In an earlier post, I talked about caring for your pelvic floor using exercises like kegels and squats. Today I want to talk a little bit about how to care for your pelvic floor after birth, or any other event that may leave it in need of soothing such as infection, hemorrhoids, or surgery.
If you are using any of these techniques after surgery or to care for infections, it is a good idea to get clearance from your doctor just to make sure it is okay, especially if you are using any of the herbal remedies.
A sitz bath is a warm, shallow bath that you sit in. The water should come up to your hips. You can also get sitz bath kits that are designed to just immerse your pelvis. Sitz baths can just be warm water, or you can add things like vinegar, salts, baking soda, and healing herbs. Adding these things to the water can be very soothing, and can also help in keeping the area clean from infections, and draw out impurities that are already there.
There are many herbs that can be added to a sitz bath, each of which has its own healing properties. Here are a few common healing herbs. Feel free to add to the list in the comments if there are any that you like to use that I didn't mention.
Sea salt: Technically not an herb, but widely used in treatments for it's detoxifying properties.
Calendula: Has anti-inflammatory properties, and is great to heal wounds such as cuts, rashes, and scrapes.
Witch Hazel: Used for it's anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. Witch Hazel is great for swelling and hemorrhoids.
Lavender: Most commonly used for it's aroma, lavender also has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-septic and anti-oxidant properties. It also helps promote a calm and restful state and relieve pain.
Goldenseal: Helps to fight infection. Has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and astringent properties. Goldenseal is also used for heavy bleeding during menstruation, and soothing hemorrhoids.
Chamomile: Has anti-biotic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties. It is also known for it's soothing scent, and promoting rest and relaxation.
Yarrow: Helps to stop bleeding from hemorrhage. Also has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
Plantain Leaf: Helps draw out impurities, and even remove small foreign objects like splinters. Plantain helps to promote healing and reduce inflammation.
Comfrey: Helps with healing wounds and preventing infection. Also helps diminish the appearance of scars.
Uva Ursi: Helps to fight infection in the urinary tract. Has astringent and anti-bacterial properties. Great for UTIs and hemorrhoids. This herb should be used in moderation. In small amounts it can help to soothe and strengthen the urinary tract, but if used in excess, it can become abrasive to the urinary lining.
Shepherd's Purse: A coagulant and vasoconstrictor. This herb helps with internal and external bleeding, and helps the uterus to contract if there is hemorrhaging.
Sage: Has astringent, antiseptic, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. Also helps to heal infections and wounds.
To make an herbal sitz bath, run a warm, shallow bath that comes up to about hip level. Steep the herbs in hot water first. You can steep them in a bag, or strain out loose herbs before pouring into the bath water.
Here are some sites where you can find recipes to make your own sitz bath, or buy them ready made:
Earth Mama Angel Baby
A peri bottle is a squirt bottle filled with water or tea made from one or more of the herbs listed above. Make the tea, then allow it to cool before pouring it into the bottle. You then use the bottle to squirt your perineum during and/or after using the bathroom. Peri bottles are great for soothing the perineum if it hurts or stings when you use the bathroom, and is also a great way to help clean the area if it is tender when you wipe.
Frozen pads can be very soothing anytime your perineum is tender or sore. To make them, just take a package of sanitary pads and soak them in water or tea made from one or more of the herbs listed above, then put the pads in the freezer. If you are making multiple frozen pads, you will want to separate them in the freezer so that they don't stick together. You can do this by placing something between them that won't stick, like wax or parchment paper. You can also leave them attached to the wrapper they came in, and squirt the tea or water on them with a peri bottle. When they are ready to use, wrap a pad in a clean, plain paper towel or washcloth and place it inside your underwear, sit on it, or hold it in place. If you are putting it in underwear, you may want to use waterproof underwear, or place a disposable diaper in between the pad and your underwear. As it melts, it will get wet, and if you used herbal tea, it may stain. A diaper will help to prevent wetness and staining.
If you have any other methods of perineal care, or suggestions of herbs to include, feel free to let people know in the comments section.
Meet the Author
Amanda Tarver, (LMT, CEIM, PES, RMT) is a massage therapist and birth worker in the Chicago area. She is dedicated to using a combination of bodywork and education to help people live a better quality of life.