Benefits of Postpartum Sitz Baths

Having a baby changes your body. You might want to try a sitz bath for sore skin, stitches, or hemorrhoids after delivery, but does it work? There are some benefits to using a postpartum sitz bath in your recovery.

Are There Benefits of Postpartum Sitz Baths?

A sitz bath is a type of treatment that is done by sitting in warm water. Sitz baths are helpful for both men and women to help clean and treat problems or wounds in the anus and genitals. If you’ve just had a baby, your doctor might recommend a postpartum sitz bath.

The process of a sitz bath is to soak the perineal, anal, and genital area. The perineum is the skin between the anus and the vulva. You might have a tear, stitches, or hemorrhoids, or you might be swollen and sore. 

A warm sitz bath works by bringing blood flow to the area to relax the muscles and promote wound healing. It can help in other ways, too.

Clean the area. Skin can be sensitive to touching and to toilet paper for a few weeks after delivery. Since you will bleed for four to six weeks, it’s important to keep the area clean. If you have stitches, it’s also important to keep the area clean to help the skin heal. A warm sitz bath can gently clean the area when it hurts to wipe.

Soothe the perineum. After delivery, the perineum and the vulva can be swollen and sore. Stitches and tears can also make the perineum tender. Warm sitz baths can help with pain and soothe the skin. However, some studies suggest cold sitz baths may be more effective for perineum care.

Soothe hemorrhoids. Many women have hemorrhoids after giving birth. A hemorrhoid happens when a vein in the rectum swells. This can happen because of pushing a baby during delivery or because of constipation. Hemorrhoids can be painful, itchy, and cause bleeding from the anus. A sitz bath can relieve the pain and itchiness and keep the area clean.

Soothe an anal fissure. Sometimes women are constipated after having a baby. This can happen because it hurts to pass stool and you might hold it. It can also happen because the digestive system slows down during pregnancy. If you strain during a bowel movement and you’re constipated, this can tear the skin in the anus. This is called an anal fissure, which can be painful. A postpartum sitz bath can help relieve the pain.

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Soothe postpartum cramps and a sore vulva. Women can have cramps after childbirth as the uterus contracts and shrinks back into its normal position. For some women, these cramps feel almost as strong as contractions. You might notice this happens when you breastfeed. You might also notice your vagina aches, throbs, or hurts in general. Sitting in a sitz bath can help cramps and pain.

Replace showering. If you’re having trouble standing in the shower after having your baby, or you can’t shower, you can use a sitz bath to gently clean the area. 

How to Use a Sitz Bath After Childbirth

You can buy a sitz tub that fits into your toilet or you can use your bathtub. To draw up a warm postpartum sitz bath in your tub, make sure to:

  • Wait three days to bathe or soak after giving birth
  • Use warm water not hot water
  • Fill the bathtub with two to three inches of water
  • Cover your whole vaginal area
  • Drain the water and fill it again with warm water once it cools
  • Sit in the tub for 10 minutes, three times a day
  • Stand up slowly as you might feel faint
  • Let the area air dry or gently pat dry with a towel

You can add salts or medicine to the water if your doctor suggests it. Warm water is enough to soothe and clean the area. Don’t rub the vaginal area with a towel as this can hurt your skin.

Make sure the tub is clean. There’s a chance that germs from a bathtub or sitz tub that isn’t cleaned well can get into cuts or wounds. This could cause an infection. Make sure to clean your tub well between each use.

After having a baby, it’s important to watch your symptoms. Sitz baths work great for pain, cleaning the area, and itchy skin. If you’re using a postpartum sitz bath and it doesn’t seem to be helping, make sure to talk to your doctor.

Most women don’t have health problems after having a baby, but some women get infections or have bleeding problems. Talk to your doctor if you have postpartum symptoms, including:

  • Stitches that split open
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Sudden heavy blood loss
  • Feeling faint
  • Dizziness
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Pain in your leg
  • Pain when you breathe
  • Pain that gets worse
  • Itchiness that gets worse
  • Constipation
  • Fever
  • Feeling flu-like 
  • Throwing up
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 02, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

American Pregnancy Association: “Constipation in Pregnancy.”

Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology: “Cold Sitz Bath for Relief of Postpartum Perineal Pain.”

Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School: “Self-help steps to get through hemorrhoid flare-ups.”

National Health Service: “Your body after the birth.”

Northwestern Medicine: “Postpartum Instructions.”

Saint Luke’s Health System: “Taking a Sitz Bath.”

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