After giving birth, you will be eager to take your first bath. However, even if you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, you should wait at least six hours after childbirth. If you had stitches or went through a Caesarean section, wait at least 24 hours for the swelling and inflammation to reduce.
Let’s take a deep dive:
- How soon after giving birth can you take a bath?
- Bathing after giving birth vaginally
- Bathing after a C-section delivery
- How soon after delivering can you take a Sitz bath?
- Safe ways of taking a post-partum bath
- When you shouldn't be taking a post-partum bath
- So how do you wash before you can take a bath?
- To wrap up
How soon after giving birth can you take a bath?
The decision about when you take start taking baths again is ultimately up to you and should be based on your comfort level. Some women may want to take a bubble bath from day one, while others may not feel comfortable doing so until weeks have passed after delivery.
As a rule of thumb:
- if you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery without stitches, you may take a bath at any time. Most women wait until most of their vaginal bleeding has reduced before they jump into a bath.
- if you had a vaginal delivery needing perineal stitches, it’s recommended that you wait at least 24 hours for the inflammation and swelling to calm down. However, if there is any sign of infection, you shouldn’t take a bath until the wound is fully healed.
- if you had a Caesarean section, you can take a bath when you feel steady on your feet, usually after 12 hours or the next day. The stitches are usually covered by a water-proof dressing so you don’t have to worry about wetting it.
Bathing after giving birth vaginally
Most women are eager to take a bath shortly after giving birth, regardless of the delivery method. In fact, many doctors recommend it! Bathing can help cleanse the body and promote healing. It’s also a great way to relax and de-stress after labor.
Depending on the type of birth you had, you may even be able to have a bath on the first day after your delivery! And with these organic post-partum herbal bath salts, you will feel more like yourself again:
Uncomplicated vaginal delivery without stitches
If you had a smooth sailing vaginal delivery and didn’t need any stitches, you can have a bath any time after the delivery. If you think about it, if you had a water birth, it was basically having a bath during the delivery itself. However, most people recommend that you wait at least a few hours between having the baby and taking a bath to make sure you don’t have excessive vaginal bleeding and that you’re steady on your feet.
Vaginal delivery with vaginal or perineal stitches
If you have an episiotomy wound, wait 24 hours before bathing to give a chance for the inflammation and swelling to reduce. After that, it’s safe to bathe as long as there are no signs of infection. You should avoid baths if you have a fever or the area around your stitches is red, swollen, or leaking fluid.
Bathing after a C-section delivery
There are some things you should keep in mind if you’ve had a C-section delivery. For one thing, you won’t be able to feel or move your lower body for at least 6 hours post-surgery. Then, there’s the pain.
As long as you feel steady on your feet and can face sitting in the bath tub, you can have a bath. Just make sure you have someone to help you in and out of the tub if it’s early days post-delivery.
Don’t worry about your incision wound and stitches. Most dressings now a days are water-proof and meant to be kept on for 6 weeks until your first post-natal visit. This dressing will keep your wound dry and covered. They are also usually transparent so you can see if the incision reopens.
Having a bath will not increase your chances of a burst stitch. However, if you exert a lot of abdominal force getting in and out of the bath, you may re-open the wound. If it happens, be sure to contact your doctor right away for medical attention.
In short, most women are able to bathe safely after a C-section delivery – but it’s always best to check with your doctor first. Bathing can provide much-needed relaxation and promote healing in the days and weeks following childbirth.
How soon after delivering can you take a Sitz bath?
Taking a sitz bath is a great way to relieve pain and relax after giving birth. In fact, you can take one as soon as you feel ready, even while you’re still in the hospital!
A sitz bath is a tub of warm water that helps with postpartum perineal pain. To make a sitz bath, all you need is a Sitz Tub and some warm water. Set the temperature to about 36°C – 38°C with your wrist before sitting in it. Use Sitz Salt to make it extra soothing.
Sitz baths help with pain relief, cleansing the perineum, reduce swelling and speed up wound healing. You shouldn’t sit in the bath for more than 20 minutes though because this may increase your risk of stitches breaking down.
You can also do a ‘Sitz bath’ in a regular bath tub by mixing Sitz salts in your bath water. Just make sure the bath tub is clean to reduce your risk of infection.
The recommendations for how soon you can take a Sitz bath is the same as when you take a full body bath:
If you had a vaginal birth, you can start taking your first sitz bath anytime but it’s usually recommended you take one after 6-12 hours have passed since the birth.
If you have an episiotomy wound, wait 24 hours before taking a bath. Ask if the stitches can handle a warm soak in plain water before bathing. Gentley pat dry afterwards so as not to tear out any stitches prematurely. When you’re done, just clean the tub and store it, ready to use for the next time.
Further reading: How to wipe poop after giving birth with stitches?
Safe ways of taking a post-partum bath
Especially in the first few days post-delivery, never have a bath on your own. Always have someone near in case of an emergency.
Always make sure your bath tub is clean and filled with plain, clean water before getting into the bathtub.
To avoid irritation, stay away from any bath products containing fragrances like commercial bath bombs and bubble baths. Also avoid harsh soaps or cleansers. Try not to soak for too long to avoid irritating vaginal wounds and/or tearing stitches. By this I mean not more than 15- 20 minutes of tub-time.
To minimize risk of infection, dry yourself completely after taking a bath. Pat yourself with a towel but do not rub the perineum. This could irritate the wound and delay healing.
C-section mums may have difficulty getting in and out of the tub until six weeks after giving birth due to their incision site. So if you’re taking a bath, make sure you have help to get in and out of the bath. Or take a Sitz bath.
If you feel like you cannot support your weight while having a bath, ask someone for assistance or wait until you are fully recovered.
When you shouldn’t be taking a post-partum bath
If you had a really bad tear during delivery, needing high stitches or anal stitches, you should wait until the wound is healed and your doctor gives the OK before taking a bath.
Sometimes wounds can get infected. If you are experiencing fever, severe pain, or feel generally ill, speak to your doctor or mid-wife. Never take a bath if you’re concerned about wound infection or breakdown.
Some women experience dizziness, headaches, leg weakness and other side effects from spinal anaesthesia. Wait til you’re steady on your feet before trying to have a bath.
So how do you wash before you can take a bath?
If you’re not ready for a bath yet, there are other ways to clean yourself. You can usually have a shower on the same day post-vaginal delivery or the day after your Caesarean section. If you don’t feel up to a shower yet, have a sponge bath in bed or just a wipe down with baby wipes.
To wrap up
The warm water of a bath can help soothe and relax your body. It’s also a good way to clean yourself up and get rid of any residual blood or other fluids. However, make sure you don’t take a bath too soon after delivery. If you’re not sure, ask your doctor or mid-wife whether it’s safe for you to start taking baths.
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