How to Make Your Own Herbal Sitz Bath
I'm going to teach you how to make your own healing herbal sitz bath!
What is a "sitz bath"?
The word "sitz" comes from a German word "sitzen" that means 'to sit'. A shallow bath of water (enough to submerge your bottom) to sit in is considered a sitz bath. It is used as a healing remedy by steeping healing herbs (like a tea) in the water.
The sitz bath is an amazing tool for healing your perineum (vaginal/bottom area) after you have a baby. Now that you know what we are talking about, I will tell you how to use herbs to create a healing sitz bath specific for your needs.
Supplies needed to make the sitz bath:
Here are my basic tools when I make a sitz bath for a mom postpartum:
The Sitz Bath Herb Recipe
Working with plants or herbs can be intimidating, but it's really very simple. They are pretty forgiving, and using herbs is a natural tool for healing.
When I am about to formulate a Sitz for a specific mom, I usually think of 3 parts:
- Base Herb. The main healing ingredient.
- Supporting Herb. A secondary healing ingredient.
- Aromatic Herb. A comforting or pleasing scent for the mama.
In making a sitz bath, less is more. You don't want to have 20 different herbs in one bath. So try to keep it at 3-5 herbs in the mixture.
I want you guys to know that this is accessible to everyone. I'm also not an herbalist and am able to use them successfully as a home remedy. I am postpartum doula and I use a lot of herbs. While I have learned some as I have been helping lots of mamas, I want you to know that herbs are accessible to all people and so this is for you!
The Sitz Herbs
The primary healing herbs used for sitz baths are herbs that are anti-inflammatory (reducing swelling) and herbs that are antiseptic (sanitizing/cleansing) herbs.
You can often buy loose leaf herbs from the bulk section at your local health food store. I buy my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs or I grow them in my garden.
It is also really neat to see what is already growing in your environment. For example, I know yarrow grows around here in the Pacific Northwest. Many of these herbs may be growing in your garden. If you already have the fresh herb outside, you can simply pick it, dry it, and use it! This is what I did last summer as I had a lot of Calendula flowers growing in my backyard.
For the Sitz I am teaching you now, I will be using the herbs listed below. I'm not big on measuring herbs, but if you like being very precise I would recommend a scale. I like to just eyeball it and I think both methods are ok! Here is some information on each of the herbs/flowers/plants I am using in this specific herbal sitz bath. Most of the information comes from my favorite herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar!
Witch Hazel (Base Herb)- A deciduous shrub native to eastern United States. It is known for reducing swelling, soothing sore muscles, and treating scrapes and sores. Especially helpful for treatment of hemorrhoids and varicosities.
Calendula (Supporting Herb) - This powerful flower is known to heal wounds by promoting cell repair and growth. It is also known to be antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and helps keep infection at bay.
Rosemary (Supporting Herb) - An herb cultivated throughout the world! Is well known as a circulatory stimulant. It enhances the cellular uptake of oxygen and is a mild and uplifting stimulant. It is useful for treating inflammation!
Lavender (Aromatic Herb)- Comes in many varieties and is known to be profound relaxing and calming. It's effectiveness as a traditional antibacterial, anti fungal, and antiseptic agent has been confirmed by numerous clinical studies.
Measuring and Mixing the Herbs
So, I'll start with witch hazel. It is going to be my base. Either witch hazel or plantain are commonly used as the base for sitz baths. Witch hazel is really great if mama has hemorrhoids. I would recommend using 2 to 4 ounces if you're measuring.
Next, I'm going to use Calendula and Rosemary as the supporting herb, as I usually do. You can also use percy, marshmallow root, yarrow, or rosemary, as the supporting herb. So I typically use two supporting herbs. You can use 1 to 2 ounces of each. I'll do one ounce of rosemary and one ounce of Calendula.
Now for the aromatic herb, I'll use lavender today. Most people like lavender, but jasmine and rose are also great choices. I'm adding one ounce of lavender. It doesn't have to be mathematically exact, do what feels good for you.
Now I have a beautiful bowl of herbs! I like to mix them together with my hands and my fingers with intention, thanking God for these herbs that we can grow and use for healing. I think it's pretty incredible that these plants offer healing elements. So I'm thanking my Creator for giving us herbs and flowers like this.
Steeping & Straining the Herbs
There are a couple different ways to prepare these herbs. When I go to a home birth, I usually bring my herbs in a jar. I'll put about four tablespoons of the herb mixture into my empty 64oz (2 qt) jar. Then I fill the jar with boiling water. I think it's best to steep for 2 to 4 hours, but at least 30 minutes if you need it really quickly. Thirty minutes is okay, but the longer you steep it the better so the water is able to fully absorb all the properties of the herbs. So, I suggest 2 to 4 hours or even overnight for steeping.
After steeping, you will strain out the herbs. You can either strain it directly into the bath or into another container. If you prepare and put it in another container ahead of time, you can have it just waiting on your counter for when you're ready to take a bath!
Now, for the bath itself! You will fill your tub with a very shallow warm bath, about four inches. Or simply enough to submerge your bottom area, about up to your hip bone. Then you add the herbal infused water into to your warm bath and sit in it for 15-20 minutes.
Don't Want to Take a Bath?
If you don't want to take a bath, there are other ways to soak your bottom. You likely have a peri bottle (the name give to the little squirt bottle used to squirt your perineum when on the toilet) from the hospital or your home birth supplies kit.
You can put the herb infused water you made into your peri bottle and squirt soak the perineal area after you go to the bathroom. That is also a great way to get this healing remedy to the area of need after having a baby.
Don't Have a Bathtub?
If you don't have a bathtub and you're not interested in using your peri bottle. There are sitz bath basins that you can put on your toilet and sit in! Just fill the basin with your herb infused water and sit in it for 15-20 minutes on your toilet.
Another way of doing it is having these these satchels and you can fill these satchels with herbs and use them kind of like a big tea bag so
if you don't want to strain your herbs or for some reason you just this is easier for you can also put this in here and cover it with hot water and let it steep and it's kind of a cleaner way of straining your herbs.
When do I take a sitz bath after birth?
I say, the sooner the better, even with stitches. Obviously, ask your care provider first if it's okay to get into the bathtub, but day 2 or 3 after birth is the best time to do your first sitz baths. Also, the more the merrier. So if you can get in a bath every day for the for the first ten days postpartum, you are really going to see a difference in your healing. These herbs are pretty incredible for healing your perineum!