Sitz baths for postpartum healing

Before I had gotten discharged from the hospital, the nurse packed me a sitz bath to bring home to use in order to heal my rectum and vagina. A sitz bath is essentially a bath for your nether regions: you set it up on top of your toilet after lifting the lid and the seat up. You fill the shallow bath with warm water along with Epsom salts and mix it up. Then, you takeoff your pants and underwear and sit on top of it for about 5 to 15 minutes. The Epson salts as well as the heat of the water are supposed to help heal your rectum and vagina from all of the trauma that you experienced during childbirth. I had read about sitz baths leading up to giving birth, but I wasn’t set on buying a sitz bath for myself, so lucky me, I got one for free at the hospital… Or, you can also say that nothing is free at any U.S. private hospital in reality because the raw cost of giving birth at Lenox Hill, when you combine the costs for both you and your baby (because yes, your baby does get a separate bill as soon as she pops out) is over $80,000. But that’s another story for another day.

Anyway, this was part of the many things that were packed for us to take home after giving birth. I did not get around to actually using it until about one week postpartum. I finally took a little bit of time during  one evening to do a sitz bath for myself. I considered it part of my self care and healing. So I would set myself up in the second bathroom, fill the sitz bath with warm water and lavender Epsom salts that Chris’s brother bought me for Christmas, and then just sit there. I would have my phone away and literally just sit in stillness for 10-15 minutes. It was a short, sweet time every day almost every day for about 3-4 weeks when I would just meditate in silence by myself and have warmth enveloping my nether regions. And I could not believe how good it felt the very first time, and every subsequent time. I felt an immediate “ahhhhhhh.”

I pretty much got hooked on doing this. It especially felt good when the few stitches I had inside my vagina started to heal, which tends to cause itchiness. As soon as my bottom hit that warm water and salt, it was as though all the itchiness just dissipated just like that. And even though the time that I spent on top of that sitz bath was short, it was a really calming time, and I looked forward to it every evening.

One of the fun things about the sitz bath is that it has the slits in it to allow the water to drain. That way, if you overfill it by accident and you put your bottom on it, the water will just drain directly into the toilet bowl. But if you think about it, the sound of the water dripping into the toilet bowl is going to sound just like urine dripping into the toilet. And so, one day, Chris decided to carry the baby into the bathroom to come check up on what I was doing. And he looked at me, then looked at the baby, and kind of smiled. 

“It sounds like you are peeing!”

“You are really loving that thing!” 

“How long are you going to be using that vag bath?”

I thought that I would no longer need it anymore at this point of my postpartum state.  But then, out of nowhere while peeing one day recently, I started getting a burning sensation in my vagina after wiping. So, it looks like I may not be retiring my sitz bath as soon as I thought.

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