Congratulations, you made it through what might have been one of the most challenging experiences of your life. You brought new life into the world by giving birth, participating in one of the most sacred actions a human being can undergo. Obviously you now deserve to be treated like the queen, so I'm hoping you're feeling pampered and supported by those who love you. For many women, one of the most appealing ways to relax and care for their weary postpartum bodies is a long, hot bath. But how soon can you take a bath after giving birth? According to experts, the answer depends on your delivery.
If you've had a vaginal birth, you should be able to take a warm bath as soon as you feel ready. International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Leigh Anne O'Connor tells Romper, "A person can bathe immediately after giving birth vaginally. Think about all of the water births!" A Women's Health and Wellness expert for Maple Holistics, agrees that a warm soak "hastens the healing process, and soothes the body and mind" but emphasizes the water should be warm, not hot. A quick elbow test should help you find the right temperature."
But what if you had a C-section? Since you're dealing with a surgical incision, you'll need to talk with your doctor about how and when to clean it, or even expose it to pure water. O'Connor says, "With a Caesarean it is best to consult your doctor about when to bathe, as much depends on what materials were used to close the incision and how well you are healing."
Many women who have birthed vaginally enjoy using traditional healing herbs in the tub to help the process along. After one of my friends had a particularly rough healing process, her midwife recommended soaking in a bath of rosemary leaves. I'll never forget how her husband showed up at a friend's house with a pair of scissors, asking to trim a handful off their rosemary bush!
But rosemary isn't the only herb with powerful postpartum benefits. Herbalist and homeopath Sara Chana tells Romper, "Herbs have been used for thousands of years to help nourish a postpartum body and calm the mind." Chana recommends drinking Red Raspberry Leaf tea after birth to help tone the uterus, and I personally steeped and used it in warm baths for a week after the birth of my first baby. Chana also suggests motherwort and nettle for those postpartum weeks and months. "Herbs are a women's best friend," she maintains.
But postpartum self-care doesn't stop at bath time. O'Connor says the most critical thing a woman needs after childbirth is a "gatekeeper". By this, she tells Romper, she is referring to a partner, sister, doula, or someone else who will respond to and manage all of the people who want to come meet the baby. "The new parents do not need to be hosting anyone," O'Connor stresses. "Postpartum doulas can be amazing as they can support the new family without being in the way like so many other helpers. The new mom is experiencing so many changes in her body physically and emotionally; she needs to heal and get to know her baby."
For many of us, this is easier said than done. How does a gatekeeper maintain healthy boundaries without offending relatives and friends? O'Connor has some simple advice. "I tell new parents to tell their friends and family this: The price of admission to meet the new baby is a healthy and delicious meal, a clean kitchen, and a short visit." Hey, sounds like a win to me. And if you want to follow that up with a nice hot bath, just make sure your healthcare provider says it's OK.
Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.