Delivering a baby puts the body through the wringer. This is especially true as areas of the body are stretched to their limits in order to accommodate babies fitting through the birth canal. And while the body does eventually return to a place of normalcy, the road to getting there can be an uncomfortable one. This is why when there is perineum pain, discomfort, or itchiness, doctors will recommend a sitz bath. A therapy that not all women may have heard about pre-pregnancy. But during the fourth trimester, everything needed to be known about sitz baths will be. Making postpartum women experts on the subject.
According to What To Expect, perineum is one of the most common issues that women suffer from postpartum discomfort. Because of this, finding ways to alleviate pain in the area is necessary for a better quality of life while the perineum heals. But because there are not many ways to bring comfort to the perineum, many women are not sure how to go about doing so. So, when they are introduced to sitz baths, the relief quest is finally found.
Here is everything to know about sitz baths.
Sitz Bath Explain
After women give birth, their perineum can initially be painful and gradually move to itchiness as heals. Both conditions require a remedy to ease the discomfort. And that remedy, as recommended by doctors, is sitz baths.
According to MedicalNewsToday, stiz baths are small amounts of warm water that soak the perineum. While the area is supposed to stretch during childbirth, it gets stretched to its limit at that time. For some, the perineum even tears or needs to be cut. As such, it is understood that the area can be incredibly uncomfortable.
By soaking in a sitz bath, the area is not only soothed, per the publication but allows for blood circulation to the injured area. Something that helps with the healing process.
This is not a bath, however. It is approximately three inches of water that is used specifically to soak the perineum. And after up to 20 minutes of soakingup to four times per day, according to MedicalNewsTodaythere should be some relief felt in the region and some healing taking place as well.
Benefits Of A Sitz Bath
Sitz baths can be very beneficial to women after both vaginal and C-section births.
According to Healthlinethe ways that sitz baths are beneficial for women include:
- Reduce perineum swelling
- Deceases soreness after delivery
- Keeps the injured perineum clean
- Reduces size of postpartum hemorrhoids
By soaking in just a small amount of water, an immense amount of healing can be had all while decreasing pain as well.
What To Put In A Sitz Bath
For those who have the desire, or it has been recommended to take a sitz bath, using just warm water will help with the soothing and healing process. However, there are ingredients that can be added that further aid in the process of fighting infection or decrease swelling of the perineum.
According to VeryWell Healththe ingredients that those taking a sitz bath can choose to put in the water include:
- Epsom salts
- Witch hazel
- Non-ionized sea salt
- Baking soda
It should be noted that just because it is safe to soak the perineum after giving birth, that does not mean that it is safe to use ingredients in the bath that are used when soaking the entire body.
Ingredients that should not be used in a sitz bath because they will cause irritation include:
- olive oil
- Essential oils
- Shower gel
- Bubble bath
When trying to heal an area of the body that has experienced trauma from birth, it is not the time to experiment with ingredients not recommended by the doctor. As such, stick to the tried-and-true ingredients for healing. The perineum will be better off for it.
Ways To Take A Sitz Bath
When the decision to take a sitz bath has been made, there are two ways that the bath can be taken.
According to University Health Networksthose ways include:
- Using a kit purchased at the store that fits on the toilet
- Soaking the injured area in a shallow bath
In both instances, water no warmer than 102 F should be used, salt or baking soda is recommended to be dissolved in the water, and the intended area should be soaked for 15 minutes. If there is the ability to air dry and wear loose-fitting underwear, that is recommended as well.
Either way is easy to do and completely correct. It is all up to preference as to which bath is chosen.
Those Who Should Not Take Sitz Baths
As helpful as sitz baths can be for healing, there are some people who would not benefit from them.
According to HealthGrades, those who should not take sitz baths include:
- Those with an infection
- Those with a vaginal or anal wound
- Those who have discharge that is “foul-smelling”
In these instances, there is likely more afoot than simply trying to heal after giving birth. And as such, seeking the advice of a healthcare professional is recommended.
Risks Associated With Sitz Baths
While in most cases, sitz baths provide a world of good for those who take them, there are times when there may be some slight risks to using sitz baths. This can be especially true if they are used excessively.
According to Banner Healththe risks that come with using sitz baths include:
- Infection can develop if the sitz bath is not kept clean. Both the bathtub and small sitz tub need to be cleaned thoroughly before every use.
- Those who decide to make the water warmer than the 102 F recommendation face the risk of burning their skin
- Too high a concentration of Epsom salts can cause complications in the injured area
It is imperative that those who choose to use sitz baths to heal their perineum follow instructions exactly. This will ensure that they decrease their healing time, getting back to tip-top shape in no time flat. It is when the instructions of healthcare professionals are not followed that problems can crop up. And the last thing that anyone trying to care for a newborn wants is to extend the healing time to the perineum as a result of complications.
Source: What To Expect, MedicalNewsToday, Healthline, VeryWell Health, University Health Network, HealthGrades, Banner Health