A sitz bath is an easy and effective way to help soothe discomfort after a vaginal birth. This article shares an easy postpartum sitz bath recipe to help your postpartum recovery.
As a doula, I recommend a sitz bath for all my postpartum parents. It is an easy, effective way to help soothe your body and recover from giving birth. But, sometimes, people are a little confused about what a sitz bath is and how to make one. Don’t worry, this article covers it all.
What is a sitz bath?
A sitz bath is a shallow bath filled with warm water and soothing ingredients that help cleanse and relieve pain in the perineal area. Frequent use can speed healing after birth, prevent infection, and help you relax.
While they can be used for various other reasons, sitz baths are especially helpful after giving birth, when you likely feel quite sore and swollen. They can also help ease hemorrhoids, a common (and unfortunate) condition often developed during pregnancy and postpartum.
Setting up a sitz bath at home
You can buy special sitz bath basins (even ones that fit on your toilet complete with a sprayer!), but a regular bathtub is perfectly fine. Simply fill the tub with enough water to fully submerge your bottom.
You can choose two different water temps depending on your healing needs (and personal preference).
- Warm water: great for healing and comfort
- Cool water: works well for swelling relief
Is a sitz bath just warm water?
Nope! Ideally, a sitz bath is water paired with other soothing ingredients, such as herbs, Epsom salts, and baking soda. You can customize the sitz bath ingredients to your liking and requirements for healing.
The herbal sitz bath recipe below is designed to help soothe your body and mind. It can also be tailored to your individual preferences.
The combination of ingredients will help promote healing and give you the moment of relaxation you deserve.
What to add to a sitz bath:
- Epsom salt: reduces pain, swelling, and stress
- Baking soda: relieves itching and irritation
- Lavender: soothing aromas, antioxidants, and cleansing properties
- Chamomile: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, soothes hemorrhoids and calms anxiety
- Calendula: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and other healing properties
- Oatmeal: soothes inflammation and moisturizes the skin
- Witch Hazel: anti-inflammatory astringent that helps soothe and heal tears
There are a variety of other postpartum-safe herbs that can be included in your sitz bath. Be sure to talk with a herbalist, midwife, or doctor before using them.
If you don’t have access, or don’t want to add herbs, using Epsom salt and baking salt alone will still be a very effective sitz bath.
How do I prepare the herbs for a sitz bath?
The Epsom salt and baking soda in this recipe are fine to dissolve in the bath water, but adding herbs can get messy. Here are a couple of options for adding herbs to your sitz bath.
Option #1: create a strong “tea”
- Bring one quart (or four cups) of water to a boil.
- Add a cup of herbs to boiling water, either in a muslin bag/tea sachet or loose in the water.
- Simmer for up to ten minutes, or turn off the heat and let it steep for several hours.
- Strain the herbs (if required), and then add the “tea” to your bath water.
Postpartum Doula Tip: make more than enough and save any extra “tea” for your next sitz bath.
Option #2: add herbs to a bag
If you don’t have the time to create a tea, put the dried herbs in a muslin bag or disposable tea sachet and add it straight to your bath water.
Then, try hanging the bag over the spout while filling the tub to help the herbs seep into the bath.
How do you make a homemade sitz bath?
Making a sitz bath at home is pretty easy, especially if you follow this recipe. The most challenging part will be rounding up herbs, so you can consider buying a premade herbal sitz bath mix, if easier.
- ½ cup Epsom salt
- ¼ cup baking soda
- Optional: Handful of dried herbs (see above for how to prepare)
- Ex. lavender, chamomile, calendula, rosemary or oatmeal.
- Optional: 2 Tbsp. witch hazel
- Have somebody clean the tub, ensuring no soap residue is left.
- Prepare the herbs (see above).
- Fill the tub with hot water, and add the prepared herbs, Epsom salt, and baking soda to dissolve. Tip: place a towel on the tub’s floor for added comfort.
- Allow the water to cool until it reaches a comfortable, warm temperature. DO NOT submerge yourself in very hot water. You don’t want to risk burning your perineum.
- Carefully lower yourself into the bath, until your bottom is submerged in the water.
- Soak for 10-20 minutes. Add warm water during your soak, to keep it at a comfortable temperature (if needed).
- When ready, slowly and gently pat your perineum and bottom dry with a clean towel.
Remember, if you have stitches, your healthcare provider may suggest you stick to one sitz bath daily. If you don’t have stitches, you can feel free to have a sitz bath whenever you need relief.