If you’re having a baby soon, then you probably have a few practical questions about life after delivery. For instance, how soon can you take a bath after giving birth? It’s easy to work up quite a sweat during labor, after all, so it’s totally understandable if you want to rinse off.
When can I take a tub bath again?
Taking a long soak in the bathtub may have to wait for a bit. “Showers are preferable to tub bathing for the first six weeks after giving birth,” Lucille Russo, MD, OB/GYN at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, tells Romper. As far as when exactly you can hop in the tub again? “It really depends on the type of birth a woman had and if there are any complications,” Dr. Jane van Dis, Medical Director and board-certified OB/GYN at Maven Clinic, tells Romper. Someone who experienced significant tearing might need to wait a little longer, for instance. Ask your doctor, nurse, or midwife to get a more personalized recommendation.
“If you've had a cesarean section, it's important not to immerse the incision in water for 4-6 weeks. Otherwise, it could lead to an infection,” Dr. Nicole Williams, OB/GYN & Founder of The Gynecology Institute of Chicago, tells Romper. Other physicians support this idea. “With a C-section birth, we prefer that you avoid a tub bath until the incision is sufficiently healed. Tub water can carry bacteria that could lead to an infection of the incision,” says Dr. Ghosh, who recommends speaking with your obstetrician to determine when it’s safe to take a full bath again.
What about a sitz bath?
Almost every physician interviewed for this piece praised the sitz bath. “Nearly all women who deliver – whether by cesarean or vaginal – can take a sitz bath, which is a warm, shallow (like 2-3" of water) soak for up to 20 minutes in the bathtub for the perineum (area between anus and vagina). It can be soothing, decrease the risk of infection and increase blood flow to the area,” as Dr. Jane van Dis, Medical Director and board-certified OB/GYN at Maven Clinic, tells Romper. The other physicians agree. “Usually with a little baking soda and antibacterial soap, a lukewarm bath just for your bottom can be very soothing,” says Dr. Williams. Some hospitals offer a sitz bath for patients, as noted in Romper, or you can buy a sitz bath kit at most drugstores.
When is it OK to Shower?
“Generally, after a vaginal birth, a person can take a shower as soon as they are able to stand,” Dr. Romy Ghosh, OB/GYN at Austin Regional Clinic, tells Romper. “If you had an epidural, we recommend waiting until the pain medication has worn off to ensure that you can safely stand up on your own. (We do not want you to fall and injure yourself!)” If you’re not sure about how steady your legs are yet, ask your doctor, nurse, or midwife for advice. There are a few other things you might not know about the post-baby shower, such as the fact that the water may sting a little bit, but you’ll probably feel pretty refreshed afterward, according to Romper. One Tawianese study even found that warm showers helped to reduce postpartum fatigue among women who delivered vaginally.
“After cesarean birth, we usually have our patients wait until the next morning before taking a shower,” says Dr. Ghosh. “A shower the day after delivery can be helpful in reducing the pain when removing the bandages over the cesarean incision. Always make sure to talk to your healthcare provider about how to properly care for your incision.” Do not try to scrub the incision area, as Dr. Ghosh further explains, and simply let the soapy water wash over it.
Although that long soak in the tub might have to wait a few weeks, you’ll probably be cleared to hop in the shower soon after welcoming your baby into the world. And when you’re able to take that first tub bath after delivery, it will feel that much more amazing.
Lucille Russo, MD, OB/GYN at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital
Res Theory Nurs Pract, 2017 May 1; "Efficacy of Warm Showers on Postpartum Fatigue Among Vaginal-Birth Taiwanese Women: A Quasi-Experimental Design"
Ching-Hsing Hsieh, Chien-Lan Chen, Feng-Fang Chung, Su-Ying Lin
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