- What is a sitz bath?
- When is sitz bath useful?
- What are the benefits of a sitz bath?
- How to take a sitz bath in the bathtub?
- How to take a sitz bath using a kit?
- What ingredients are necessary for a sitz bath?
- Precautions to take while taking a sitz bath after delivery
- Postpartum herbal sitz bath recipe
After childbirth, the perineum becomes sore and painful as it goes through a lot of trauma during the birthing process. Some women may even get stitches in the area, which adds to the discomfort. If you have had a vaginal delivery, a sitz bath is a traditional way to get relief from the post-childbirth pain.
What Is A Sitz Bath?
It is a therapeutic, warm water bath generally used for healing or cleaning of the genitals or the pelvic area. It cleanses the perineum, which is the region between the rectum and the vulva (females) or scrotum (males). The word ‘sitz’ originates from the German word ‘sitzen’, which means sit (1). Most hospitals and maternity units encourage sitz baths a few times a day as these are usually just warm water and salt.
When Is Sitz Bath Used?
Sitz bath can be used for the following reasons.
- Personal hygiene
- Post delivery (in case of a vaginal one)
- Genital infections
- Hemorrhoid pain
- Any surgery in the perineal area
- Itching or irritation in the perineum
[ Read: Bath After A C-Section ]
What Are The Benefits Of A Sitz Bath?
Sitz baths have been in use for a long time, owing to their healing properties. Pregnant women can try the sitz bath at home during and post pregnancy to enjoy its benefits.
- Warm water helps increase the blood flow to the genital area. It promotes healing of any inflammation or swelling in the specific area.
- Its soothing properties help relieve pain and itching.
- Helps in relieving the discomfort of hemorrhoids.
- It helps to dissolve the stitches of the perineum after natural childbirth.
- Hastens the healing process of the perineum post childbirth.
- It is useful for cleansing the perineum to prevent any infection.
- Helps relieve the discomfort of constipation.
- Promotes relaxation of the sore muscles in the pelvic region.
The benefits of adding Epsom salt to sitz bath include:
- Its anti-inflammatory properties help in reducing the swelling.
- It contains magnesium that prevents cramping. Magnesium also releases serotonin that helps you relax by minimizing the effects of the stress hormones.
Soothes the itchy skin.
How To Take A Sitz Bath In The Bath Tub?
Here the steps to follow for a sitz bath in the bathtub:
- Use a scrub to clean the tub with water and bleach, and rinse it thoroughly.
- Fill about two to three inches of the tub with warm water. Test the temperature of the water by placing a drop on your wrist before you sit in the tub. It should be tolerable, i.e., 37° to 39° C, or 99° to 102° F (2).
- The water must be enough to soak your perineum when you sit in the bathtub. As you sit, bend your knees and keep your legs on the sides of the tub.
- Add ½ cup (125ml) of baking soda or ¼ cup (75ml) of salt to the water and swirl properly to dissolve them. Otherwise, add herbs or medicines as prescribed by the doctor.
- Sit for 15-20 minutes and get out of the tub.
- Use a clean towel to pat dry your bottom. Do not rub the perineum as it can cause irritation and pain.
- After the bath, clean the tub thoroughly.
- If the baths are not possible due to cultural, religious or practical reasons (due to water restriction), you may make the above mixture in a jug and pour it over the area often, patting dry with a clean towel.
How To Take A Sitz Bath Using A Kit?
A sitz bath kit comes with a basin that easily fits over the toilet seat. Fill it with warm water and add a medicine or solution as prescribed by the doctor. Using a sitz bath kit is easier than using a bathtub during the postpartum period.
- Place the basin carefully on the toilet seat, such that it stays in place firmly.
- Use the manual that you get with the kit and follow the instructions.
- Add warm water to the tub. The kit comes with a plastic bag into which you can add warm water. This water can be used to fill the basin when the existing water cools down. A vent in the sitz bath prevents the water from overflowing.
- Fill enough water to cover your perineum.
- Add ½ to 1 tablespoon (5 to 15mL) of baking soda or 1 to 2 teaspoons (5 to 10mL) of salt to water and swirl properly to dissolve it.
- Sit for 15-20 minutes and get up carefully after you finish.
- Use a clean towel to pat dry your bottom.
- After use, wash the basin with a disinfectant that comes with the kit.
Ingredients Necessary For A Sitz Bath
Different ingredients can be added to a sitz bath. In most cases it is just salts (epsom and table salt). Some women may also add ingredients aloe vera, Himalayan salt, red raspberry leaf, coconut oil, etc. Consult your doctor or the herbalist before using an essential oil, to check if its safe for you.
Precautions To Take While Taking A Sitz Bath After Delivery
Here are some precautions that you must take before taking sitz bath post delivery.
- Avoid adding shower gels or soaps to the water, especially if they are scented.
- Water should not be too hot. Lukewarm water is ideal. Test the water temperature before getting into the tub.
- Thoroughly cleanse your foot before you get into the tub.
- If you had a natural delivery, then wait for at least 24 hours before trying the sitz bath. You can take two to three sitz baths every day or as advised by your doctor (1).
- Ensure that the tub is thoroughly cleaned to reduce any chances of infection, in the case of surgical wounds in the perineum.
- Ask your doctor about the dosage of medicines or herbs that you may use for the sitz bath.
- If there is any persistent pain or irritation in the perineum after using the sitz bath, then consult the doctor.
- Clean the sitz bath basin or bathtub thoroughly before and after the use.
Postpartum Herbal Sitz Bath Recipe
Here is a sitz bath herbal recipe that you can try:
What you need – Cotton muslin bags
- Unrefined sea salt – 9oz or 1 cup
- Plantain leaf – 2oz
- Lavender blossoms – 2oz
- Witch hazel – 2oz
- Yarrow – 2oz
- Chamomile – 2oz
- Calendula – 2oz
How to prepare:
- Mix all the ingredients.
- Fill the muslin bags with the mixture.
- Fill the tub with hot water.
- Put one muslin bag into the tub and allow the contents to dissolve.
- When the temperature of the water comes down to a tolerable level, enjoy the relaxing bath.
Note: If you have stitches, then limit to one sitz bath a day. Otherwise, you can try it multiple times a day, depending on your comfort level.
[ Read: What Is Episiotomy ]
As you do not require any prescription from the doctor for a sitz bath, you can try it as soon as you are back home after delivery. You may even ask for it in the hospitals. A sitz bath is a great way to overcome the discomfort of the perineum without any side-effects.
Did you try the sitz bath after your delivery? Share your experience in the comment section below.
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