How a Sitz Bath Can Help You Heal Postpartum
The fourth trimester is a time of joy (baby has finally arrived!), but also an extended period of healing. Whether you delivered your little one vaginally or via c-section, the post-birth recovery process can be challenging, to say the least. Hemorrhoids, vaginal bleeding, soreness and a weakened pelvic floor are all par for the course—not to mention all the emotions that come with transitioning into the role of a new parent.
To support you through the process, consider creating a postpartum essentials kit. One item that should definitely be on your post-birth radar (especially if you experienced perineal tearing during delivery) is a sitz bath. The convenient device can reduce postpartum pain and foster recovery. Ready to learn more? Below, learn what a sitz bath is and discover the benefits of using one, then shop our favorite products you can integrate into your new mama self-care routine.
First things first, what is a sitz bath? Simply put, it’s essentially a portable bowl that rests on the toilet seat. You fill it with water (and possibly some bath salts) and soak. It offers relief from pain, soreness and itchiness by creating a warm, shallow bath for the perineum to sit in.
Using a sitz bath postpartum can offer an array of soothing benefits to speed up the recovery process. It’s particularly helpful if you’ve had an episiotomy, tore during labor or are experiencing hemorrhoids, anal or genital discomfort. Sitting in a sitz bath supports healing by increasing blood flow to the perineal area, explains Susan Rosenberg, a DONA-certified postpartum doula and certified lactation counselor. Gil Weiss, MD, an ob-gyn based in Chicago, adds that using a sitz bath has the added benefit of keeping tears and stitches clean post-delivery.
Curious as to when you can use a sitz bath postpartum? You should wait at least 24 hours after giving birth to start taking sitz baths. In the meantime, Sherry Ross, MD, an ob-gyn and women’s sexual health expert, recommends gently rinsing the perineum and vagina with a peri bottle filled with warm water. Once the recovery process is underway, start soaking for between 15 to 30 minutes, up to twice a day. You can stop using an at-home sitz bath when your perineum is healed or your pain has subsided, advises Weiss. When using a sitz bath after birth, the tender area may feel sore at first. However, if you experience prolonged discomfort during or after a soak, stop using your sitz bath, and contact your doctor, especially if you experience any signs of infection, increased bleeding or worsened pain.
At this point you may be wondering how to use a sitz bath—don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. When preparing a soothing sitz bath postpartum, fill it with 3 to 4 inches of water, and make sure it’s properly resting on your toilet seat. Water temperature is largely up to personal preference, but Weiss recommends keeping it around the temperature of your body (97 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit). To make sure it isn’t too hot or cold, try putting a few drops on your wrist, just as you would when testing baby’s milk. You can also add soothing ingredients, such as Epsom salt or witch hazel to the water to further support healing, suggests Weiss. Last but not least, be sure to clean your sitz bath after each use to avoid infection.
If you give birth at a hospital, you may be given a sitz bath to use there and to take home. On the other hand, if you’re purchasing one for yourself, keep the following expert-backed pointers in mind:
- Straightforward design. New moms searching for a portable sitz bath should look for a design that fits over a standard toilet seat. Ross adds that these options often have on/off flow control, a 2-quart solution bag for warm water and an outflow area that dispenses used water into the toilet below.
- Easy to clean. For optimal results and to avoid infection, it’s important to clean your sitz bath between uses. Weiss suggests choosing a design that’s easy to clean for your convenience.
Ready to incorporate a sitz bath into your postpartum-recovery routine? Browse top-rated kits below, then choose from sitz bath salts or soaks for even further relaxation and healing.
First on our list of the best sitz baths for postpartum healing is this standard design. The portable sitz bath is foldable, so you can easily store it when not in use. It features multiple vents at the back for overflow (or for pouring out used water). When you’re done soaking, clean the sitz bath and then hang it dry to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria.
