It’s a fact. After birth, you will be sore, you’ll be swollen and if you tore (or were cut), you’ll have pain in your perineum, plus any muscle in that area will also be sensitive. Your vagina, having gone through the act of pushing out a small human being, will need a lot of tender loving care. Here are ways to care for yourself during postpartum.
Sitz baths can feel soooo good on a sore perineum. What is a sitz bath? Well it’s a little bath for your bottom! You can simply fill the tub with just enough water for you to sit and have your bottom covered. Or you can order a sitz bath bowl (I ordered mine here ~ you only need the bowl part…you can put away the tubing that comes with it).
I recommend doing a sitz bath a few times a day, for example morning, middle of the day and at bedtime. Fit more times if you are able to, but aim for three times a day.
A warm sitz bath is good if you are sore but not swollen. And a cold sitz bath works wonders if you are still swollen as it will help reduce the inflammation. You don’t want to do a warm sitz bath while still swollen as it draws more blood to that area and can keep you swollen longer.
For a cold water sitz bath, keep some water in the refrigerator that you’ll use for your sitz bath or if you make an herbal infusion, keep it cool in the refrigerator. If it’s too cold for you to use, just add a little warm water to make it less cold, but be sure that it’s still cool and you don’t turn it into a warm sitz bath by mistake.
For a warm sitz bath, I like using an herbal infusion (though you can also use an herbal infusion for a cold sitz bath) and letting it infuse for hours and then using that warm infusion for the sitz bath. You can reuse the infusion over again by just reheating it slightly before using it again. Or if it’s easier for you, just keep it at room temperature and reuse it at room temperature. You are getting all the benefits of the herbs even when doing the sitz bath at room temperature.
When doing a sitz bath, take a book, a magazine, your smart phone or whatever will help you sit there for 5- 15 minutes.
Herbal Sitz Bath
All of the herbs (all the herbs can be found here) I use in the herbal sitz bath are healing for postpartum perineum care. Together they reduce swelling, help to heal tears or cuts, help to rebuild the sore and wounded tissues and also will help prevent infections.
1 part Comfrey root
1 part Yarrow
2 part Calendula flowers
1 part Echinacea root
Simply add all your herbs in a pot and add boiled water to the pot ~ enough water to fully cover your herbs. Stir and cover the pot (don’t let your herb goodness evaporate into air). Let the herbs infuse for at least 4 hours. Then strain the herbs and use the liquid (aka your infusion) for your sitz bath. For a cold sitz bath, once you strain your herbs, place the infusion in the refrigerator for a couple of hours and then use in your sitz bath.
Essential Oils Sitz Bath
Make this aromatherapy sitz bath for your cool sitz bath.
The essential oils used are soothing, healing, reduce swelling, help heal cuts and tears, reduce itching and help in prevent infections.
Fill your sitz bath bowl or your bath tub with just enough water to cover your bottom. If you’re using the sitz bath bowl, add 1 drop each of German Chamomile and of Lavender essential oils.If you’re using your bath tub, use 2 drops of each essential oil. Also add your salt to the mix (bowl or tub). Once you add your oils and salt, swish the water really well with a large spoon or your hand to fully mix the oils into the water.
*German chamomile is not the same as Roman chamomile. It smells differently, looks differently and while does some of the same as Roman Chamomile it is unique in that German Chamomile reduces inflammation. It works really well for wounds and cuts and so I recommend specifically using German chamomile.
Witch Hazel Pads
Oh the mama pads…love these. First, forget the normal size pads. Instead get the large overnight pads. You can also do these with reusable mama pads. Saturate them in witch hazel and stick them in the freezer. I’ve seen other blog posts that say to wrap them in aluminum foil. Save yourself the time ~ they work just fine by just putting them in the freezer right after you add the witch hazel.
Once frozen, use these to provide some soothing relief, reduce inflammation and reduce itching after birth.
Whether you’re having a homebirth, a hospital birth or birthing in a birth center, you’ll receive a perineal bottle after the birth. Keep this little friend with you any time you go pee. Have it filled with water, ready for use. And then when you go pee, simply squirt it on your perineum to decrease any burning on your sore or wounded areas from the sting of the pee.
You can also fill your bottle with the herbal infusion (cooled). And you can also add a drop of lavender essential oil a couple times a day and use the entire bottle on your bottom for quick relief.
To finish this part of the Postpartum Care series, I wanted to mention that most importantly, you should be resting your body. Most of your day during at least the first week should be spent laying down or comfortably sitting down.
Also, if using toilet paper is too harsh for you, you can always dampen it first or use cloth during postpartum.