What is a Postpartum Sitz Bath, and How to take one.

Everytime I think about having our little G I am reminded to be amazed at what the human body can do.  But after something so intense I’m also reminded that it is important to take care of such an amazing body.  And one of the greatest ways to do that after childbirth is a postpartum sitz bath.

Lets face it, Mamma’s are awesome, able to push themselves past the limits of what they think they can do just to meet their new little one.  Labour is hard work (for the majority of us), it’s physically, mentally, and emotionaly a rollercoaster ride.  And at the end our bodies have this amazing and inspiring capacity to heal.  

However in our North American fast-paced society women are almost required to hit the ground running as fast as we can.  Even after the life-changing event like birthing a new family member.  No longer are women encouraged to take the 28 to 40 day rest period society used to encourage while others help and care for both Mom and Baby like other cultures in Asia and Europe. 

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I feel like I got lucky in this case.  Not only is my husband from another culture and encouraged me to rest up.  But my support team did as well, even encouraged me to do the extra things I needed to take care of myself, including a postpartum sitz bath.  

I promptly fell in love with this amazing process and now also use one during my monthly cycle when I feel the need to just relax or clean up a bit. 

If you need someone to give you permission to take care of yourself after birthing a kiddo here it is.  YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO TAKE THE MUCH NEEDED REST, TIME, AND ANY OTHER RESOURCE YOU NEED TO HEAL.  Especially after the birth of a baby.


Mrs. B. @ OneWeirdMamma.com

So what is a postpartum sitz bath?

Simply put, a postpartum sitz bath is a warm shallow bath that cleanses the perineum (the space between your bum and vagina).  It provides an at home way to soothe and comfort the area and may speed healing in the process. 

In some cases it can also be used to help with things like hemorrhoids, anal fissures, recovery from an episiotomy and a host of infections in the bladder or vagina.  

That being said, I’ve personally only used them for postpartum recovery and some self care on my cycle.  

Why I love my Sitz Bath

To Speed up healing, Yes it can do this.  It boosts blood flow to the area, which speeds up healing.  Check out this article at WebMD.com for more info.

Take time for yourself.  As a new Mom you are likely very focused on your new baby (its understandable and they are sooooo cute), but it’s true that you can’t pour from an empty cup.  You need some kind of re-charge, taking 20 minutes a couple times a day is a great way to do that. 

You can’t pour from an empty cup so, take care of yourself first.

Aryan Bansal

Take time with Baby.  Yes, I know you are spending a bunch of time with kiddo already.  But when you have more than one kiddo this could be the ideal place to get some one-on-one time with baby while the other kids & your partner keep out.

Relieve pain. After pushing out a 9lbs 1oz baby I was feeling more than a little stretched.  Stuff down there was a mess and I could feel it.  While dissolving worked well, my postpartum sitz bath worked wonders.

Dissolve Stiches.  I never like having stitches anywhere…and most disolving stitches disolve in water.  So if you have stitches and they are causing you problems this is where you want to be to speed up the process.

Treat hemorrhoids.  If you have them you’ll know there is more inflammation and itching going on then most of us are comfortable with.  This will help soothe the problem letting your body heal faster.

To clean up.  This is likely my most favourite reason.  It’s not pretty down there and this lets you clean up Stitches and in comfort.

Related: Postpartum Recovery, How to take care of your Body After Vaginal Delivery

Postpartum healing can be sped up by doing a number of things that encourage a speedy recovery.  A regular postpartum sitz bath is one of them.
Photo by Mitchell Orr on Unsplash

When to use a sitz bath

A sitz bath doesn’t require a doctor’s prescription but you should check with your care provider prior to see if they have any suggestions for additives to the water that might help.  Or things they would caution against in your particular care.

Sometimes your care provider may recomend things that you could put in your sitz bath to help speed your healing or things they would recomend you avoid due to risks while recovering and (if you are) breastfeeding. 

If you notice that your discomfort or pain gets worse during or after a sitz bath stop using them and talk to your care provider.  While a sitz bath carries very little risk to it you are caring for an area on your body that likely has some open wounds (think tearing if nothing else).  And your care provider can assess and advise you on how to proceed. 

How to take an effective Postpartum Sitz Bath at home.

There are 2 main ways that people take sitz baths, in their own tub or using a kit like this.

Personally, I’ve used both, if you have the time for a longer soak the tub is great and more comfortable.  But if you are short on time the kit works well and you don’t have to get completely undressed if you don’t want to.

Step 1: Clean your tub or kit.

Or have someone else clean it for you.  If you use something like diluted bleach make sure it is rinsed VERY well.  

