Having a bath is a quintessential form of self-care for many women, so it's natural that you'd want to have a relaxing soak in the tub as a new mum.
Your body is likely to be sore from your epic labour efforts, you're probably sleep-deprived and mentally you're doing your best to adjust to life with a newborn. A warm bath sounds like bliss.
But while you've been taking in rafts of information about newborns and postpartum care, one question might have been overlooked.
How long after birth can I have a bath?
There's also more to postpartum bathing than your regular tub bath — get ready to become best friends with Kin's Sitz Bath.
Can I have a bath after giving birth?
The answer varies based on whether you had a vaginal delivery or a caesarean section (commonly known as a C-section).
If your baby was delivered vaginally, you should be able to have a bath in the days after giving birth (best to check with your doctor first) — much sooner than if you've had a C-section.
If you have stitches after tearing your perineum, don't fret, it's fine to have a bath.
In fact, it's recommended to bathe your stitches every day to help prevent infection. This can be done in the bathtub, or more frequently using a sitz tub.
Unlike a full bath where you typically submerge and wash your whole body, a sitz bath is when you place a small tub on the rim of your toilet and sit on it to soak your perineum in a few centimetres of water.
How soon after giving birth can I have a bath?
You might be pleased to know that after having a vaginal birth, you can have a tub bath whenever you feel ready within the first week of postpartum recovery — as long as your doctor has given you the go-ahead.
However, one thing to be aware of is that it's not recommended to have a bath immediately after giving birth.
Having a hot bath one hour after welcoming your baby into the world can dilate the blood vessels in your uterus, potentially leading to increased bleeding, dizziness and fainting.
To take care of postpartum perineal pain after vaginal delivery, you can start taking a sitz bath 12 hours after giving birth.
For those who've had a C-section, some patience is required.
You'll have to wait until your incision has healed and your doctor tells you it's okay, before taking your first bath post-birth. Generally speaking, this can take around three weeks.
Taking a bath after a vaginal birth
A lot happens to the genital area after vaginal birth. The incredible strength of your pushing may result in a torn perineum from your baby's head squeezing through.
This often requires stitches.
Some women may even require an episiotomy, which is when a midwife or doctor cuts the perineum to assist with the birth.
This cut is stitched together. As scars start to heal, the skin of your perineal area can also feel quite itchy.
It's also common to experience haemorrhoids after pushing. These are when the veins in your rectum become swollen and sore. Yep, it's a lot to deal with.
There are a couple of treatments that can help provide relief.
Along with the use of ice packs and pain medication, bathing can be a soothing experience for new mothers as it provides additional pain relief and helps you relax.
If you have stitches, regular bathing is also important for ensuring your genital area is properly cleaned.
Other things that can help with your body's healing process include drinking two to three litres of water and eating a balanced diet to make bowel movements easier, and doing pelvic floor exercises as advised by your physio to increase the blood flow in this area.
Taking a bath after a C-section
While it's important to keep your incision site clean to prevent infection, you should avoid taking a bath or using a sitz bath until it's healed.
Having a shower and simply letting the water and mild soap run over the incision area is enough to keep it clean.
Don't scrub it in the shower and when drying off, don't rub the incision. Instead, gently pat dry with a clean towel.
You'll be able to take a bath after your caesarean section once your doctor gives you the green light.
Even after a C-section delivery, you're likely to experience some of the same aches and pains as a vaginal birth.
Your vagina may feel sore and uncomfortable from labour.
You may also have haemorrhoids from the pressure of your growing baby during pregnancy. Soaking these body parts in a sitz bath can provide relief.
Safe ways to take a post-birth bath
You might not feel 100 per cent ready to take a regular bath and that's okay.
One of the safest ways of taking a bath postpartum is by using a sitz bath — Kin's Sitz Bath has been designed to relieve tender and sensitive skin during pregnancy and postpartum. The Sitz Salts contain anti-inflammatory Epsom Salts that relieve constipation, shrink haemorrhoids, reduce perineal swelling and nip itchiness in the bud.
These handy dandy small tubs that fit in your toilet bowl are a great alternative for creating a mini spa moment while also comfortably and safely taking care of yourself.
Warm sitz baths gently clean your sensitive areas without the need for scrubbing and further aggravating the area.
Their convenient size also means they are easy to thoroughly clean, reducing the risk of infection.
C-section mums, even when they've been told by their doctor that their incision site has healed, may still find it challenging to get up and down for tub baths in the first six weeks of giving birth.
A sitz bath is a more easily accessible and ergonomic option for relieving postpartum discomfort around your vagina.
When bathing, if you notice some changes such as increased pain, unusual smells, red swelling, pus or liquid, seek advice from your doctor or midwife.
What are the benefits of postpartum sitting baths?
The great thing about sitz baths is that not only do they have physiological benefits to help your body recover, but they're practical for your day-to-day life as a mum.
Studies show that soaking the perineum in the warm water of a sitz bath promotes effective wound healing due to increased blood circulation and reduced inflammation.
Epsom salts shrink haemorrhoids, reduce perineal swelling and soothe itchiness.
Coconut oil and almond oil moisturise the skin, while witch hazel and lavender oil have antibacterial properties that help prevent infection.
Lavender oil is also well-known for its calming effects, which is always handy when dealing with a crying baby or trying to get quality sleep.
Sitz baths are quicker to fill, use less water and don't require getting your whole body wet. Our Kin Sitz Baths are also compact and collapsible for discreet storage.
How to use a sitz bath after birth
For any new mamas who haven't used a sitz bath before, here's how you do it. You'll need a Sitz Tub, Sitz Salts and an uninterrupted chunk of time in the bathroom.
- You'll be sitting in the bathroom for a while, so take a few minutes to create a relaxing atmosphere. Pick a playlist, light a candle, grab a book or anything else you need to set the mood.
- Place the Sitz Tub on the rim of your toilet. Make sure it's secure and not moving around.
- Fill the tub with about 10cm of warm water.
- Test the temperature of the water with your wrist. We advise using your wrist because this is where your skin is the thinnest and most sensitive. You want the water to feel nice and comfortable, not so hot that it burns or causes more pain.
- Mix 100g of Sitz Salt into the water for extra pain relief and relaxing aromatherapy.
- Sit down and fully submerge your perineum in the water. Chill here for 15-20 minutes while you breathe in the calming scents and enjoy whatever you've brought into the bathroom for entertainment.
- When you're ready, slowly get up and dry yourself. If you can, it's best to let yourself air dry. But if you can't, gently pat yourself with a towel, being careful not to rub the perineum.
- Clean the tub and store it away for next time.
Then you're done! Enjoy your postpartum bath, whether that's in a bathtub or Sitz Tub. Relax into a moment of self-care and let the warm water and Sitz Salts work their healing powers.