A sitz bath or hip bath is a way to keep the peri-anal area clean and minimize itching. It also helps provide relief from local discomfort, which can be associated with hemorrhoids, anal fissures, fecal impaction or pruritus ani (itching around the anus and after childbirth.
Now that your gorgeous baby is finally here what you need is a Sitz bath.
After 5 vaginal deliveries this is by far the one thing that has contributed the most to my postpartum recovery.
I religiously take a Sitz bath between two and three times a day for the first 7 days.
The reason I am writing this post is because it truly is one of the best things to help heal the absolute mess that had become of my downstairs area.
After a ventouse delivery I was in absolute agony, my husband had to return to work literally a day after the baby was born and I really needed to get on and heal fast.
I searched online but there didn’t seem to be much guidance on how I could speed up healing down there.
My neighbor suggested that I get in the water to help the recovery process as that is exactly what she had done after having her 6 babies.
I searched the internet after my first baby was born and found hardly any information at all.
I decided to speak to my doctor while I was at the hospital on what my plans were.
He raised his eyebrow and told me that he hadn’t heard of it but said it was OK for me to go ahead and try although he advised against sitting in hot water.
Once I had the all clear from my doctor, even though he didn’t feel it would make any difference whatsoever, I decided to give it a go.
I had to try something as I was in agony and had stitches what felt like everywhere, painful and throbbing I needed something that would give me some relief.
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What is a Sitz Bath?
A Sitz bath is a shallow bath that is used to clean the perineum. It can also be used to provide relief from itching and pain down below.
They can be used to relieve pain caused by hemorrhoids, painful bowel movements and even stinging caused by passing urine.
Sitz baths can be taken using a small bath placed over your toilet, the small basin fits securely over the toilet bowl.
It is a good alternative for those that don’t have a bathtub, or for the fact that some people may find it easier. You can also use a bidet.
After the birth of my third child, I was lucky to have one of these in my home.
My husband and I never knew what it was supposed to be used for but after some research it turns out that the first bidet toilet seat was created as a medical device called the ‘American Sitz Bath’.
Generally, I found the bathtub the easiest, it was easy to clean and I could get the temperature exactly how I wanted it.
How can a Sitz bath help healing postpartum
After a vaginal delivery you may find that a lot has happened downstairs.
You may have had an episiotomy, have torn during labor, have a swollen labia, have had stitches or you may just feel incredibly sore after childbirth.
An episiotomy is a cut made to the opening of the vagina to aid a birth which will need assistance.
My first child was born via ventouse and I had an Episiotomy.
A Sitz bath soon became vital in my healing.
Due to the episiotomy, I needed stitches they were not only uncomfortable but hugely itchy, this is where the Sitz bath really helped.
It gave me a few hours of relief from the horrible throbbing and itching.
With my second child I had stitches due to tearing and again the sitz bath was an amazing aid in my recovery.
Why you should take a Sitz bath
To relieve Pain
Whether you have had a delivery with or without a tear or stitches you may still have pain down there after giving birth.
My first birth was a ventouse delivery, my second birth ended with a large tear needing stitches and with my third I tore but they didn’t stitch me.
However, the doctor did comment that I should have been stitched and I was in excruciating pain.
My fourth and fifth children were large babies so I was extremely sore.
The Sitz bath really helped provide me with comfort for about 2 hours after I had one and always had at least three in the first 7-10 days postpartum.
To help dissolve stitches
I think the sitz bath really helped speed up the rate in which my stitches dissolved that the doctor was actually shocked.
The doctor even commented that the stitches healed very quickly and nicely.
To relive the pain caused by hemorrhoids
This is a big one for me.
The Sitz bath gave me huge relief from the pain associated with haemorrhoids.
I had a sitz bath after every bowel movement to help relieve the pain. I also used this gel and it was amazing.
To have some me time
After baby number 5 this was absolute bliss.
Just being able to get away for 15 mins a few times a day was exactly what I needed, although sometimes the kids would all be waiting outside the bathroom door for me to reappear!
To clean up down there
A sitz bath is also a great way of keeping your lady bits clean
If you do however find that you are itchier or that your lochia becomes smellier then usual then please contact your doctor.
A little tip for peeing post baby
Some women find it easier to pee in the Sitz bath but I found a way of peeing without it stinging
I always use a jug of warm water and pour it over myself slowly as I pass urine.
I do this every time I go for a wee and I even use the trick when I poop postpartum
How to take a Sitz bath
1. Clean the bath.
2.Make sure that the bath or small Sitz bath is clean and has no residue of bathroom cleaner or bleach on it.
3.Wear clothes on the top half of your body. I always take a hot water bottle as I get very cold.
You will be sitting in the bath for approximately 15-20 minutes so it’s a good idea to keep a little warm.
4.Use literally just enough water to submerge your lady bits about 3 inches
5.As you sit in the bath bend your knees and allow your legs to sit either side of the bathtub.
6.You can add Epsom bath salts and Lavender Essential Oil for extra healing but if you have had stitches then check with your doctor first.
7.Pat yourself dry with a small face towel, do not rub the area.
8.Clean the bath thoroughly
How to take a Sitz bath using a basin kit
Wash the basin making sure no cleaning product residue is left
Place the basin in the toilet and make sure its firmly in place
If advised by your doctor add Epsom bath salts or essential oils
Sit for 15-20
Pat the area dry making sure not to rub
If you have a Bidet follow the instructions above on how to take a Sitz Bath.
Sitz baths have become very common now and recovering moms have used a number of ingredients to try and speed up recovery these include;
Epsom Bath Salts
Himalayan Pink Salt
Before adding anything please check with your doctor but for me personally Lavender Essential oil helped the most along with Tea Tree oil and Epsom Bath Salts.
I am very particular about the oils being of a therapeutic grade so I use this one.
Risks associated with Sitz Baths
Try to avoid adding anything to the Sitz bath like shower gels, soaps or fragranced oils.
Make sure that the water is cold or lukewarm and don’t sit in hot water.
Try not to submerge yourself too much in the bath, it should literally just cover your perineum
Wait 24hrs before you go ahead and take a Sitz bath and confirm its ok with your doctor.
Ensure that the tub or basin is cleaned before and after use
If you are in pain after taking a Sitz bath go and see your doctor
If a sitz bath isn’t for you, using a Padsicle may be a better option for you
Research has shown that using a cold Sitz bath rather than a warm one provided more pain relief in the hour after the bath was taken.
Cold water tends to help more with swelling.
I tried this and just could not bear the cold down there. I preferred the water to be at least lukewarm.
Try both and see which one works for you as you may be able to tolerate the cold much more then I possibly could.
After 5 vaginal births and suffering from hemorrhoids a Sitz bath has been instrumental in my recovery.
I have used this when I’ve had stitches, torn and even when I have had painful deliveries with large babies.
The addition of lavender, Tea Tree and Epsom salts had really aided speeding up the healing process.
Lavender is known to assist healing and helps to reduce pain you will also smell nice!
Tea Tree oil is both anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, it also helps calm redness, swelling and inflammation.
Epsom bath salts break down into magnesium and sulphate when added to water and they are an excellent way to relax.
As long as your doctor has cleared you, this really is an excellent resource to have in your recovery toolkit!