One of the first thing I recommend to my soon to be postpartum clients are herbal bath teas. Women have been using herbal soaks to help heal after birth for generations across many cultures, and let share with you why.
Herbal baths in general help you feel nourished and pampered through our postpartum period. Not only does the warmth make you feel nice, relaxed and cozy, but the medicinal properties of the herbs can also improve a wide array of postpartum complications.
There are many herbs that can be used to soothe tender perineal tissue, heal tears and episiotomies ( and yes, you CAN take herb baths if you've had stitches!), reduce inflammation, and even shrink hemorrhoids after a vaginal birth. Herbal tea bath's are not appropriate after a cesarean, however; foot soaks or pedicures with any relaxing herbs (like lavender, chamomile, and rose - all favorites of mine) are absolutely a great way to relax and treat yourself!
Herbal bath's can be given as soon as an hour after a vaginal birth, as long as long as mommy is healthy and there are no signs of infection. A fresh bath can be taken 1-2 times daily for 3-5 days after birth. Baby can also join the herbal bath, which also promotes drying and healing of the umbilical cord.
The herb I recommend are a a blend of 3 properties - antibacterial plants, uterine toners & anodynes (pain reducers).
There are an abundance of herbs you can use in you herbal tea bath, but let me give you my 2 favorite recipes:
Herbal Bath Tea I: Delicate
A blend of soothing and fragrant botanicals that is uplifting, healing, and antiseptic. Delicate can also be used as a pre-rinse with your perirenal or istinja bottle.
- 1 oz dried comfrey leaf*
- 1 oz calendula flowers
- 1 oz lavender flowers
- 1/2 oz dried uva ursi leaves
- 1/2 oz witch hazel blossoms (if you can find them Red Clover is a great substitute)
- 1/2 oz dried sage leaf
- 1/2 cup sea salt
Directions: Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Turn off heat, and place 1 ounce (about 1 large handful) of the above mixed herbs (excluding the salt) into the pot. Cover & steep for approx. 30 minutes.
Strain the liquid well with a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth, and discard the herb material. Add 2 quarts of tea to your bath, along with the 1/2 cup of salt.
Herbal Bath Tea II: Deeply
Strongly antiseptic and astringent, perfect for healing trauma to the perineum, including tears and episiotomies.
- 1 oz dried comfrey leaf*
- 1 oz yarrow blossoms
- 1/2 oz myrrh powder
- 1 oz rosemary (dried)
- 6 cloves of fresh garlic*
- 1/2 cup of sea salt
Directions: Peel all the garlic cloves and place them in a blender with 1 cup of water. Blend at high speed until you have a milky liquid and the garlic is completely pulverized. Strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and turn off heat. Add 1 ounce of the dried herb blend to the pot cover and steep for 30 minutes.
Strain the liquid and discard the herb material. Add 1 cup of the garlic “milk” and the herb tea to the bath, along with 1/2 cup of salt.
*Do not use include the garlic milk for use in a perineal or istinja bottle pre-rinse, it would be too irritating. Without the garlic, the tea can be used directly.
Herbal Compresses and Rinses
To use the teas as herbal compresses: Simply soak a washcloth in the herbal tea and apply warm or cold to the perineum as needed to reduce tenderness and swelling.
Perineal-rinses: You can purchase a peri bottle (a plastic squeeze bottle) from any pharmacy or Amazon and fill with the strained tea . Squeeze lukewarm or room temperature water over your perineal area as you urinate. This can significantly reduces inflammation and stinging.
If you don't feel like fully immersing, or don't have a tub at home, try a v-steam instead. V-steam seats are perfect for at home steaming, and Sitz basins are inexpensive and available at many pharmacies, Target, and Walmart.
Is Comfrey Safe for Use in Herbal Baths?
There are differences of opinions about using comfrey in herbal baths. This is based on the fact that a chemical compound in comfrey leaves, Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA), are known to cause liver damage in rare cases when taken internally. While this compound can also be absorbed through skin abrasions and open wounds, the amount is very tiny, and there is not evidence that this can cause hepatotoxicity or problems for baby through exposure in the bath. If, however, you are uncomfortable with using it, simply skip this ingredient and increase the volume of the others to make up the difference. You can also replace the comfrey with rose or chamomile.
Where Do I Get Herbs for the Herbal Bath Tea?
Blending your own herbal bath tea is easy – you just purchase the amounts of each herb you need, and mix them together in a large glass mason jar storage until it's time to use them.
You can also purchase pre-assembled herb baths from A Source of Goodness directly.