“Can I take a bath after giving birth?” Learn what the experts have to say here.
When to take a bath after giving birth
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This is one of a woman’s first questions after giving birth. And most of the time, she is met with different answers.
The elders believe that a woman must not take a bath for several days after giving birth. They recommend waiting for one or two weeks before doing so. This is because they think taking a bath after giving birth may cause a “bit” or relapse from their recovery.
As funny as it sounds, this is still a belief that most new moms adhere to and one that medical experts strongly and frequently disprove.
Can I take a bath after giving birth?
To learn the truth about this popular belief, we consulted Dr. Maureen Laranang, an OB-Gynecologist from the Makati Medical Center.
According to the doctor, the belief that women should not take a bath after giving birth is plainly superstition and have no medical basis. In fact, she encourages new moms to always take a bath and maintain proper hygiene.
“There are patients who ask if they’re allowed to take a bath. We always tell them that (that idea) is just a superstitious belief from our elders. We advise them to take a bath and keep their bodies clean,” Dr. Laranang said in Filipino.
Why should a new mom take a bath?
“A person can bathe immediately after giving birth vaginally. Think about all of the water births!”
This is the statement of Leigh Anne O’Connor, an international board-certified lactation consultant in New York.
Effect of a hot bath after delivery
She explained that taking a bath in lukewarm water actually helps in the woman’s healing process. It does wonders in helping a new mother relax her mind and body.
Dr. Laura Fijolek McKain, an OB-Gynecologist from Wilmington, North Carolina, agrees. She said that taking a bath in lukewarm water after giving birth is therapeutic as it helps quickly recover the mother’s episiotomy and wounds acquired while in labor or delivery. This also helps in healing hemorrhoids from pregnancy and relieves tension and exhaustion from her body.
“The warm water can soothe the episiotomy repair and ease swollen hemorrhoids. It can also help ease the tension and fatigue that accompany having a new baby at home,” said Dr. McKain.
Dr. Laranang added that taking a bath is important to keep the new mother’s body, especially her breasts and nipple area, clean.
“The breast and nipple area should always be clean because the baby will be breastfeeding. This is why we always have to maintain personal hygiene,” she said.
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Postpartum wounds – when does it heal?
As much as we want to take a nice, long shower after giving birth, we’re afraid that doing so might affect our recovering wounds and stitches. What if it gets wet and becomes infected?
To clear these doubts, we also asked Dr. Laranang about the recovery time of a woman’s stitches and wounds from labor and delivery. Here’s what she has to say about it:
“Generally, a woman’s period of recovery is within the first week after giving birth. This is when she is expected to recover physically, emotionally, and mentally. It is also in this period that she needs to have adequate rest.”
She added that for women who gave birth via normal delivery, the expected period for recovery and healing of postpartum wounds is one week. Meanwhile, for moms who went through cesarean delivery or CS, it takes one week for their surgery stitches to dry and six weeks before they can say that it has fully healed.
Can CS moms take a bath right away?
Image from Freepik
Does taking a bath after giving birth apply to CS moms as well? Can they take a bath even though their stitches haven’t dried yet?
Medical experts have varying opinions about this.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, it’s better for the new mom to wait for their stitches to heal, or at least dry up before taking a bath or when postpartum bleeding is already over.
Meanwhile, according to the website New Health Guide, it usually takes 1 to 3 weeks for cesarean wounds to heal. And their doctor should monitor everything they do up to that point.
However, Dr. Laranang believes it’s safe for CS moms to take a bath upon getting discharged from the hospital. She explained that before a woman who has just given birth is allowed to go home, the nurses will clean the wound and put waterproof dressing so it will not get wet even if the mother takes a bath.
“Usually before we discharge the patient, we clean their wound. We put povidone iodine or alcohol on the suture and cover it with waterproof self-adhesive dressing. This is an important step so that the wound will not get wet even if the mom takes a bath when she gets home,” explained the doctor.
“Then we advise them to go back for their follow-up check up after a week and thats when we remove the self-adhesive dressing. If we see that the stitches has dried up and there are no infections, we don’t cover it anymore.” she added.
What to put in the bath after giving birth
Showers or tub baths are fine as long as the incision is properly dried afterward. Wash your body gently with warm water and mild soap, careful not to scrub the area around your pelvis or your c-section scar.
You can gently remove any little bandage strips that might still be on the wound five to seven days after you go home.
Effect of a hot bath after delivery
Sitting in warm water after giving birth is a part of a bath procedure known as a sitz bath. Sitz baths are helpful for both sexes when it comes to cleaning and healing problems or wounds in the anus and genitalia. If you recently gave birth to a child, your doctor might suggest a postpartum sitz bath.
During a sitz bath, the perineal, anal, and vaginal regions are submerged. The perineum is the skin area between the anus and the vulva. You can have a rip, hemorrhoids, sutures, or be puffy and in agony.
Warm sitz baths assist in relaxing the muscles and hasten wound healing by boosting blood flow to the area. It may possibly have additional advantages.
Can I take an epsom salt bath after giving birth
Epsom salt and herbal baths increase circulation, which speeds up healing and reduces swelling. They can help you relax and relieve any discomfort caused by sutures, perineal bruising, and hemorrhoids after giving birth.
Epsom salt and herbs like calendula, lavender, red raspberry leaf, yarrow, and/or comfrey can be added to a concentrated sitz bath or the bathtub for a soothing and bonding dip with your child.
Oatmeal can also be administered to lessen any itching that may be experienced when recovering from sutures.
Proper wound care after giving birth
Aside from maintaining proper hygiene, here are some more reminders for moms who just gave birth to ensure quick healing and recovery postpartum.
For moms who gave birth via normal delivery, taking care of their vaginal wound or area of episiotomy is pretty basic. Regardless if there are stitches or not, it is important to clean your vagina to make sure it that there will be no infections in that area.
“Whether there’s a stitch or not, you still need to wash your vagina two times a day, morning and night with mild soap and lukewarm water,” said Dr. Laranang.
You can opt to use feminine wash with the ingredients povidone-iodine o chlorhexidine digluconate to reduce the possibility of infection.
Meanwhile, before CS moms are discharged, the nursing staff or OB-GYN teaches them about proper wound care.
“We teach the moms about proper wound care at home. Put alcohol or povidone iodine on the wound to ensure continuous recovery. Added support is also very important for CS moms.
They can wear a binder to support their sutures. And if they notice any symptoms like redness, swelling or discharge from the wound, they need to go to their OB to have it checked,” said Dr. Laranang.
The doctor also reminds CS moms to refrain from scratching the wound to prevent infections.
Regardless if you gave birth via normal delivery or CS, here are some things you need to remember about postpartum care:
- Sleep when the baby sleeps. Get adequate rest as much as possible to regain your strength.
- Make sure you’re eating well and staying hydrated, especially if you’re breastfeeding.
- Ask for help. Let your husband or other relatives do some of the chores as you focus on the baby and your recovery.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects and straining to prevent the stitches from opening up. If you have constipation, ask your doctor about stool softeners.
- Take your prescribed medications on time.
Don’t forget to go to your OB-GYN for a follow-up checkup a week after giving birth for her to check if your wounds have dried and if they are healing well.
Remember, keeping your body clean prevents you from getting sick or developing complications after giving birth. If you notice something unusual about your wound or overall health, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor about it.
Click here to read the original article in Filipino.
Additional information from Margaux Dolores
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