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Giving birth can do a number on your body. Now that you’ve done the hard work of bringing your baby into the world, you’re in need of some extra TLC!

Whether you’re itchy, sore, or just looking to feel a little cleaner in the perineal area, a sitz bath might provide just the relief you’re seeking.

If you’re not familiar with this popular postpartum healing technique or would like a little more information about the benefits and risks, search no further and just read on…

A sitz bath is a warm, shallow bath for cleansing the perineal area. (If you would rather take your sitz bath with cold water, a dated, small study suggests that cold water may actually be more healing than warm water for women’s perineal pain after labor, but make sure to discuss this with your doctor first.)

While sitz baths can be used anytime (and incorporated as part of your regular personal hygiene routine), they’re especially recommended for women who have recently given birth vaginally as the temperature of the water used in a sitz bath increases blood flow to the perineal area and promotes faster healing.

But even if you didn’t give birth vaginally, they can be a soothing experience for all postpartum moms. Whether you spent time laboring and are feeling the effects, or you just have some hemorrhoids that pregnancy bestowed, a sitz bath can offer relief without interfering with your C-section incision.

Fairly simple to perform, sitz baths can be accomplished with a special bowl fitted on a toilet or in a regular bathtub, and they don’t require a doctor’s prescription. (Though a doctor may advise adding certain herbs or medications to the water in the sitz bath for additional comfort and relief.)

People turn to sitz baths during the postpartum period for:

  • pain relief, including from an episiotomy or hemorrhoids
  • increased blood flow, which can promote healing
  • relaxation
  • cleansing
  • itch relief

There are very few risks associated with sitz baths. Generally speaking, performing one is considered very safe.

There is a limited risk of infection to the perineal area if the bath is not properly cleaned, and germs enter through cuts or surgical wounds. On the extremely rare chance this occurs and pain or itching increases, stop taking sitz baths and consult with your doctor.

As we previously mentioned there are two common ways to perform a sitz bath. You can either use your bathtub or a kit designed for a toilet.

Regardless of which method you use, sitz baths can be performed multiple times a day (two to four times daily is a common recommendation) for pain relief and perineal healing after giving birth. We’ve included step-by-step instructions for both options below:

Fitted toilet bowl sitz bath kits

  1. Pick-up a sitz bath kit from your local drugstore or shop online. (Make sure to rinse out the parts of the kit with clean water before using them.)
  2. Place the sitz bath basin in the open toilet and make sure that it fits properly.
  3. Warm or cool water and any herbs or medications suggested by your doctor can either be added to the sitz bath before sitting down or through the tubing provided with the kit after sitting down. There should be a sufficient amount of water added to the basin to cover the perineum.
  4. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes. If you’re using tubing from the kit, additional warm water can be added whenever desired during the sitz bath. (Most kits have vents that prevent overflowing and extra water will just flow into the toilet where it can be flushed after the sitz bath.)
  5. When finished soaking, stand up and pat dry using a clean cotton towel. (Be gentle and avoid rubbing or scrubbing.)
  6. Clean the kit to prepare it for your next sitz bath. Most kits will come with cleaning solutions and directions. If your kit doesn’t, you can scrub it with a solution of 2 tablespoons of bleach mixed with a 1/2 gallon of hot water. After using this solution, rinse the parts thoroughly and check for any cracks.

Bathtub sitz baths

  1. Clean the bathtub in preparation for your sitz bath using a solution of 2 tablespoons of bleach mixed with a 1/2 gallon of hot water. Make sure to rinse the tub thoroughly after scrubbing with the bleach solution.
  2. Fill the tub with 3 to 4 inches of water. Ensure that it’s a comfortable temperature and then add any herbs or medications prescribed by your doctor.
  3. Step into the tub and soak the perineum for 15 to 20 minutes. (To make the experience more comfortable, it can be useful to bend your knees or dangle your legs over the edge of the tub.)
  4. When finished soaking, stand up and pat dry using a clean cotton towel. (Avoid rubbing or scrubbing as this can irritate.)
  5. Rinse out the bathtub thoroughly before leaving the bathroom.

Want to make your sitz bath more enjoyable?

  • Try keeping the bathroom warm and/or covering parts of your body not being exposed to the water.
  • Keep a stack of clean, inexpensive washcloths near the toilet or bath tub for drying after the sitz bath since things can be messy with postpartum bleeding. (Make sure to pat dry instead of rubbing.)
  • Use an electric kettle or slow cooker plugged in nearby (in a safe location) to keep a supply of warm water ready if desired.
  • Give yourself a baby-free space to relax. Ask others to watch your new bundle of joy while you take your sitz bath. If you need to have your baby join you, arrange a comfortable spot for your baby in the bathroom, so you won’t have to disrupt your sitz bath to check on them.
  • Add Epsom salt or herbs to your water to make extra healing concoctions.

You’ve labored hard to bring your little one into the world, and now it’s time to take care of yourself and do some healing. While it’s not quite leaving home and heading to a spa, a sitz bath in the comfort of your own bathroom may be just the TLC your body is seeking!