Vaginal delivery undeniably puts high levels of stress and pressure not only to the vagina but also to the perineum- the region between the vagina and the anus. The perianal region undergoes stretching to accommodate the passage of a newborn’s head.
Due to the enormous pressure during childbirth, the perineum may experience tearing which ultimately results in the soreness and tenderness of the perineum that may last several days to a few weeks. In some cases wherein the newborn’s head is too large, doctors may need to create an incision in the perineum, also called an episiotomy to facilitate the safe normal childbirth.
It is important for mothers to understand the importance of perianal care after giving birth. Labor takes a toll on your body, and thus it is essential that mothers should take ample rest and proper nutrition for the effective pain reduction and for rapid healing to take place.
Another excellent way to alleviate the discomforts associated with vaginal delivery is to implement sitz bath a few times daily. In general, a sitz bath induces comfort and pain relief. Due to the delicate nature of a postpartum woman’s body, it is advisable to do a sitz bath using a sitz bath kit rather than prepare one on a tub. The activity of going in and out of a bath tub is strenuous for mothers a few days after the delivery. To lower the risk of accidents and injuries, it is also recommended to obtain assistance during a sitz bath.
Sitz bath not only soothes the perianal region, but it also delivers two other benefits:
– Speeds up the healing of the episiotomy site
– Sooth and relive discomfort from hemorrhoids; a condition that may potentially develop during childbirth
For normal delivery, the doctor may prescribe warm sitz bath at least twice a day. For mothers with episiotomy wound and have developed hemorrhoids, doctors may prescribe medications or herbal solutions that are to be added to the bath.
How to Take a Sitz Bath
1. It is important that the bathtub is cleaned thoroughly prior to a sitz. The tub should be disinfected so as to prevent infection. Create a cleansing mixture consisting of two tablespoons of bleach and at half a gallon of water. Use a scrub to get rid of the soap residue as well as microorganisms which may have accumulated at the bottom and on the sides of the tub. Rinse thoroughly before filling the tub with sitz bath. If you are using a store-bought sitz bath, simply place the small basin over the toilet and slowly position yourself onto the bowl.
2. Ideally, a sitz bath makes use of 4 to 8 inches of water. To ensure optimum comfort, the water should be warm at 98F. Ask someone to assist you entering the tub. Make sure to raise your feet on the sides of the tub so that the perianal region is the only part of the body exposed to warm water or sitz bath herbal solution. You may add solutions and herbal preparations that are known to induce relaxation, pain relief, and healing. Proven safe and effective sitz bath additives are: -Epsom salt- Baking soda – Vinegar – Witch hazel – Olive oil – Lavender oil – Chamomile oil
3. Soak the perianal region into the tub for about 20 minutes. It is best to check the water once in a while to assess if the sitz bath is still at the right temperature range. Refill sitz bath with warm water if needed.
4. Once finished, carefully get out of the tub or toilet seat, and with assistance if need be. Use a clean towel or cloth and pat dry the lower part of the body. Never rub or scrub the perineum as this may exacerbate the unpleasant symptoms, or may cause further irritation or infection.