- Features a multi-vent overflow system
- Collapsible design for easy storage
- Fits comfortably on most toilet seats
- Some reviewers say the reservoir isn’t as deep as they expected
Say “goodbye” to perineal pain sooner rather than later with the help of this postpartum sitz bath. The simple-to-use (and clean!) design has a convenient flow control clip, so you can refill the reservoir to your liking with ease. Simply attach the 2-quart solution bag to the back of your toilet seat or a nearby wall, fill it with warm water and soak for soothing relief. What’s more, it’s designed to fit all standard toilet seats.
- Fits all standard toilet seats
- Has an on/off flow control clip
- The water bag has to be hooked to the back of the toilet or a nearby wall
Next on our list of top-rated portable sitz baths is this pick from Soothic. The contoured, wide design offers a supportive seat, and the curved front edges mold to the back of your legs so you can sit back and relax. Add warm water and your favorite sitz bath salts, then use the rear vents to dispose of the reservoir’s contents when you’re finished. Better yet, it comes with a discreet storage bag for your convenience.
- Comes with a storage bag
- Rear vents for easy cleanup
- Contoured, wide design
- Some say the plastic isn’t as sturdy as they anticipated
Last but not least is this postpartum sitz bath with a comfortable, wide seat. Thanks to its non-slip pads, it won’t move while in use—plus, its deep bowl and flusher hose make filling it with warm water a piece of cake. This design can be placed on toilet seats of any size. When you’re done, simply hang it to dry.
- Comes with a helpful flusher hose
- Wide design
- Features non-slip pads
- Some reviewers say they had trouble setting up the hose
An Epsom salt sitz bath can work wonders for those experiencing postpartum discomfort. Shop the best sitz bath salts and soaks to provide some much-needed relief.
Want to enhance your postpartum bath experience? Look no further than this soothing blend that’s been thoughtfully created to offer deeper relaxation and target relief. This sitz bath soak has been dermatologically tested, is safe for sensitive skin and contains Epsom salts, frankincense, aloe vera and lavender oil. Use it in a sitz bath tub or a portable design for the toilet, depending on your preferences.
- Dermatologically tested and free of petroleum, parabens and artificial fragrance
- Fast-dissolving mineral and herbal blend
- Some say the natural scent is stronger than expected
Add this soothing sitz bath soak to boiling water, steep it until the blend cools down to a comfortable temperature, strain it into your sitz bath and then relax and let it work its magic. The all-natural ingredients were carefully chosen due to their tissue healing abilities, so you can count on them to deliver much-needed comfort. Plus, once your perineum has healed, you can use this blend for a full-body soak whenever you’re craving a bit of me-time.
- Made from all-natural, GMO-free ingredients
- Doesn’t dissolve in water; has to be steeped and strained
This blend is perfect for creating a restorative Epsom salt sitz bath. The soak is made from 100 percent dead sea salt to naturally alleviate postpartum aches and pains. Simply add the sitz bath salt to warm water in your tub or portable kit and experience relief from perineal irritation in no time.
- Can be used up to four times a day, as needed
- Free of common allergens like gluten, wheat, dairy and soy
This herbal sitz bath soak is a must-have for new moms who love organic remedies. The pack includes individual herbal sachets that can be cooled and used as gentle compresses, or brewed to create a healing sitz bath. You can even pour leftover liquid onto a postpartum pad and freeze it for a DIY perineal ice pack—the healing possibilities are truly endless when it comes to this refreshing blend.
- Can be used chilled or warmed
- Free of parabens, artificial fragrance and GMOs
- Herbal pads are fragile and can burst
- Doesn’t dissolve in water; has to be steeped and strained
About the experts:
Sherry Ross, MD, is an ob-gyn and women’s sexual health expert. She’s also the author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period. She received her medical degree from New York Medical College.
Susan Rosenberg, is a DONA-certified postpartum doula and certified lactation counselor. Based in Newton, Massachusetts, she works with families throughout Boston and its suburbs.
Gil Weiss, MD, is an ob-gyn working throughout The Loop in Chicago and Northbrook, Illinois. He’s a graduate of the University of Toronto in Canada, and attended medical school at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel. He completed his residency at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
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