shallow bath, or water in a bowl, for just your bottom and vagina. There are various different elements you can add to the water, such as epsom salts.
But it’s worth taking note that there are no studies to suggest the use of added ingredients like witch hazel can speed up healing. This type of aromatherapy oils can however offer physical relief to discomfort. Plus the scent can help you to relax too.
If you want to use just plain warm water, this is absolutely fine for your sitz bath and will still help with soothing the area, and keeping it clean.
The water is kept warm, not hot.
A sitz bath can be done in your bathtub or in a special sitz bowl you can place over your toilet, so you sit in it and soak.
Benefits of a sitz bath
You’ll be amazed at how soothing a simple sitz bath can be for your bits after giving birth!
A sitz bath can increase the blood flow to your perineal area, which helps your body to heal and can reduce swelling of the area. It can also relieve itching you may be having around your stitches.
Using a sitz bath can relieve the soreness that you experienced when giving birth, and relieve any discomfort you experience after using the toilet.
If you have haemorrhoids after giving birth, which are pretty common but also extremely uncomfortable, they can also help to ease any discomfort in this area. Try adding witch hazel to the sitz bath to help your haemorrhoids.
Tips for using a sitz bath
Keep the temperature warm
You don’t want your sitz bath to be hot. Warm water of around 37C will be more comfortable for you, but you may find a colder temperature will improve pain relief for you.
It all depends on what you find to be most relaxing. While cold water may help to dull pain, warm water will increase blood flow to the area and speed up healing. You could try to alternate the two different temperatures throughout the day, so that you get the benefits of both.
What to add to your sitz bath
You can add various different elements to your sitz bath, and there are some sold specifically for the purpose.
But you can actually just raid your own cupboard to find the ingredients for your sitz bath!
Elements to add to your sitz bath include:
- Baking soda. For your bathtub half a cup of baking soda to the water, which should be around 5ins deep in order to cover your thighs.
- Epsom salt. Add one teaspoon of salt to a plastic sitz bath or a quarter cup of salt to your normal bath with 5ins of water.
- Witch hazel. Add 2oz of witch hazel to your bath tub.
- Lavender oil. Try adding eight drops of the oil to your bath.
- Chamomile oil. Add eight drops to your bath tub.
- Olive oil. Add a couple of tablespoons to your bath.
- Sitz bath herbs. You can buy ready-mixed and ready-to-use herbs to add to your warm water. The packs contain instructions for how much to use in your bath.
You could try combining your favourite essential oils above to create a bath with a mixture of scents and soothing elements.
Try it frequently every day
You can use the sitz bath as often as you would like for five to 10 minutes a time.
Some people try to use the sitz bath after using the toilet, in order to soothe the area, especially after a bowel movement if that is uncomfortable.
Remember to pat dry the area, or let it air dry, when you are done. Rubbing the area can cause you discomfort.
Keep your bath clean and rinsed
Clean the bathtub or the sitz bath container you use after every single use. Use a disinfectant spray and give it a good swirl around then wipe before rinsing thoroughly.
You want to make sure there is no more residue of the disinfectant left in the bath.
Try a peri-bottle
Did you know there is a shower equivalent of a sitz bath? It’s called a peri-bottle!
The peri bottle is used to squirt water onto the perineum area, typically during and after using the toilet but any time when there is discomfort in this area.
By squirting water on the area as you wee, you are diluting the urine which reduces the risk of you experiencing stinging in the area.
A purpose-made peri bottle will have an angle head that makes it easy to take aim and direct the water at the area. You simply top it up with warm water, and remember to keep it clean.
It’s especially fab if you have had a particularly deep tear or cut, and are advised not to wipe the area after using the bathroom. You just use the peri-bottle to rinse the area thoroughly then allow it to air dry after using the bathroom.
How to entertain your baby
So where’s your newborn during all of this sitz bath business? You can bring them into the bathroom with you and pop them into their car seat (if you have one that you usually bring into the house after use), Moses basket, or bouncy chair.
In the first two weeks after giving birth, which is when you will most likely be using the sitz bath, hopefully you will have a little help from your other half. So you will be able to find the time to take a break from your baby for at least a short while a few times a day.
Remember that looking after you is important, because in order to care for your baby, you need to be well. Take time to do this in order to keep yourself comfortable and you will be a happier mama!
If you would like more top tips for healing fast after giving birth, check out my post full of tips on postpartum healing.