New Health Guide

Bathing After Giving Birth

Oct 10, 2014

Childbirth is perhaps the most awaited time in the entire pregnancy. Most women are in the mix of feelings after giving birth to the precious baby that they have been nurturing for such a long period of time. A feeling of joy, compounded with tiredness and fatigue due to long hours of pushing in labor, and a feeling of uncleanliness due to presence of blood, body secretions, sweat, tears and other fluids on their body. If you develop a desire to take bath immediately after giving birth to your baby, it is understandable. However, first bath after childbirth is definitely a very important decision that should be taken by your doctor. When can you take a bath after giving birth? What are other things you should watch out for?

When Can You Take a Bath after Giving Birth?

Healthcare providers suggest that there is no absolute contraindication to take a bath in bath tub after childbirth. It has a number of advantages like:

  • Soothing relief to your aching body and muscles
  • Improvement in the vaginal/ perineal swelling
  • Feeling of freshness and energy
  • An overall improvement in the circulation of blood.

But is it safe?

  • If you gave birth via cesarean section, it is recommended to avoid bathing (via shower or bath-tub) until your doctor advice you to do so. Ideally you should wait for 1-2 weeks depending on how the wound is healing.
  • If you gave birth via vaginal delivery, most doctors would not advise against bathing immediately after delivery. However, showering in the bath tub increases the risk of infection by introducing germs or contaminants via vagina. The risk is even higher if you have episiotomy or any type of stitching in the perineal region. Water, moisture or contamination can significantly interfere with the healing process. 
  • Normally doctors/ mid-wives give clear instructions regarding bathing and other methods of maintaining personal hygiene (without bathing); but if your discharge documents lack this vital information, you can always ask your doctor personally.

What are some safe ways of taking bath?

One of the most recommended methods of taking bath is via bath-tub. It is not only safe but also relaxing or comforting (considering your state of exhaustion and weakness that may make shower an unsuitable option). Another option is sitz-bath in lukewarm water (especially if you have hemorrhoids or excessive vaginal swelling).

Healthcare providers are against high-pressure showers due to direct impact of water under pressure to the torn or damaged tissues.

Others Things to Do and Avoid During Postpartum Recovery

There are several other steps that should be taken by the new mommy to optimize healing and recovery. A few tips are:

1. Care after Vaginal Birth

Childbirth is a vigorous process and that’s why you should take ample rest before resuming your normal daily activities. This includes:

Things to do

  • Tampons increase the risk of infection and that’s why it is recommended to use sanitary pads instead of tampons.
  • You can use systemic analgesics like over the counter pain relief medications (ibuprofen or paracetamol) to relive afterpains. If your healthcare provider recommends, you can also use local analgesics like witch hazel.
  • For swelling or pain in the vaginal region or perineum, you can use ice-packs or ice on your perineal region for about 15 minutes at a time. Avoid direct contact of ice (by wrapping ice-cubes in a thin cotton cloth)
  • Increase your intake of high quality proteins to optimize tissue healing and recovery.
  • Eat high fiber diet and drink up to 2 liters of water to maintain steady digestion.
  • If you are feeling unclean, you can definitely get benefitted from sponge bath (by using a sponge and water to clean your skin without wetting the incision). This is also true in case of cesarean section.

Things to avoid

  • There are a few common mistakes that some women do postpartum to impede the healing or recovery. It is highly recommended to avoid the common mistakes listed below:
  • Do not flush perfumes, douches or fluids inside your vagina
  • Do not resume sexual activity unless your lesions/ sutures/ tears are fully healed (speak to your doctor before resuming the sexual activity). It is recommended to wait for 4-6 weeks.
  • It is better to postpone any long traveling trips with your baby (especially air-travels) for 5-6 weeks. If you are planning road trips, make sure to take frequent breaks for stretching your limbs

2. Care after a C-section

After cesarean section, the care and cautions needed to optimize healing and recovery are numerous. For example:

  • After 3-4 weeks when your doctor gives you permission to take bath, you should still make sure that your stitches remain dry (after you are done bathing)
  • If you develop coughing, immediately speak to your healthcare provider for an effective remedy. Persistent coughing can increase intra-abdominal pressure and may impair optimal healing of your incision. Meanwhile you can use pillow for support when you are coughing
  • Other similar conditions that can also increase your intra-abdominal pressure are constipation and urinary retention
  • Avoid lifting heavy weights for at least 3 months
  • Avoid vigorous or strenuous physical activity (like horse-riding, bicycling, running, or other sports for at least 6 weeks.
  • Do not exercise or initiate any vigorous attempt to reduce your body weight