When it comes to all the things we apply to our most private parts, salt isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind.
But pop some in a shallow, warm bath before lowering yourself down, and you may be sighing with relief.
Sitz is the german word for 'seat' and taking a sitz bath means sitting in a warm soothing solution, which aims to provide care for the genital and anal area.
In the name of self-care and soothing, soaking one’s genitals and perineal area in a sitz bath may just be what the doctor ordered (literally). And for new mothers, it's no different.
What is a sitz bath?
Unlike a regular bath, where your whole body is submerged in water, a sitz bath is a more targeted form of aqua therapy where only a part of your body is soaked.
The area in focus is generally the rectal area, including the anus, genitals and perineum (the space between the rectum and vulva/scrotum) in the aim of soothing pain, itching or any other undesired symptoms and providing relief.
Sitz baths are used particularly during pregnancy or after childbirth to soothe and calm the genital and anal area. They also are used to increase blood flow and promote faster healing in the postpartum period.
When should you use a sitz bath?
Sitz baths can boost blood flow, soothe symptoms such as itching, discomfort, irritation, minor pain and swelling to the genital and rectum area, and accelerate the healing process postpartum.
They can offer relief for pain and inflammation, and can be used as a treatment for:
· Anal fissures
· Pain, discomfort, and itching postpartum
· Betterment of health
What are the benefits of a sitz bath?
Sitz baths provide the sweet relief new mums may be looking for as they recover from birth. But they're handy for more than one reason.
Cleansing the genital area
As the area may be sensitive post-birth, a sitz bath is a gentle way to clean this zone without applying any pressure, such as by using toilet paper.
Cleaning the region is incredibly important, as it will help the healing process and decrease the risk of further irritation or infection.
Helps to soothe
In postpartum, the perineum, rectum and vulva may be sore, swollen and sensitive.
In fact, 80-90% of new mums will experience tearing during birth, and whether or not a tear happens, it's normal to experience soreness, tenderness and swelling for a few weeks or months.
Sitz baths can help soothe that pain and tender skin.
Haemorrhoids are extremely common during pregnancy and postpartum. In fact, around 43% will experience them.
Sitz baths can help alleviate symptoms associated with haemorrhoids, such as swelling, pain, discomfort and itchiness, by relieving pain and soothing the area.
What should you put in a sitz bath?
Although you can have a sitz bath with just warm water, some additions can help to soothe pain or itchiness and create a more calming effect. Most commonly, Epsom salts are used, which can promote healing.
Our Sitz Salts have been approved by Aussie OBGYNS, and is made up of a super simple solution of natural ingredients specifically designed to relieve pregnancy aches itchy stretched skin, haemorrhoids and/or a torn perineum. (It's vegan, cruelty-free and paraben-free, too!)
While it may be tempting to add nice-smelling shower gel or a bubble bath, this is not often recommended as fragranced solutions can irritate the genital area and shift the body's pH balance - leading to yeast infections.
How to use a sitz bath - A step-by-step guide
Importantly, when using a sitz bath, you want to make sure the bath is a warm, comfortable temperature that soothes the genital areas and acts as a wash and treatment.
Since you'll be sitting in your sitz bath for around 20 minutes, we recommend taking a little time to set up the space.
If you're sharing a bathroom with others in your household, make sure you'll be uninterrupted and have the space to yourself.
You might also like to light some candles, burn some essential oils, play some calming music, or bring in a cup of tea to help set the tone for relaxation.
How to create a sitz bath in a bathtub
1. Make sure the bathtub is clean and scrubbed thoroughly. Washing your tub with gentle soap and hot water should kill any germs and remove dust, dirt and debris.
2. Fill the tub with around 10cm of warm water, making sure it’s not too hot as you don’t want to further irritate or burn the skin. You can test the water temperature with your fingers first to ensure it's nice and comfortable.
3. Next, add dissolving sitz salts into the shallow bath in accordance to the instructions on the label. You'll want salts with a concentrated blend of Epsom salt, dead sea salt, Witch Hazel and essential oils. This will help to soothe any soreness and tenderness of the area and promote postpartum recovery.
4. Lower yourself into the water and soak for around 15 to 20 minutes. If it’s comfortable, bend your knees and try and keep as much of your limbs out of the solution.
5. Get out of the tub and pat yourself dry with a clean towel. Then, drain and rinse the tub.
How to create a sitz bath using a kit or shallow basin
1. First, you’ll need to acquire a kit. Kin's Sitz Tub kit comes with a plastic basin that fits around a standard toilet seat.
2. Place the plastic basin into the open toilet seat and make sure it’s secure.
3. Pour warm water into the basin – making sure it’s not too hot – and add in your salts according to the instructions of your sitz salts label.
4. Sit and soak for 15-20 minutes.
5. Stand up to hop out of the warm water and pat yourself dry with a towel.
6. Clean the basin after use with some soap and warm water.
Sitz bath aftercare
After your soak, gently pat the area that was emerged with a clean cotton towel. Any rubbing or hard pressure can cause irritation or harm to the skin.
Although sitz baths are non-invasive and have a low risk involved, if you do notice any increased tenderness, redness or pain after the bath, discontinue use and see your doctor to provide medical advice.
Similarly, if you’re concerned for any reason following the bath or home remedies, your doctor is always a good bet.