For both the tub and kit I did a mixture of Vinegar, Boiling Water and Tea Tree Oli.  Mix well in a bottle & spray on all surfaces that you or the bath water might come in contact with.  Let sit for a few minutes & rinse off.

Note: if you are using a kit you will want to place it on the toilet and test it to make sure that it doesn’t slip around. 

A postpartum sitz bath can be a relaxing way to take care of your self after having a baby, here are 7 simple steps & my personal recipe that I used after having our little boy.
Photo by Hanna Postova on Unsplash

Step 2: Use just enough water to cover your lady parts

Now if you think about it, internally the space that the placenta ripped away from is one big wound. Alongside that, there is a tone of other stuff going on in there.  So getting a bunch of – possibly not clean – water all up in your business would be a bad idea.

If you are using some added bits from the next step, I recommend using the hotest water possible while filling then let it cool as everything steeps.  

The water temperature you are looking for when you are in it is warm enough to stay comfortable for 15 – 20 minutes but not HOT.

Note: if you are using a kit you can add more warm water using the bag.  Most kits have an “overflow” holes that will prevent you from over filling the basin by letting the water run into the toilet.

Step 3: The added bits for comfort & speedy healing. (the optional step)

There are a tone of ideas out there about what you can put in your sitz bath all with various ideas on how helpful they are for healing & comfort.  With something in this sensitive area I like to be cautious but I did add a few things to the water for myself.

The Midwives Collective of Toronto claims Epsom Salts will reduce swelling, discourage infection and encourage healing.  I personally bought some in bulk like this and used it as a base for what I was adding to the tub.

My “recipe” is as follows:  (Note: mix all dry ingredients together & all liquid together then combine when adding to the bath)

Please make sure that you use alcohol-free versions on anything that will come in contact with sensitive areas.

I also use this mix in my monthly routine.  At any time you can find one container in the bathroom by the tub contains all the dry stuff.  And once a month a peri-bottle (grab one here) beside it with all the liquid.  (Another good reason to have extra on hand)

When you are ready for your sitz bath, just add 1/2 a cup of your dry mix & half the bottle from your well-shaken peri-bottle, let it steep for a couple minutes (the tea will color the water yellow so mix it a bit to get everything in all the water)

how to take a postpartum sitz bath for more comfort and faster healing after childbirth.
Photo by Heather Schwartz on Unsplash

Step 4: Strip from the waist down

You want to keep your upper body warm, and the water isn’t going to go that deep (about 3 inches) so keep your shirt on or crank the heat in the house to keep you comfortable. 

You’ll see it recomended all over the place (online, care providers etc) that you don’t want to get into a full tub right after childbirth.  If there is enough water the force of you sitting down in it could push the water up inside… 

Step 5: Enjoy

This is the part of I love the most, especially in the tub.  Sit back, relax and let go of some of the tension.  Prop your neck up with a bath pillow and set a timer for 15-20 minutes and chill out.  

For me this was the time that I spent letting my mind wander and letting go of the mental load being a new Mom created in me.  Sometimes I read on my phone, and on occasion when I had to do this & have baby near by, I put him in the basinet that came with this  pack-n-play in the bathroom with me.

Childbirth is exhausting, take care of yourself after with these simple steps and a soothing recipe for a postpartum sitz bath that can help speed your healing.
Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

Step 6: Stand up / Get out

When you are done, stand up and pat the area dry with a clean towel.  I used a bunch that I picked up from the local dollar store that were “fuz free” and would highly recomend you get cotton ones if possible to prevent fuzz getting stuck to you.

Avoid rubbing or scrubbing the area as this can cause other issues.

Also, if you happen to pee in it before getting out it may make peeing a bit easier and no one will know the difference. 😉 

Step 7: Get things ready for the next one.

Just clean it again thoughouly, if you got a kit it may well contain cleaning and storage instructions follow those, or use the same stuff as you did in the prep of the sitz bath.  

It’s not difficult to do, and I know I loved it, and many of us need that extra self care time.  You are worth it, and you and your family will thank you later that you took the time needed for yourself. 

Step 8: Repeat

I say repeat as necessary, for some that is 2 – 3 times a day for others it may be once.  I’d rather see you start out with 3 times a day and scale back as needed.  

Having a baby is an exciting and momentus time in a woman's life.  Help yourself be more comfortable after and enjoy your recovery more with a postpartum sitz bath!
Photo by Lubomirkin on Unsplash

What else can you do to help your body heal postpartum?

Yes, there are many things you can do besides taking a postpartum bath for faster healing and more comfort.

Here is a list of THIRTEEN things you can do to help your Postpartum Recovery After a Vaginal Birth

Looking ahead but not yet given birth?  Check out the Hands-Down Best Labor Advice I Ever Found for the 7 best tips I used to prepare for our first labor.