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Get Some Relief With a Sitz Bath

Feeling the pain after delivery or have you developed hemorrhoids? A sitz bath may help.

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After you give birth, you may feel some physical discomfort from labor and delivery. Your doctor may recommend sitz baths to help relieve the pain related to an episiotomy or hemorrhoids.

What is an episiotomy?

An episiotomy is an incision made to prevent tearing in the area between your vagina and rectum, the perineum. While the episiotomy site is healing, the stitches used to repair the incision or a tear that occurred during birth may make it painful to sit, walk, sneeze or cough for a short time.

What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are inflamed or swollen veins around the anus or in the lower rectum. Pregnancy creates more pressure on the abdomen and hemorrhoids may result. The strain of childbirth may also cause hemorrhoids.

How can sitz baths help?

Sitz baths improve blood flow and relax the muscles in the perineum or around the anus or internal anal sphincter. They can also help with swelling that can cause painful urination during the first days after delivery.

Before taking a sitz bath, be sure to check with your doctor for specific recommendations for you.

What are some tips for taking a sitz bath?

You can take a sitz bath in the bathtub or in a small basin that fits over the seat of the toilet. The basins are available at most drug stores.

In either case, keep these tips in mind:

  • The bath should contain just enough water to cover your hips and buttocks, 2 to 3 inches. Do not add soap or bubble bath. For the first few days, use cool water. Then you can use warm water.

  • Soak your rectal area in the bath for 10 to 20 minutes at a time several times a day. If you have stitches in the genital area, you can squeeze your cheeks together when you sit. That may help you avoid pulling on the stitches.

  • Try to allow the anal area to air dry or pat it dry gently with a lint-free cloth.

  • In the case of hemorrhoids, alternating between sitz baths and cold packs can help, as can sitting on an inflatable “doughnut” cushion.

By Beth Hawkins, Contributing Writer

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Your Pregnancy and Childbirth: Month to Month. 6th ed. Washington, DC: ACOG; 2015.
UpToDate. Overview of postpartum care. Accessed: July 6, 2016. Recovering from delivery. Accessed: July 6, 2016.

Last Updated: July 6, 2016