Herbal Bath for the Postpartum Mother
Labor and birth can be a time for excitement and for some, a cause for anxiety. This can result in mothers feeling relieved or tired after giving birth and just wanting to rest and heal. The thought of soaking in a nice warm soothing bath when you feel sore or tender after birth sounds appealing to most, especially when knowing that a herbal bath has healing properties that promotes a speedy recovery time.
A postpartum herbal bath has been somewhat of a special ritual to midwives and home birthing mothers for years, as it is part of the celebration of the birth and new arrival of baby. Healing may not always be physical with mothers or babies, but with a herbal bath, they can experience a relaxing private bonding time with baby. Some mothers even light candles to dim the room. A strong pleasant aromatic aroma comes from this herbal infusion, and when combined with the relaxing effect of warm water, it is a perfect way to start a healing post partum recovery.
Numerous reasons why herbal baths are used:
- Relaxation and sore muscles.
- Exhaustion from stress.
- Irritability, headaches and insomnia.
- Reduction of inflammation from trauma or hemorrhoids.
- Facilitate and promote tissue repair from episiotomy or laceration.
Various ways to prepare herbal baths:
One way is to place loose herbs into a medium size pot filled with 2 quarts of water. Bring this water to a boil then reduce to a simmer for an additional 40 minutes. This will make a strong herbal bath infusion that you strain with a colander while pouring the liquid into the bath tub of water.
Another way would be to add the loose herbs to a cotton tea bag, tube sock or panty hose tied, prior to making the infusion thereby eliminating the need to strain the loose herbs into your tub. It is common after each infusion is brewed for antiseptic reasons to add sea salt, powdered myrrh and antimicrobial essential oils directly to the bath. Lastly, when a full bath is not desired, a sitz bath can be made by placing the strong infusion concentrate into a sitz bath container or shallow tub to reach only the lower perineal or hemorrhoidal areas.
Herbal bath ingredients:
- 2 oz. Comfrey dried leaf.
Comfrey root and leaves contain allantoin, a cell proliferant that helps both tissue wounds and deep perineal muscles heal together by growing new cells. Comfrey is also used for inflammation reduction.
- 1 oz. Shepherds Purse dried leaf.
Shepherds Purse acts as a coagulant to help prevent bleeding.
- 1 oz. Uva Ursi dried leaf.
Uva Ursi contains the glycoside arbutin, which has antimicrobial properties. It is used for urinary tract infections.
- 1 oz. Plantain dried leaf.
Plantain leaves contain mucilage and aucubin. Mucilage reduces pain and discomfort while aucubin is an anti-microbial agent.
- 1 oz. Lavender dried flower.
Lavender flowers are aromatic, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.
- 1 oz. Calendula dried flower.
Calendula flower are aromatic and anti-inflammatory.
- 1/2 oz. Myrrh Powder.
Myrrh has antiseptic properties.
- 1 bulb of Garlic.
Garlic has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties.
- 1/2 Cup Sea salt.
Combine the dried leaves, flowers and garlic by placing them in a cotton tea bag or pot to simmer for 40 minutes. After simmering add myrrh, sea salt or essential oils to the infusion just prior to pouring into your bath.
Herbal bath poultices.
Mothers who have an abrasion, laceration, episiotomy or hemorrhoids may want to accelerate the healing process by using the herbs from the bath in a poultice. A poultice is made from plant material and can be made by using sterile gauze squares. Start by opening the gauze, place two table spoons of strained herbal material in the middle, then fold to contain the herbs. The poultices can be cooled in the refrigerator prior to placing directly to the area to be healed. The cool soothing poultice helps reduce inflammation and shortens the healing time of injured tissues.
Charlotte Sanchez (CPM) is a Certified Professional Midwife and Childbirth Educator of over 20years.